After playing the marvel that is Forza Horizon 5 for over twenty hours I have decided where it sits in the ranking of the Horizon games thus far. Every game here is a solid racing game in its own right, but the time has come to separate the weak from the strong and categorically state the best game in the franchise.

For this list I’ll only be looking at the base game and not including the expansions released post-launch, partly because I want to rate them based off their own merits but mainly because Horizon 5’s expansions are still a way off!

5) Forza Horizon 2

What we have here is a game which tried too hard to push players towards off-road racing, but made everything off-road an absolute chore. Thanks to the hundreds of unbreakable trees and tight checkpoint markers dead set on spoiling the fun, after completing less than a dozen races off the sun baked tarmac, I pulled out all the stops for the game to never abandon the roads again.

The locale of the south of France and northern Italy does look very picturesque but the mood of the game was eternally soured when the developer admitted they had to scale back on the potential of the game so it would still run on Xbox 360. As someone who spent around £500 on a new console and games at the launch of the Xbox One, this was an inexcusable move and is why this fairly average game sits at the bottom of the list.

Good thing we have those off-road tyres on huh?

4) Forza Horizon 4

There was so much excitement when whispers of a new Forza Horizon game began floating around the internet in the build-up to E3 2018. The frontrunners for where fans of the franchise wanted the game to be set was Canada or Japan, but thanks in part to the final car pack being released for Horizon 3 being British cars, suddenly Britain was in the running for the fourth location of the Horizon festival.

I still remember the feeling of bitter disappointment when it was confirmed, yes, Britain was next up.

Very Return of the Jedi vibes

Even the trailer was dull. Sure, the racing itself looked excellent, as did the showcase snippet of the race against a hovercraft, but with endless green hills, green forests, green fields, and even some green cars, the main issue of such a setting was laid bare. Britain is boring, beautiful in parts, but ultimately boring. And it didn’t stop there..

Release day rolled around and immediately players were all asking the same questions: Why am I being rewarded with dance emotes? Why am I supposed to care about what my player avatar looks like? And most importantly: How do you turn off character cosmetics as race prizes?! It still blows my mind that this was considered a good direction for the Horizon games, and when they take away the strong racing element in the game all you’re left with is bland costumes and, in my opinion, the weakest soundtrack of any game of the series.

Now that Horizon 5 is out I can safely say I will never touch 4 again.

3) Forza Horizon 1

The first Forza game to branch off from the hugely successful Motorsport franchise from the racetrack and onto the streets, anticipation was high for this game. As it turned out, the first Forza Horizon game was a master stroke in game design with an excellent soundtrack, fun, addictive and responsive racing and a general party atmosphere.

Beep beep out of my way, I’m a motorist

Taking place in Colorado, this beautiful and varied map was stuffed to the gills with places to explore, discover and get lost in. The showcase events are what really cemented this game into memory, as within the first hour you find yourself racing in a 1970 Ford Mustang against a Mustang plane down a mountain track road. The feeling of elation when crossing the finish line in first place with the plane swooping down overhead was phenomenal, and when I went back and replayed the first Horizon game in its entirely a couple of years ago, it still held up for quality as much as it did in 2012. Gold star!

2) Forza Horizon 3

The third Horizon entry took everything great about the first two, shook off the lion’s share of issues, and thrust the player into a gigantic and gorgeous representation of Australia. Hundreds of cars to choose from, the best soundtrack of any Horizon game and a truly captivating quality that kept you playing race after race to see what the game would spring on you next.

LEEEEROYYYYY

The off-road racing made its first successful debut in Horizon 3, albeit still with the annoyingly narrow race checkpoints so you’d frequently find yourself bottlenecked with other racers trying to get through, but that fairly minor gripe aside what we have here is a perfect open world racing game.

1) Forza Horizon 5

It had to be Horizon 5. I’ve already gushed for 2000 words in the last week about the strength of this title so rather than repeat myself I’ll link the review here and the post-review here where I cover more important things from the game which didn’t make it into the main review.

Alright windows up, getting a bit drizzly

Forza Horizon 5 is available now on Xbox Game Pass, and is the greatest open world racer ever made. Enjoy!

Let me know your ranking of the Forza Horizon games in the comments or on Twitter @RespawningUK. Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you again soon!

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