Forza Horizon 5, the latest massive open-world racer from Playground Games, is officially out now on Xbox and PC. At first glance, playing this racing game might seem fundamentally the same as playing any other racing game: press the right trigger to go fast, left trigger to slow down, tilt the stick to turn. But you’ll soon find that Forza Horizon 5 is more complex than an F1 race. Here are a handful of tips and tricks I wish someone told me before I started playing.
Filtering the map is essential
Forza Horizon 5’s map is absolutely littered with icons, to the point where many overlap. What’s more, when you finish a mission, its icon doesn’t disappear (as it might in a typical open-world game like Far Cry). The result is a map that, while impressively thorough and full of stuff to do, ends up obscuring itself.
You can make things a bit more manageable by pulling up the filters menu with the right shoulder button (on Xbox) when the map is open. The savvy move is to get rid of everything (just uncheck the first option) and selectively re-add the icons you actually want on the map. I’d suggest going with the four base types of race events—street, road, dirt, and cross-country—plus the Horizon festival outposts. You’ll still come across plenty of speed traps and other miscellaneous but smaller tasks just by driving around.
Establish the “boss”-level showcases first
The main thrust of Forza Horizon 5’s first act has you establish various Horizon Festival outposts around Mexico, each one related to one of the game’s disciplines of racing. As you earn accolade points—done by successfully finishing races—you’ll open up “Horizon Adventure Chapters.” Every new chapter allows you to either open up a new outpost or unlock one of several “showcase” missions associated with that outpost.
Every outpost has a “boss”-level showcase: The Marathon (street scene) has you navigate a colossal amount of tight corners on a long race, The Colossus (road racing) takes you on a marathon from the southeast corner of the map all the way to the northwest, and so on. In all cases, these big races give you more accolade points than anything else, allowing you to unlock more showcase events at a faster rate.
You haven’t driven on the orange roads
Forza Horizon 5 features nearly 600 roads. Beyond the impulsive collectathon nature of hitting all 600, there’s incentive for driving on as many as you can: For every new road you drive on, you earn 50 XP. Every time you level-up, you get a free item—sometimes a new car—via a slots-like mini-game known as a Wheelspin.
On your map and minimap, roads you haven’t hit before show up as orange. I haven’t yet figured out how long you need to drive on a road for the game to register it as “driven on,” but simply passing over a brief segment via, say, an intersection doesn’t seem to count.
Purchase the Hotel Castillo house
There are a handful of houses in Forza Horizon 5 that you can purchase and designate as a home base. At 5,000,000 credits, Hotel Castillo—located in the northern canyons—is a steep sell, but it’s arguably the best investment. Once you buy it, you’ll get a Wheelspin every day you play.
Casa Bella, found in the south, on the outskirts of Mulegé, is a fine fallback option. Once you get that house, DJs will sporadically play “skill songs,” doubling your skill points for the duration of a song, which will help you…
Get the Wheelspin skills before everything else
You earn skill points by doing pretty much anything: speeding, drifting, side-swiping, going off road, crashing into fences, crashing into telephone poles, crashing into roadside tables, crashing into other cars. Skill points are tied to your character, not your vehicle, so if you earn them with one car, you can still apply them to another.
Skills are typically take-it-or-leave-it, but most cars have at least one node in their respective tree that grants you an instant Wheelspin. (Some rare cars have so-called Super Wheelspins, which run three slots at the same time, rather than the typical one.) Get those skills first, then bank the rest of your points to unlock the same node on other cars.
Also, if you don’t care about seeing how many skill points you earn, banish them from your HUD. You’ll still earn points on the backend, even if you don’t see it happening.
If you can’t find the bonus board, look up (or down)
Forza Horizon 5 has more than 200 “bonus boards”—small billboards you can drive through for an XP boost—strewn around the map. If you’re at the location of one per your GPS but can’t find the thing for the life of you, look up. It’s probably on top of the house next to you. (Sorry, 30 hours later and I still haven’t figured out how to get up there.) Or, if you’re on a bridge, it’s probably below you, sometimes in the water.
You can fast-travel to select locations without paying
Fast-traveling in Forza Horizon 5 will run you around 9,000 a pop—a minor cost in the grand scheme of things but some bullshit on principle. To that end, there are a few ways to circumvent the cost. By selecting “Go To Home” from the My Horizon menu, you can fast-travel back to your chosen house at no cost. Or, by hitting “Buy New and Used Cars” in the Cars menu, you’ll go to the nearest established Horizon Festival outpost.
Remember to collect your auction sales
In Forza Horizon 5, you can’t just automatically sell your Fords (or other cars you don’t like). Instead, you have to put them up for auction, where other players can bid on them. Some tips:
- Set the time to 24 hours. There’s never a need so urgent in Forza Horizon 5 that you need credits stat, and dragging out the auction as long as you can ensures you’ll get the biggest payout.
- Whatever the starting bid is set at, double it. No reason not to.
- Once a car is sold, you don’t automatically get the funds in your account. You have to return to the Auction House menu, click on “my auctions,” and manually collect the credits from every successful sale. If you don’t do so within 60 days, they’re forfeit.
Get thee a Koenigsegg
Yes, trying to take sharp corners in a Koenigsegg feels a lot like trying to rollerblade on an ice-skating rink. But these Swedish-made hyper cars, particularly the 2016 Regera, make Sonic the Hedgehog seem like a Slowpoke—an easy ticket to win first place in all of Horizon’s drag race events.
You needn’t be precious about checkpoints
In races, if you don’t pass between the bounds of a checkpoint, you’ll have to rewind (Y button) or get your time knocked. Here’s the trick: You technically don’t have to drive in between the checkpoints. Think of it like ski racing: As long as you tap the outside, you’re good. (This hack is quite helpful for the tight corners of street racing events.)
On the flip side, if a race or event doesn’t have any checkpoints, you don’t need to follow the route at all. You can just go in a beeline—over hills, through fields or deserts, you name it—to the destination. It’s an easy opportunity to turn a winding race into a 45-second off-road sprint.
Don’t waste your money on the Warthog
This novelty vehicle costs 850,000 credits and handles just as poorly as it does in the source material. Leave it for Master Chief.