Forza Horizon 5's emptiness is a real problem

It's been a few weeks since Forza Horizon 5 landed on Xbox and PC, and it's safe to say it's one of the biggest games of the year.

With more than 10 million players it has been not only a remarkable success for Playground Games but also a huge proof of concept for Xbox Game Pass Day 1 releases.

However there is an issue with the game, and that's just how empty it feels.

Massive Mexico

The Mexico map is a glorious representation of a country many of us may never visit. From stunning coastlines to wild jungles, ancient structures, and colourful towns and cities it's a wonderful world to explore.

There is also plenty to do, with races and PR stunts scattered in every corner of the world. The problems arise when you take your time to drive between these locations, rather than just fast travelling.

fh5 empty highway
expand image
EMPTY ROAD: Sure it's great in a Jesko, but for the most part a wide-open and empty road is just dull

While there is so much to do and see, the map just feels empty, and I'm not talking about the fields and desert. The landscapes of Forza Horizon 5 are stunning. It's the lack of people within it.

For a supposed festival there are very few actual festival-goers. The individual festival sights are jampacked with spectators that you can't interact with. If you go slowly through Guanajuato you'll see people in corner bars, and even out in the hills there are villas that look like a party is going on. But there are no cars on the roads.

Ghost town

You can take a blast from one end of the central motorway to the other without seeing an NPC car.

The same goes for sliding your way around Guanajuato. Where in FH4 you might have to skirt your way through some small village traffic or have a roundabout drift ruined by traffic you never saw coming, in FH5 there is no such danger. And as a result, there is little freeroam fun to be had.

fh5 empty bridge
expand image
STUNNING: Mexico looks amazing, but it's very empty

For a driving game, the lack of cars within the world is a bizarre choice, even the Los Santos of GTA V is busier with traffic to dodge. While some of the lack is made up with other players in your online session you can't crash into them, and they tend to congregate around seasonal objectives and the Eliminator, leaving the rest of the map an empty series of roads.

Festival atmosphere

The idea behind Forza Horizon, and that we see in all of the Horizon Stories and cut scenes, is a vibrant and buzzing festival that draws people in from around the country and the world.

fh5 people
expand image
WE FOUND THE PARTY: There are plenty of people, just not many drivers

That's a great idea and it worked in previous titles, but either because of the size of the map or the idea that online play would create that buzz, it just hasn't come across as an alive and exciting place in the same way the UK did in Forza Horizon 4 especially.

Hopefully Playground Games recognises this and beefs up the NPC cars rotating around the map. No one wants to get stuck in traffic jams going from one place to another, but it would be good to see cars rolling through Guanajuato, exploring up the volcano, and cruising down the coasts.

This Article's Topics

Explore new topics and discover content that's right for you!

Have an opinion on this article? We'd love to hear it!