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Forza Horizon 5's Hot Wheels DLC makes me feel like a kid again

Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Every kid has a favorite toy that they love to play with for hours on end, letting their mind run wild with imagined scenarios that allow them to see themselves in a brand-new light. For some children, those toys are Barbie dolls that let them pretend they own fancy clothes and extravagant makeup. For others, they're platoons of army men figures that inspire kids to envision themselves as daring action heroes. 

For me, those toys were Hot Wheels. Many of my childhood afternoons were spent carefully putting together racetracks and racing the iconic toy cars through them, picturing what it would be like if I was in the driver's seat of one. I loved pretending that my custom courses were scenic routes through massive mountain ranges or winding roads that cut through futuristic cities, even though in reality, they were just plastic pieces on my bedroom floor. I had a sizable collection of cars built up, too, always keeping them safe in a blue Hot Wheels carrying case whenever I wasn't using them.

I haven't thought about my Hot Wheels for a long time, but when I was offered a chance to go hands-on with Forza Horizon 5's Hot Wheels DLC, my memories of them came flooding back. And while playing with digitally recreated versions of the cars and racetracks I enjoyed as a kid isn't quite the same, this expansion has nevertheless felt like a blast from the past.

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels takes players into the clouds, letting them loose in the fantastical new Horizon Hot Wheels Park that features several unique biomes and over 120 miles of track. The verdant waterfall-filled woodland of Forest Falls and the colossal rocky Giant's Canyon remind me of the exotic places I used to imagine my Hot Wheels tracks were set in, and the Ice Cauldron, a unique tundra region that gives way to pools of molten lava at several locations, is absolutely gorgeous. There's also the Horizon Nexus, a central Festival Site that connects to all of the other biomes and features plenty of the bright orange tracks that Hot Wheels fans know and love.

Playing this expansion felt like a blast from the past, giving me a chance to play with digitally recreated versions of the cars and racetracks I enjoyed as a kid.

In addition to these classic Hot Wheels roads, there are also other types of track throughout the Horizon Hot Wheels Park that will shake up your racing experience. Silver magnet tracks enable gravity-defying loops and corkscrews, while water flume ones increase your speed as you drive through their currents. There are also a handful of hazardous tracks, including frozen roads that test the traction of your vehicle and stretches of rough, bumpy paths that threaten to spin you out of control. There are even boost pads dotted around the map that you can use for massive speed increases, which daring stunt masters will no doubt find many great uses for.

The new map makes me feel like my childhood imagination has been brought to life, and I've had a ton of fun free-roaming around it. You also have the option of playing through a wide variety of "Hot Wheels Academy" missions, challenges, and events, working your way up to the Expert level and unlocking 10 new cars (four of which are authentic recreations of Hot Wheels cars) as well as a variety of smaller cosmetic items. Of these missions, my favorites were the Horizon Story ones that explore the history of the Hot Wheels brand, as I got to learn interesting facts about my favorite childhood toys I might have never discovered otherwise.

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

The expansion also brings additional content to the Forza Horizon 5 creation toolkit, EventLab. The developers at Playground Games have given players the ability to create custom racetracks with 80 different types of snappable track pieces ⁠— just like how you can mix and match pieces from real Hot Wheels sets. It's incredibly exciting to think about what the passionate Forza community will put together with this functionality, especially since EventLab includes the wackier track types from the DLC. I'm looking forward to playing on the courses that players make moving forward (maybe I'll even create some of my own, too).

Overall, the entire Hot Wheels DLC has made me feel quite nostalgic, and I've greatly enjoyed revisiting some of my best childhood memories by playing it. The days of playing with my Hot Wheels collection for hours without a care in the world are gone, but when I accelerate around massive loop-de-loops at breakneck speeds in a 2000 Hot Wheels Deora II, I can't help but feel like a kid again.

Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels is available now on Xbox, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming, either as a standalone $20 purchase or as part of Forza Horizon 5's $50 Premium Add-ons Bundle (it's currently on sale for $40). You need the base game to play it, which we highly recommend picking up since it's easily one of the best Xbox games available right now.

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Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels

If you're a longtime fan of Hot Wheels, Forza Horizon 5's new DLC will blow you away. It's a love letter to everything that makes Hot Wheels cool, from the diverse and fantastical tracks and environments to the classic cars and build-it-yourself EventLab track creator.

Buy from: Xbox (opens in new tab) | Steam (opens in new tab)

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Forza Horizon 5 Premium Add-ons Bundle

If you want to experience absolutely everything Forza Horizon 5 has to offer, go with the Premium Add-ons Bundle. In addition to access to the Hot Wheels DLC, it will also unlock future expansions for you when they come out.

Buy from: Xbox (opens in new tab) | Steam (opens in new tab)

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.