September 19, 2021

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From a Living Desert to a Volcano’s Peak: Exploring Forza Horizon 5’s Biomes and Seasons

While there’s no denying that flashy supercars and built-for-fun off-road vehicles are the stars of...

While there’s no denying that flashy supercars and built-for-fun off-road vehicles are the stars of the show in the Forza Horizon series, it’s the widely varied, based-on-real-life environments that really make the games shine. Whether it’s kicking up dust while blasting across the Australian Outback in Forza Horizon 3 or leaving a swirling trail of leaves through the English countryside on a crisp autumn day in Forza Horizon 4, we’ve all got great memories of exploring the vibrant worlds created by the developers at Playground Games. With Forza Horizon 5, the team has their sights set on the most diverse locale yet: Mexico.

“We knew from the beginning that we wanted this to be the biggest Forza Horizon yet. However, if we wanted to be the biggest, then we felt we also needed to offer the most diversity and contrast as well,” says Mike Brown, Creative Director of Forza Horizon at Playground Games. “Mexico is almost like the whole world in one country: snowy peaks, tropical jungles, epic canyons, beautiful beaches, ancient architecture, and modern cities. When you add on Mexico’s incredible culture – the music, the art, the history, the people – there is no more exciting location for the Horizon Festival.” 

The Playground Games team has broken down Forza Horizon 5’s Mexico into 11 distinct and unique biomes, each of which was painstakingly researched and recreated by the team. “Our team collects reference from the location and creates concept images that highlight the beauty and unique detail for each biome. We employ techniques such as photogrammetry to recreate the environment with precision accuracy,” says Don Arceta, Art Director for Forza Horizon 5 at Playground Games. “And we bring the beauty of the world in, through the sights and sounds you’ll find throughout every area. The goal of the artistic process is to make it feel like you’re really there.”

Seasons will also be returning to Forza Horizon 5, adding a new layer of diversity and complexity to the experience than previous Forza Horizon games. What’s more, each of the 11 unique biomes will transition though the seasons differently. As an example, spring means the rainy season in the jungles and farmland of Mexico, while summer could bring intense tropical thunderstorms along the coasts. Forza Horizon 5 seasons ensure Mexico is constantly evolving, encouraging players to explore the world in full each time the seasons change.

But what about the biomes themselves? Spread out over a map that’s about one-and-a-half times the size of Forza Horizon 4’s, the 11 biomes represent the most diverse map a Forza Horizon game has ever delivered. Let’s take a closer look:

Canyon

You might recognize this as the biome that was shown in the Forza Horizon 5 reveal trailer in June. It’s filled with rock formations patterned with unique striations, many of which erode into hoodoos that are only found in the canyon. Fun fact: each of the biomes have unique audio and the canyon has more echoes than any of the others.

Tropical Coast

This might be what you think of when you imagine a tropical Mexican vacation. Filled with palm trees, seagulls, white sand beaches and calm waters, it feels a lot like a postcard come to life. At least that’s the case until you reach storm season, which completely changes how you need to navigate it. Watch out for flying palm trees!

Farmland

Unlike the flatter or drier farmland found in some of the previous Forza Horizon games, these rolling hills are filled with lush vegetation, fruit-bearing trees, and wide, shallow rivers. You’ll have plenty of fences to smash through and picturesque homesteads to explore while you’re cruising through here.

Arid Hills

As you might suspect given the name, this biome is full of dry grasses on rolling hills and plains, providing plenty of open spaces to drive across if you feel like off-roading. One of the coolest features in this biome is a lake that actually dries up in the winter season, opening up shortcuts via fast passages and secret areas.

Jungle

Filled with lush, dense vegetation and towering trees that let beautiful rays of sun through the canopy, this biome also sports some impressive waterfalls and winding rivers. There are also a number of hidden temples in this area, all of which are based on real locations in Mexico.

Living Desert

In a first for the Forza Horizon series, Forza Horizon 5 features a cactus desert that’s full of towering saguaros. There are also a number of rock formations and rock piles that are unique to the area. As the name implies, it’s full of life and features plenty of flowers and wildlife.

Rocky Coast

While the tropical coast features lots of trees and vegetation, this one has a completely different vibe. Since there aren’t many trees, you’ll get a full view of the ocean and some excellent views of the sun setting at the end of the day. As a bonus to all you golfers out there, you can even take a spin around (read: through) a golf course.

Sand Desert

Full of towering sand dunes, this biome is perfect for cruising around in a buggy and carving into the sand. If you don’t feel like getting sand between your toes, many of the roads in this area feature long straightaways so there are plenty of opportunities to see how fast your favorite ride really goes.

Swamp

Although a swamp might not sound like the best place for a race, this biome’s shallow waters are a great place for it.   The swamp also features a lot of mangrove trees that sport very thick, interconnected roots. You can actually smash through these during races, changing the route depending on whether or not your car can handle it.

Urban City of Guanajuato

Like a number of cities in Mexico, there’s a good deal of amazing architecture and vibrant colors everywhere you look. Unlike a lot of cities, however, it features a lot of rolling hills and tunnels, making for some really fun race routes. As with the Canyon, you’ll hear plenty of echoes bouncing around the city’s tight roadways.

Volcano

In another first for the Forza Horizon series, this massive mountain is situated right next to the Living Desert. It’s a very high-altitude volcano, so driving to the top is a unique experience that rewards players by seeing way off into the horizon. This is also the only place in the game that you’ll encounter snow, so be sure to pack an extra jacket.

We hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at the diverse biomes you’ll encounter in Forza Horizon 5. This is the largest, most diverse open world ever in a Forza Horizon game, with a vibrant, ever-evolving landscape and limitless driving action in hundreds of the world’s greatest cars.

You can explore Mexico beginning on November 9, when Forza Horizon 5 releases for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC on Windows and Steam, and Xbox Game Pass including console, PC and Cloud Gaming (Beta).

Related:
Immerse Yourself in Mexico in Forza Horizon 5 and Experience Our Largest, Most Diverse Open World Ever
Forza Horizon 4 Available Now on Steam
Forza Horizon 4 Races to Steam on March 9