Forza Horizon 5 managed to secure a place among the best video games released in 2021, and continues to deliver a premier open-world racing experience to millions of players across Xbox, PC, and the cloud. Playground Games also constantly adds to the game with the Festival Playlist, giving players more to do every week.
Despite this, and all the other wonderful things about Forza Horizon 5 and its expansive open world, it hasn't been enough to halt the encroaching feeling of "burnout" surrounding the latest racing masterpiece from Xbox Game Studios. Players are itching for additional content to explore, and a trickle of new cars and challenges through the Forza Horizon 5 Festival Playlist is no longer enough.
Playground Games has already promised at least two DLC expansions for Forza Horizon 5, with both adding new areas to the Forza Horizon 5 map, new vehicles to the Forza Horizon 5 car list, and new gameplay to experience. However, six months after the launch of FH5, we still haven't heard any more about what to expect from either of these expansions.
Where is the first Forza Horizon 5 DLC expansion? What could it be? Is the Forza Horizon 5 Expansions Bundle really worth it? These are all questions populating conversations in the FH5 community, but answers, unfortunately, remain scarce.
Forza Horizon 5 Expansion #1: What we know now
I'll start off by stating the simple truth of the matter: We don't know much about the first Forza Horizon 5 expansion at this time. We know it's coming, and we can look at previous Forza Horizon titles to get a rough idea of what to expect, but there's not a lot we can say with absolute certainty. It's unfortunate, but six months after the initial release of Forza Horizon 5, Playground Games continues to elect not to share any new information regarding the upcoming DLC.
We do know that Playground Games is working on at least two DLC expansions for Forza Horizon 5, with both expansions adding a new area to FH5's already-gargantuan world, new cars to the roster, and new gameplay mechanics and features. A recent leak suggests that the first of the two DLCs should be close to a release, and is currently in testing.
According to Aggiornamenti Lumia, Playground Games and Microsoft began testing "WOODSTOCK_DLC_FLIGHT" through the Xbox Insider Hub back in February. "Woodstock" is the codename for Forza Horizon 5, so it stands to reason that this flight was for the first FH5 expansion. At the time, it was believed that this indicated an imminent release for the DLC, but nothing has changed three months later.
A separate leak, from before the launch of Forza Horizon 5, purports to reveal the codenames for FH5's various DLC. Part of the NVIDIA database leaks, and spotted by Reddit, the leak highlights Project Nightfall, Project Ventura, and Project Upside Down DLC, all of which are contained underneath the "Project Woodstock" (Forza Horizon 5) umbrella. While the codenames on their own don't reveal much about the DLC they hide, it has provided fuel for speculation.
Forza Horizon 5 Expansion #1: Exploring the possibilities
Members of the growing Forza Horizon 5 community have been publicly expressing their frustration at the lack of FH5 DLC announcements, especially with the silence continuing well past six months after the game's launch. However, the lack of information has encouraged rampant speculation, and I'm more than happy to participate in the cycle of conjecture.
I'll go more into when we could expect to see Playground Games reveal the first Forza Horizon 5 DLC expansion in a bit. For now, I want to discuss what Playground Games could be planning for the future of Forza Horizon 5, and what I'd like to see from FH5 expansions.
Following the precedent
If we look at previous Forza Horizon games, we may be able to ascertain a rough idea of what Playground Games may do with Forza Horizon 5's expansions. In the past, Forza Horizon games' first major expansion was typically released within 3 months of the game's initial release date (Playground Games has already missed this by several months).
With the exception of the first Forza Horizon (which had plenty of DLC but not full expansions like its successors), the first expansion has traditionally included a new area disconnected from the rest of the map, new cars to collect, and new gameplay mechanics and features that often ended up being a sneak peek into the future of the next Forza Horizon title.
Horizon 2's Storm Island more heavily focused on off-roading, which has continued through all future titles, Horizon 3's Blizzard Mountain debuted the snowy terrain that'd appear in its sequel, and Horizon 4's Fortune Island was the predecessor to the extreme weather events now in Forza Horizon 5.
The second expansion was usually released approximately six months after the first, and has historically featured a partnership or collaboration with another major brand, another new area, more cars, a fresh injection of new gameplay features, and even new story or career modes. Forza Horizon 2 partnered with Fast and Furious, Horizon 3 with Hot Wheels, and Horizon 4 with LEGO, and all three of these count among the most beloved Forza Horizon expansions.
We could also see something similar to Forza Horizon's Rally or 1,000 Club Expansion Packs, or Forza Horizon 2's Porsche Expansion, which still included plenty of new content for players to explore, but not a new area added to the map.
What does all this mean for Forza Horizon 5? Well, I'm expecting Playground Games to follow a similar pattern with its latest title. The first expansion will likely expand upon Forza Horizon 5's existing foundation, while adding something that may feature more prominently in the next Forza Horizon title.
Some have speculated that the previously aforementioned "Project Nightfall" DLC could be this first expansion, and that it may add a city even larger than Guanajuato to Forza Horizon 5. This could mean new features for fan-favorite street racing and drifting, and may be a precursor for what many Forza Horizon fans have been hoping for years: that the next Forza Horizon game will be located in Japan.
The "Project Ventura" DLC is just as likely to fit the bill, as "ventura" is Spanish for "fortune." Forza Horizon players have surmised the FH4's Fortune Island could be getting a successor in FH5, or that Playground Games is planning something even more ambitious, filled with grand adventure.
I've seen mentions of Cuba and Puerto Rico, but I'm not sure how likely it is that Playground Games would use a real-world location in an FH5 expansion, no matter how appropriate. Some FH5 players have proposed a Forza Horizon 5 expansion that features a reimagined version of the original Forza Horizon map set in Colorado, USA, as the iconic game is nearing 10 years old this October. I believe this to be slightly more reasonable, and I can't help but wish that Playground Games would make this happen.
Forza Horizon 5's second expansion may feature a new partnership, as well, although it's unclear what this could mean. I've seen Forza Horizon players suggest collaborations with Jurassic World, Disney's Cars, Micro Machines, and even the return of Hot Wheels (although this is improbable, due to the existence of Hot Wheels Unleashed more than maintaining the toy brand's presence in the video game industry).
As for the "Project Upside Down" DLC, I personally believe this may be a smaller, collaborative expansion that doesn't add a new area to Forza Horizon 5. One Reddit user suggested the DLC could be a "Stranger Things Pack," due to the name. It may also be a "Stunt Pack" with new cars, challenges, and EventLab props reminiscent of Forza Horizon 3's Hot Wheels tracks.
Of course, all of this is purely speculative, until Playground Games confirms or denies any of this. In the absence of verified information, all we have with which to entertain ourselves is an idle imagination, which is hardly a substitute for actual expansions.
A seamless map
One "rumor" I've seen circulated that I would love to see, and actually think is within the realm of possibilities, is that Forza Horizon 5 may finally include its DLC expansions as a seamless, connected part of its map. All previous Forza Horizon expansions featured entirely separate areas, making the experience feel disjointed from the full game. With Forza Horizon 5, could this potentially change?
Forza Horizon 5 features the first "living world" in the series, which means Playground Games can update and evolve it over time. FH5's map has already enjoyed a number of changes through the Festival Playlist, including the addition of new PR Stunts, decorations for events and holidays, the inclusion of limited-time areas like ice rinks and stunt parks, and more. It's possible that Playground Games may be able to go one step further by making any expansions naturally accessible from the main map.
Allowing players to drive to new areas, without additional loading screens, to explore DLC content in Forza Horizon 5 would help make the game feel like a more significant departure from its predecessors. As with everything else, this is simply speculation, but it's something I would genuinely enjoy seeing. Still, it's just as likely that Forza Horizon 5 will follow its predecessors and deliver its DLC expansions in the same manner: an icon on the map and a loading screen.
Forza Horizon 5 Expansion #1: When will we see it?
Even more prominent in conversations surrounding Forza Horizon 5's expansions than "What is it?" has been "When will we see it?" Previous Forza Horizon games saw their first DLC expansion around three months after release, but FH5 has been available for over six months without even an announcement. So what's going on?
It's possible that the scope of the first expansion required additional development time, just as Forza Horizon 5 itself did, but that doesn't help players looking for answers right now. Before the Forza Horizon 5 Series 7 update, Playground Games teased that an expansion-related announcement was imminent, but nothing came of the tease. With Forza Horizon players everywhere beginning to get antsy, there's only one obvious answer.
At this point, it seems almost certain that Playground Games and Forza Horizon 5 will make an appearance during the upcoming Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase, which is being held on June 12, 2022. There would be little reason for Playground Games to make an announcement so soon before the event, and it would make for a great platform to reveal the first FH5 expansion and entice new players to try the game.
Of course, this hasn't been explicitly confirmed. It is possible, albeit unlikely, that the expansion still isn't ready, and that Playground Games won't make an announcement until sometime after the event has already aired. I don't believe this is likely, though. For many FH5 players, an expansion announcement is exactly what they want to see from the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase.
Forza Horizon 5 is still one of the best Xbox racing games you can play, but the game has begun to feel stale even to committed players like myself. The Festival Playlist has done a wonderful job keeping the game feeling fresh for this long, but it's time to see what's coming next. Owners of Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition, the Premium Add-Ons Bundle, or the Expansions Bundle are all currently left without a significant portion of the content for which they've already paid, as well.
If Forza Horizon 5's first expansion is revealed during the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase, I expect it to release within a few weeks afterward. Previous Forza Horizon expansions were all released within a month or so of their announcement, and I expect that trend to remain constant with Forza Horizon 5. With that in mind, it shouldn't be too much longer before we can speed into the first Forza Horizon 5 DLC expansion.
Forza Horizon 5 Expansions Bundle DLC
For players looking to experience everything that Forza Horizon 5 has to offer, the Expansions Bundle is a wealth of brand-new content just waiting to release. While it doesn't provide anything yet, this DLC will grant access to two FH5 expansions featuring new areas, cars, and gameplay.
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Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.