Forza Horizon 5 guide: What to do in your first few hours

Forza Horizon 5 introduces Nov. 9 on Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and Windows PC. It’s a substantial open-world racing video game (the biggest map in the series to date) with heaps to do.

Our Forza Horizon 5 novice’s guide will assist you focus your very first couple of hours to establish an excellent, multipurpose racing setup; comprehend Forza Horizon 5’s development, gameplay loop, and unlockables; and how you can purchase, paint and personalize vehicles for appearances and efficiency.

List of local times when Forza Horizon 5 unlocks for players

Image: Play Ground Games/Xbox Video Game Studios

When is Forza Horizon 5 offered?

Forza Horizon 5’s $99.99 Premium Edition provided early access to purchasers starting Friday, Nov. 5. The base video game itself introduces Tuesday, Nov. 9, on Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and Windows PC through both the Microsoft Shop and Steam.

Those who purchased the Deluxe or Requirement edition might start pre-loading Forza Horizon 5 now. It will open at 12:01 a.m., in your nation’s regional time, on Nov. 9.

Forza Horizon 5 is likewise offered start Nov. 9 at 12:01 a.m. regional time to all customers of Xbox Video game Pass, Xbox Video Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Video Game Pass Ultimate. It might likewise be pre-loaded from Xbox Video game Pass today.

The difficulty options menu in Forza Horizon 5.

Traction control you might wish to switch on or off depending upon how effective your cars and truck is. Stability control need to usually be off. You require complete control of the cars and truck to get the most speed out of it versus greater AIs.
Image: Play Ground Games/Xbox Video Game Studios through Polygon

Prior to you begin: Inspect your settings

Forza Horizon 5 has great deals of screen, notice, and controller settings to set the video game to your choice, and they’re offered from the start menu prior to starting the video game. We advise the following choices in specific, for those using a gamepad.

  • Problem: Steering — We like Simulation steering (over Auto-Steering, Helped, or Requirement). The additional control is essential if you’re removing traction and stability helps, which we likewise advise.
  • Problem: Traction Control — Set this to Off, conscious that you might require to turn it back on when driving high-torque supercars. Traction control does what it states (keeps you from spinning your wheels, specifically at launch) however does so at an expense to velocity, and this is important when racing versus greater AI troubles.
  • Problem: Stability Control — Constantly leave this Off. Stability control likewise slows the cars and truck and makes it more difficult to sustain drifts when racing off-road. Like the majority of racing video games, you will require to take helps off to get the most out of your cars and truck, and to beat higher-level AIs.
  • Problem: Damage & Tire Use — There is no XP gain from Cosmetic Only or Simulation damage. You simply get a trashed-looking (or driving) cars and truck. We’d rather have a good time without being fretted about denting up the cars and truck, so set this to None. Keep in mind: Your cars and truck will still get unclean, for those who like visual evidence of their mud-bogging or rallying at the end of a race. You can reset the dirt and gunk by opening image mode (down on the D-pad), tapping the Left Bumper to Reset Cosmetic Damage, and accepting the timely.
  • Problem: Rewind — Once Again, there is no XP gain from leaving this help off. Set it On due to the fact that it will be available in helpful when you’re attempting to nail a dive or land a stunt that needs duplicated efforts, or if you’ve missed out on a checkpoint. Rewind is likewise beneficial when you wish to return and review a minute for an appeal screenshot.
  • Advanced Controls: Guiding Axis and Velocity Axis — These will assist tweak your gamepad handling with stability and traction control off. Follow the on-screen guidelines to offer yourself a stick that doesn’t overreact to small pushes, to manage your cars and truck’s stability. This suggests, for steering, increasing the Steering Axis Deadzone Within and reducing the Steering Axis Deadzone Outdoors. For your traction, it suggests increasing the Velocity Axis Within and reducing the Velocity Axis Outdoors. You need to not require to alter it more than 5 or 10 clicks in either instructions. You can change the Deceleration Axis Within and Outdoors if you want, however with Braking set to Anti-Lock On in the problem menu, you shouldn’t require it.
  • Video: Graphics Mode — Set this to Efficiency. It focuses on 60 frames-per-second efficiency over resolution. The much better framerate assists you feel and comprehend your cars and truck’s responsiveness as you tune the inputs and the automobile setup. It’s important to a good-handling trip, and comes at nearly no visible expense to Forza Horizon 5’s stunning visuals.

All of these settings can be altered in the video game by pushing Start and after that going to the Settings panel of the Project tab in the primary menu.

Check your controls in the Intro

Forza Horizon 5 starts with the familiar race-to-the-festival montage. You’ll be driving the 2021 Ford Bronco, the 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe, the 1989 “Desert Flyer” Porsche 911, and the 2021 Mercedes-AMG One.

There’s no other way to “lose” these races, and you can rewind as far as you desire, for any factor. Utilize these series to get a feel for the various vehicles’ handling on various surface. You desire the Bronco to wander and move without fishtailing, which suggests you require to be able to end up with an excellent counter-steer, one that doesn’t oversteer, at the end of the slide. At incredibly high speeds, you desire the AMG-One to make subtle, broad reversals instead of snapping to your inputs and drawing out.

A large list of dozens of nicknames Forza Horizon 5 can call the player

The analysts will call you loads of names and labels. Yes, even “Count Driftula”
Image: Play Ground Games/Xbox Video Game Studios through Polygon

Tailor your character

After the opening series, your chauffeur will be presented. Provide any look you choose. (And don’t pay any attention to the obnoxious host attempting to hustle you onto the phase. Silence the television while you make your options, if essential.) If the user name associated with the Xbox account playing the video game remains in Forza Horizon 5’s audio library, the video game will instantly call you by that name. You can’t alter this name (or label) yet, however you can from the “Your Name” panel in the “My Festival” menu when you later on go to Horizon Central, a Home, or a Station. You likewise get to select a vanity license plate to go on each of your vehicles, in the design of the country where it was constructed. This plate can likewise be altered later on.

A rally car launches off a ramp with a large cargo plane in the distance

Horizon Celebration Mexico’s jolly jumbo airplane isn’t the only flying maker in this computer game.
Image: Play Ground Games/Xbox Video Game Studios through Polygon

Drive your very first huge set piece

After personalizing your character and enduring a cut scene, you’ll select the cars and truck you wish to drive initially. Don’t worry — all four are already in your garage and can be driven later. Moreover, you won’t be racing with this vehicle in your first special event. So pick whatever looks most appealing for an open-world drive out to the event start location.

Your first event, “On a Wing and a Prayer,” will be in the 1994 Hoonigan Ford Cossie V2. It’s likewise very difficult to “lose” this event, and if you do finish second, it doesn’t matter. You get to keep the Cossie, and it will be handy in off-road and road racing scenarios.

Go on your first adventure

Forza Horizon 5 has several chapters that are unlocked as you acquires “Accolades” a secondary form of XP. Technically, the opening sequence and “On a Wing and A Prayer” are the first two chapters. You get a sneak preview at your next chapter right after: You can find an old “Vocho,” or VW Beetle, or take a picture of a Mesoamerican totem in the middle of a sandstorm. It doesn’t really matter which you prefer to do. Both are the opening acts for later multi-stage chapters that will quickly unlock after about five events in the open world.

Winning screen showing a gold car in the background and a 2018 Mercedes-AMG as the first place prize.

The “First Course” series of three road races is a seasonal offering available right now in Forza Horizon 5. It has a pretty swell car reward for winning.
Image: Play Ground Games/Xbox Video Game Studios through Polygon

Compete in your very first race

The onboarding above takes about 30 to 45 minutes. After this, the whole map is yours. There isn’t much on it at first — tons more events will be available as you earn Accolades and are invited to start new chapters, which involve opening new hub outposts themed to a certain style of racing.

For the first race, we recommend Airfield Cross Country Circuit in the lower southwest of the map. It’s a lot of fun and uses the Cossie very well. After the race, head to the southeastern end of the airstrip and smash the Fast Travel board that is inside the crumbling hangar. That completes an initial accolade that delivers the 2003 Nissan Fairlady Z, a great drifting car that can be upgraded cheaply. Note: When the game tells you that you’ve been awarded an Accolade unlockable, you’ll still have to go to the Accolades screen (Start button from the Map) to collect it. If you’re not seeing something in your garage, check your Accolades for unclaimed gifts.

Use the Fairlady, or the Corvette that’s in your garage (you may select a new vehicle before any event without retrieving it in-world) to compete in the nearby Aerodromo Drag Strip, a fun drag race worth some easy credits, XP, and accolade points. You may need to put traction control on to keep from spinning your wheels at the launch. A non-upgraded Corvette should be able to easily smoke the field at Highly Skilled AI difficulty.

For drag racing on automatic transmissions, there’s no need to manipulate the clutch at the start. Just hold down the right trigger and off you go. But for high-torque cars, or playing without traction control, you may need to feather the accelerator to get a smooth launch before dropping the hammer.

At the end of the airstrip is a Danger Sign, which means a huge jump. Get a good head start and see how far you can go! Some special editions of Forza Horizon 5 will give you additional cars to start the game. We managed to launch the 2017 Ford GT (included in the Premium Edition) 1,872.6 feet — all the way into the river. You’ll need to go about 2,000 feet to clear it.

Customize your first cars and truck

This is a natural regrouping point to head back to Horizon Festival Mexico’s main hub and put your own personal brand on a car, now that you’re familiar with one or two. Drive to the hub and press X to enter it, which gives you access to the Autoshow, Auction House, Upgrades & Tuning, and Designs & Paints menus.

If you desire to alter the Cossie, don’t fret; its elaborate livery is the “factory color” option. So you can paint it as you like, and always return to the original look with the first setting in that automobile’s paint menu.

screen showing how you paint a car a different color in Forza Horizon 5

Special finishes, like semi-gloss, matte, and flake paints, are available in the Special Tab of the colors menu
Image: Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios via Polygon

How to get your color exactly right

For painting the car with custom colors, Forza Horizon 5 uses an HSB slider. Select a color from the menu (special finishes, like matte, flake, and two-tone, are in the special tab) and press X. This will bring up the sliders.

If you want to get your color exact, we recommend looking up the hex code of a color you have in mind ( and are good resources) and then finding out what its HSB (sometimes called HSV) values are. Here is a simple spreadsheet that converts those values into their corresponding numbers in Forza Horizon 5’s sliders. Feel free to copy it to your own spreadsheet and use it for your own custom paint jobs.

Menu showing performance changes to the Hoonigan Cossie with an upgrades package

The setups browser in Forza Horizon 5 features packages of parts and settings other players have used to upgrade their cars. It features a histogram that shows you exactly what you’re getting in terms of performance.
Image: Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios via Polygon

Upgrading your car’s performance

From the Upgrades & Tuning panel, you may either Auto Upgrade the car, which gives it parts taking it to the maximum end of a performance range (S2, S1, A, B, C, or D) or Custom Upgrade the car with individual parts (this is useful mainly for cosmetic parts, like spoilers or rims).

If you aren’t knowledgeable with actually tuning cars (things like camber, tire pressure and differential) go to Find Tuning Setups. Here you will see community-created parts-and-tuning packages, with a histogram showing the areas in which they will improve (or reduce) your car’s performance. The Find Tuning Setups panel, and the ability to purchase and apply their parts, is also available before any race from the event’s menu. Leaning on others’ creations is a good way to be more certain you’re giving the car the qualities you want (better launch, better top speed, etc.).

Lastly, give your new ride its own horn! You’ll see the Car Horns tile in the Garage Tab. It’s under Barn Finds. There are a couple dozen standard horns and many more musical horns and sound effects to unlock. (Yes, there is “La Cucaracha” and “Mexican Hat Dance.” There’s also the Microsoft Teams join-meeting alert.)

Your second race: Pick a road race

It’s a good idea to pick a road race on a hard surface to help you set your assists, dead zones, and controls for high-performance road and track cars, for the long haul. We ran the Emerald Circuit (western end, northwest of the airfield) in a Ford GT to find a sweet spot for acceleration and traction. Again, some cars are so powerful you will need traction control. But use it on the fastest ones in your fleet, as the hit to their acceleration won’t be as profound as it is on slower cars.

A rally car parked in the driveway outside a home done in Spanish architectural style

Mi casa es mi casa, amigo. Get your own.
Image: Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios via Polygon

Go to your new home

After winning two to three events, the safehouse in Mulege will open up for purchase. This is a kind of hub world that keeps you from going to the central festival to buy or upgrade cars. Some also come with perks and boosts. Mulege’s Casa Bella unlocks “Skill Songs,” which double your XP when they’re playing on the in-world radio. The Premium Edition of Forza Horizon 5, again, includes a VIP pass that makes La Casa Solariega near Teotihuacan free. “Buying” it unlocks 5 Super Wheelspins, which will add significantly to your in-game funds and fleet of cars. (If you bought the Standard Edition of the game, you can get the Premium Edition content for $49.99, with a $5 discount to Xbox Game Pass members.)

After unlocking Casa Bella, you will have an opportunity to open your very first outpost with the next chapter of Horizon Adventure. We chose to begin Horizon Wilds, which will open a dirt racing hub. Its exploratory route ends at the Airfield, again, and a Barn Find leading to the 1991 Jaguar Sport XJR-15. Going to the top of La Gran Caldera for Horizon Baja is also very fun, lands you a F-150 Prerunner Deberti, and opens the Cross-Country outpost and its races.

A rally car in the foreground looking out over a steaming lake of glowing hot magma

Horizon Baja’s initial expedition takes you to the top of La Gran Caldera, where the floor is hot lava.
Image: Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios via Polygon

Play in the Arcade

From here on, Forza Horizon 5 opens up into a free-roaming game where you may spend lots of time discovering new activities, or blazing through favorite races in faster and faster times. It’s really up to you. Your cash reserves should be enough by now that you can splurge on one or two flashy rides, running 100,000 to 300,000 credits, at the Autoshow. This is a collection game, so go for it whenever you feel like it. Credits are awarded plentifully after every race, whether for completing them, or in Wheelspins as you level up.

But take a moment to at least try the Horizon Arcade early on, which is a rotating set of timed objectives, usually involving destroying something. Horizon Arcade events are marked by a purple blob and a blimp icon on the map. Drive to its location, wait for the occasion to begin, and follow the instructions at the bottom of the screen. Horizon Arcade is a productive method to rack up great deals of cash, XP, and distinctions.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.