Playground Games have raised the bar for other racing games with their new character customisation features. Forza Horizon 5 has a huge array of options for players to create their avatar. Transgender, non-binary, and limb-different players in particular will have new opportunities to express themselves in-game.
A change in philosophy
Playground Games have set out to allow Horizon players to create a better representation of who they are in-game. Gone are the choice of just a few distinct people. The customisation is going to be much greater and better reflect the diversity of the world we live in.
There has still been criticism though: for example all of the models have the same slim body type and shortish stature. Perhaps this is an area where Playground Games can take another step for the next edition.
New character models
Using photogrammetry data of real actors, the Forza Horizon 5 team have included more faces than ever before in the Forza Horizon world. The cast of possible player characters includes faces from film and television such as Emma Naomi.
Naomi, known for her role in the Netflix series Bridgerton, also provides one of the voices you can choose in the English language version of Forza Horizon 5.
Each model can be customised with a range of hairstyles and hair colours. As with the voice options, these aren’t tied to either the male or female presenting character model.
We also have the option for prosthetic limbs. Any combination of your character’s arms and legs can be replaced as you wish. There’s a choice of colour options for the replacement limbs, even including a patterned design based on one of the in-game murals.
This could be something other game pick up on going forward. Not only are there some great racers who have undergone amputations in the world of motorsport (Indycar legend Alex Zanardi and Billy Monger being two of the most prominent examples) but also Microsoft have been pushing to make gaming more accessible. Making characters representitive is a positive motion in this regard.
The clothing has been revamped with a muted colour palette. The aim is that any combination should effortlessly come together as a coherent outfit. Traditionally male or female garments fit well on any model and combine to give a huge range of looks for your character.
In deference to the global situation, masks are available for your character to wear. It makes sense for our in-game selves to look how we often do in the real world for now.