Horizon Festival is back on, this time in glorious Mexico. Forza Horizon 5 is here. Before you hop in the driver’s seat, here’s what you need to know.

What is Forza Horizon 5?

Forza Horizon 5 is the latest driving adventure game from Playground Games. Horizon bucks the format of traditional track-based Forza games and takes you on an adventure to a foreign land under the guise of the “Horizon Festival”.

Horizon Festival is a series of driving events around a single country, all in different modes and stages. Sometimes you might be jumping a car a few hundred metres for a fictional photoshoot; other times you’re pushing a rally car to the ragged edge. It’s Carchella, this time set in Mexico.

The developers have cobbled together the best parts of Mexico for you to drive around, with the latest iteration of Horizon featuring a massive active volcano you can scale.

Forza Horizon 5 is available day one on Xbox Games Pass Ultimate, which you can get your hands on with Xbox All Access from Telstra.

Tips for getting started in Forza Horizon 5

Here’s what we wish we knew before we started.

Get your settings right

The initial setup gives you the opportunity to tweak really fine settings about how you can drive in Horizon. Whenever I get into a new game I always skip this step, but taking a bit of extra time for the sake of preparedness is going to put you in good stead for Horizon.

The tutorial is incredibly low-impact and really fun to fly through, too. With each mini-race ahead of the Horizon Festival getting underway, you can tweak and tune your settings to make sure you’re getting the most out of your chosen controller.

Drive a test race, tweak some more, drive another, make sure you’re getting the most out of your car to help unlock those crucial podium finishes.

Get to know the cars

There are a lot of cars in Forza Horizon 5. Like, a LOT.

There are five hundred cars in Forza Horizon 5, from rally cars to classics; EVs to hypercars. And there’s likely more to be added

It’s worth taking a look at the Forza Horizon 5 car list to really get to know what’s on offer.

By also taking a look at the price list, you can set a goal of which cars you want to acquire first. I’m the proud owner of a rose gold Porsche Taycan Turbo S as my first treat to myself, and boy does it move. Is it a common car? Yes, but it also has huge acceleration and an AWD system, so it’s great for getting around the map.

Each car is also suited for different races. Just because your Ferrari goes vrroom doesn’t mean you should use it for every race. Sometimes a Ford Focus RS will do the job even better!

Level up and spin your wheels

Levelling up not only gets you cred (shoutout to the Level 137 friend I see driving around), but also nabs you Wheelspins for in-game rewards.

Some rewards like Forza-exclusive legendary car builds are only available to be won, and not purchased. So making sure you’re spinning that wheel as much as possible is of huge benefit!

There are a tonne of ways to level up in Horizon, and not all of them involve placing first in races. You can set your map to only highlight XP bonus boards that can be smashed for additional points, or you can use your skill points that you pick up to nab additional XP or another free Wheelspin!

Customise, customise, customise

Fancy blowing up your entire car to customise every single panel? You got it.

What about fine tuning every single moving part before a race? Done and done.

The number of cars in Horizon 5 is eclipsed only by the number of customisable options.

You can even make a name for yourself in the Forza Horizon modding community by designing your own wraps and decals that other players can download.

Shoutout to the Aussie (clearly) who created the Bunnings Warehouse wrap for the HSV Maloo. Have fun getting that song out of your head all day.

Getting real with real estate

Don’t do what I did and put off visiting houses in Forza Horizon 5.

Each house gives you a unique ability, like periodic skill point boosters via the in-game radio stations.

Truly the best unlock, however, is the $2m house that unlocks free fast travel across the map. A great investment if – like me – you don’t have as much time to pour into Horizon as you’d like.

Go mobile with Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta)

We’ve been talking a lot about great new games on Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) recently, but Forza Horizon 5 is probably the title that shows it off best.

With Xbox All Access from Telstra, you can use Cloud Gaming (Beta) to load up Forza Horizon 5 on the go.

Horizon translates beautifully onto a mobile platform, and really shines on your big-screened, Telstra 5G-capable smartphone.

Someone in our team has been burning rubber on the go via their Samsung Galaxy ZFold 3 and it’s a revelation!

We’ve got a look at some of the best accessories for cloud gaming on the go on Telstra Exchange!