Forza Horizon 5: 5 beginner tips and tricks to get you started

Forza Horizon 5 Performance Mode
Forza Horizon 5 Performance Mode (Image credit: Windows Central)

Forza Horizon 5 is Playground Games' biggest racing adventure yet, transporting players to Mexico, with numerous things to do, places to see and cars to drive in one of the best Xbox games available. If you're a newcomer to the franchise, or you haven't played a game in the Horizon line of Forza games in a while, don't worry, we're here to help. Here are a few tips and tricks for any beginners in Forza Horizon 5, to make sure you have as much fun as possible.

Don't worry about the main path

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Forza Horizon 5 has a sprawling campaign with plenty of "mainline" races and events for you to take part in during the latest Horizon Festival. With that in mind, don't get too swept up in advancing the campaign. Even when you compare it to past Forza Horizon games, there's a lot to do here. Look around! There are numerous races that aren't part of the campaign. There are hundreds of experience and fast travel boards to smash apart.

If you ever somehow get worried that you're spending too much time away from the campaign, don't worry. Various characters will call you up and make it clear there are new activities to take on in order to continue the Festival; there's never a downside to putting that stuff off for a moment.

Don't be afraid to go off-road

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

This is somewhat related to the above tip, but it's worth emphasizing: When you explore, don't just get in the habit of sticking to a road. Striking out across the regions of Mexico is a great way to stumble across new cars in barns, scenic locations you never would've seen otherwise, obscure activities, and more. The Barn Finds in particular will require you to explore a bit, as you'll be told throughout the course of the game where the general location of a barn could be, but it'll still be fairly large area you'll have to comb over.

For this reason, it's a great idea to invest in at least one good off-road vehicle, even if you mostly end up sticking to proper "racing" cars. If your souped-up racing engine and tires don't have the right grip for the jungles and desert, don't worry; there are other, better options for that.

Remember to upgrade your car

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If you're having fun exploring the open country or going from race to race, especially if you're on a winning streak, it can be easy to get carried away. With that in mind, make sure you take time to upgrade your vehicle once in a while, especially if it's one you just got that you intend to keep and use. You may like a car as it arrives, no tweaks required, but even a handful of basic engine and wheel upgrades can be the difference between winning a race and coming in last place.

If you're hesitant about buying upgrades because you're trying to save up for one of the more expensive vehicles early on — hello there, Halo Warthog — there's no reason to be too concerned. As long as you focus on the most important elements, upgrades aren't usually too expensive either, with one or two races easily covering the cost for several top-of-the-line upgrades. These upgrades are also necessary for increasing the ranking of your vehicle, which determines what kinds of races they are qualified for and best suited for. If you don't have vehicle that fits a race's requirements, you'll need to rent one, which means less experience earned for you.

Keep an eye on the Festival playlist

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The Festival Playlist is essentially a collection of what you've done so far in a season and what else you can accomplish. Different seasons have different activities and rewards, so be sure to check in there every once in a while. There might be something fun you want to hit immediately that you wouldn't otherwise know about. It's also a great way to earn extra cars, wheelspins and more.

Play around with the difficulty settings

Source: Xbox Game Studios (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios)

Once you've spent some time with the game, tweaking your ride and learning to fine-tune your controls, you may find yourself completing most races with relative ease. If that's the case, the next time you set up a race, try increasing the difficulty. In addition to the increased challenge providing more fun and a better experience overall, you'll get more rewards, meaning it's not just for bragging rights. Need more money? Increase the difficulty options and watch the credits roll in. You'll actually be asked by the game after a while (assuming you're winning a lot) if you want to increase the difficulty to the next level.

Most of all, have fun

Forza Horizon is a different part of Forza that's grown popular for a reason, as the emphasis is placed on fun. Go where you want, do what you want, save up for the cars you want, and you're sure to have a good time. There are multiple editions of Forza Horizon 5 available for purchase, so pick the one that fits your needs best.

Forza Horizon 5 is available as of Nov. 5, 2021, on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and PC through the Premium edition of the game. As of Nov. 9, it's also available on Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.