Forza Horizon 5: Next-gen graphics comparison

Forza Horizon 5 is nearing release and we can't wait to get driving in Mexico!

We've now seen a lot of gameplay footage streamed from an Xbox Series X, so how do the graphics stack up compared to Forza Horizon 4 on an Xbox One X? Let's find out...

Does Forza Horizon 5 have ray tracing?

It has been confirmed that Forza Horizon 5 will have ray tracing graphics, but only in Forzavista. That's right, you'll only get the full glory of ray tracing at player houses and the festival site, not in photo mode elsewhere.

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Forzavista mode is the only place you'll find ray tracing graphics.

Interestingly, Horizon 5 does have ray tracing audio, which is used to generate accurate echoes such as in narrow streets or the canyon.

Draw distance and far-off detail

One area in which Forza Horizon 5 looks fantastic is in the landscape detail. God rays and more dynamic lighting generally make for an incredible view. Water looks more realistic at a distance and in general, we can believe we're looking at a photograph of a view, rather than a projection of a map with some trees and other detail sprinkled on.

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Forza Horizon 5 has much more dynamic lighting than its predecessor

In comparison, landscapes look pretty flat and lifeless in Horizon 4. The water looks less realistic and the sky is less dynamic. I took this screenshot on an Xbox One X at 1080p in quality mode and you can see a striking difference, even though I'm driving much slower here than the Bronco in the gameplay demo.

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Forza Horizon 4 landscapes look less dramatic

Vegetation and weather graphics

Forza Horizon 5 steps up the level of graphical detail in the vegetation. Every needle of a cactus is individually drawn on the screen, making the greenery much more lifelike. We're not seeing fields of cut-and-paste trees here. The landscape looks incredibly organic and we can believe that these plants have grown out of the ground to be unique.

Of course, this is all trickery and clever programming and design. We don't imaging artists created thousands of separate plants, but what we can say is that it looks great.

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Forza Horizon 5: a dust storm approaches

The weather has also seen a big upgrade. Previously, the whole map had the same weather at any particular moment. Forza Horizon 5 will have dust storms occupying a particular location. We're also expecting to see storms in the other biomes on the map.

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Forza Horizon 4: vegetation is a lot less detailed

Details like diverse foliage may seem minor, but they add up to make a big difference to the immersion.

Further graphical upgrades

The Playground Games team took a huge number of photographs of the sky in Mexico. They've used this data to make a much more realistic and dynamic sky throughout the new game.

They have also tweaked the appearance of the water. Different places on the map have a slightly different hue to pools and coasts.

You can see both of these upgrades in this screenshot

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More detailed skies and water make for a more real looking world

In Forza Horizon 4 the sky doesn't really change much and the water has the same tint everywhere.

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Horizon 4 lacks detail in the sky and in the water

I've taken these screenshots at roughly the same speeds so you can see the difference in the way the motion blur appears. I think Horizon 5 has a little more detail and less blur at medium distances.

Overall, these are relatively minor changes individually but it will add up to a much more immersive world.

Take a look at the Forza Horizon 5 initial gameplay video below and see what you think!

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