Rally has played a significant role in the automotive industry over the years, and Forza Horizon 5 is now acknowledging this important history (and the many rally games over the past few decades) in its latest ‘Rally Adventure’ expansion. Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time there’s been a rally add-on for the Horizon series. As you might recall, the very first Forza Horizon received a ‘Rally Expansion’ back in the day – adding new rally cars, rally upgrades and seven events across 20 different stages. This brings us to the fifth entry’s latest DLC, which is obviously a huge step up on the original game’s efforts.
Just like in FH5’s Hot Wheels expansion, you’re sent to a new area of Mexico in the Rally Adventure expansion called Sierra Nueva. It would have been nice if the main map was expanded considering this is just an extension of the existing landscape, but instead it’s once again an isolated area you must teleport to via fast travel.
Once you arrive, you’re thrust into your first rally race in the “all-electronic” 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum. You’ll swap over to the 2001 Ford #4 Ford Focus RS (made famous by the legendary rally driver Colin McRae) and from there you’re let loose. Once you’re done with the introductions, you’ll sign on with one of three teams – dirt rally, road rally and night rally. Each one speaks for itself with the kind of rally experience you’ll be getting. In every race you do, you have two options to select from – the new ‘Horizon Rally’ mode, where you follow a co-driver’s pace notes and race against the clock from point-to-point, and then the ‘Horizon Race’ mode, which puts you up against actual opponents. If you want to stay true to the rally experience, you’ll want to go with the first option.
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At times, Horizon Rally feels like a homage to classics such as Sega Rally and even the Colin McRae series. While we’re not saying it’s necessarily as good, generally speaking it’s done a respectable job recreating the rally experience in a fun arcade-like way. You’ll have a helicopter tracking you as you speed through turns and bends, and the co-driver calling out the next part of the course as you slide across the dirt. Playground Games also encourages players to turn off the ‘rally driving line’ in Horizon Rally events for a “more authentic and thrilling” experience. While the pace notes add to the authenticity of the rally experience, the co-driver’s callouts may not always come in time – to the point where you’ll find yourself relying more on your own line of sight as well as the race map. In general, it might come across as more of a novelty to some, and if you do activate the driving line, you may as well turn off the co-driver’s audio.
From beginning to end, the main team content should take players around a handful of hours. It’s kind of an anti-climatic finish, but once you’re done you can always go back and collect everything in sight, and finish the other version of every race – be it the ‘rally’ or ‘race’ modes.
As for the tracks and new map, it actually feels quite fun to drive. While it is mostly more environment, from lush rain forests and deformable sand dunes to an abandoned quarry, there’s really not a dull ‘driving’ moment when racing along this rugged terrain. There are winding roads that really do look like a scene out of certain arcade racing hits, huge canyons to jump, and then there’s also a great mix of dirt roads and even proper tarmac, which might have little bumps throughout them – adding to the whole experience. It’s a great mix, but in terms of landmarks and towns, there’s not quite as much to see here as certain other expansions in the past. A bit like the previous Hot Wheels expansion, Rally Adventure can also feel a bit static at times, but occasionally you will spot a flock of birds taking flight, or a huge waterfall.
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Factoring in the new electric F-150 and classics like the Ford Focus RS, there are 10 new cars all up, ranging from trucks to jeeps. A few more traditional rally cars probably wouldn’t have hurt. As for how they control, you’re going to feel yourself sliding a lot on the dirt tracks and wet roads. It’s not a bad thing at all though, and once you get in the groove, it feels great. The game’s also added launch control – meaning you’ll get that true rally start every time you begin the race. Adding to this are all-new rally parts for cars including bigger tires, allowing you to really embrace the landscape of Sierra Nueva. And for returning fans, you can also look forward to welcoming back the fan-favourite radio station Epitaph Radio (featuring a punk soundtrack). This is also included in the base game as a free update and comes with new music!
Forza Horizon 5: Rally Adventure is not only a love letter to the actual motorsport but also the video games that have paved the way and inspired series like Horizon. It might not be what everyone was necessarily wanting from the second and likely final expansion for FH5, but the driving experience here is fun from start to finish and remains the core focus – with dirt roads and tracks that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and all sorts of bumps and surprises along the way. It’s well worth your time if you’re looking for more adventures in the land of Horizon.