‘Forza Horizon 5’ hands-on: A Ford Bronco fever dream in the desert

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Bronco. Every. Time.

This has been my motto whereas enjoying the preview build of Forza Horizon 5, the newest iteration of Playground Games’ open-world racing sequence. Horizon is the chill, microdosing cousin of Forza Motorsport, with pageant vibes, ridiculous race tracks set in lush environments, and, in fact, a digital storage stuffed with attractive automobiles.

Playground Games

Horizon 5 takes place in a fictionalized Mexico, which makes it the good stomping floor for the 2021 Ford Bronco, an SUV that I’ve been drooling over for greater than a year in actual life. It’s the first new mannequin in 25 years, it’s styled after the first-generation Bronco that Ford rolled out in 1965, and, better of all, it comes in a cactus grey colorway. However, for a mess of causes — the world chip scarcity, supply-chain slowdowns and the sheer expense of all of it — I’m not prone to get my ft on the pedals of a brand new Bronco any time quickly. That’s the place Horizon 5 comes in.

Horizon 5 begins with a yellow Bronco Badlands strapped to the ground of a airplane, ramp lowered behind it with clear sky hovering by. Starting the sport drops the automobile out of the airplane, parachuting you onto the rim of a snow-capped volcano. Immediately, you’re driving at excessive speeds, following a path down the fiery mountain and getting a really feel for the Bronco. It strikes like a heavy piece of equipment, tilting on fast turns and cannonballing down the highway, sturdy but delicate. (The compulsory, “I like my partners the way I like my SUVs” goes right here.)

And then the subsequent automobile drops from the sky — a zippy 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe that drives a lot in a different way than the Bronco, turning on a dime and floating over the highway. After a couple of minutes with that, a 1989 Porsche 911 Desert Flyer parachutes previous a herd of flamingos, zooming down forest trails with implausible dealing with. Finally, the Mercedes-AMG One, a superfast hybrid sports activities automobile, finishes the experience by racing an airplane.

Playground Games

Each of the beginning automobiles has its personal sensibilities and strengths. They all lastly land at the Horizon Festival, a large music and racing extravaganza held in the Mexico desert. This is the most important hub of the sport, and it’s a celebration ambiance stuffed with brilliant pink indicators, crowds of cheering followers and a ceaseless barrage of fireworks, confetti and scorching air balloons.

This is the place you’re given the probability to select a automobile for the first time, and it’s the origin of my Horizon 5 mantra: Bronco. Every. Time.

It’s not that the Bronco is the quickest or smoothest automobile in the sport, but it surely feels proper rolling by way of the rugged desert panorama. It’s the automobile I need to be driving in actual life, and it’s extremely satisfying to maneuver it up winding mountain roads, alongside charming metropolis streets and into the coronary heart of huge mud storms.

To be honest, I don’t truly decide the Bronco each time — there are some races that the SUV merely can’t win, given its prime velocity and broad turns, and for these I’ll fortunately use one among the sports activities vehicles. But on the subject of exploring, I’m all about the Bronco.