The prologue is one of the most important parts of any storytelling medium, whether its games, movies, literature, etc.., It serves an integral role in introducing the audience to the themes of the game, the characters (if any are present), and any other related functions the players should be aware of. A prologue should also be able to stand on its own, as a separate story from beginning to end, and we feel many games nowadays haven’t been able to utilize that to its full extent …that is, until Forza Horizon 5 came about.
It’s no secret that there are a lot of ongoing drawn-out comparisons between Forza and other console exclusives, which can be a large stretch for the misinformed. Not only does Forza Horizon 5 struggle with not having any iconic protagonists or some sort of narrative conflict that draws the players in, but it also adopts a very niche style of SimRacing gameplay that – and let’s be real here – is not much of a competition in the current demanding market. But oh boy we were so wrong about that, in more ways than one.
Forza Horizon 5 Official Initial Drive
The first 8 minutes of the game that inspired this article were actually shared not long ago on the official Forza YouTube channel. You can get a glimpse of what’s in store for you using the following link:
Into the Zone
Most Simulator Racing games look and feel like an assortment of functions and gimmicks that try to mimic the experience of driving a car, and that’s exactly why most of them end up lifeless and boring, because they don’t focus on the essence of it, or tell you why you should play our game, even if you were already a fan of car racing. Forza Horizon 5 is different, as its trying from the first moment to tell a story of why car racing is such a delightful experience, and it achieves that with flying colors.
From the first moment you grab the controller, you can notice that there are no menus blocking your view, and the absence of expository walls of text or spokespersons telling you how you should play the game. All of what you see is exactly what you get. The menu prompts are designed to co-exist with the narrative the game is trying to tell, about “Jumping into the Horizon“, and the fun starts immediately after.
A relentless Tempest
Video Games make it clear in the modern era that that they will have loads of content and varied biomes for the players to explore, but its not until playing through the base sections of the game will be the player be actually able to visit these promised lands, and many of them may not live up to expectations. Forza Horizon 5 does not have this problem because the primary race is a clever combination of all that the game has to offer, and sets the tone for the entire experience you will be having for the next 20-30 hours with it.
Forza makes its themes known from the start and is able to capitalize on them during the rest of in every possible way. Players are exposed to a strikingly seamless racing track starting from the snowy mountains and the exploding lava volcanos, asking the players to absorb all this audiovisual information without any breaks or tutorials, then shortly after it asks them to go off the beaten track and into the unknown and trust they will land safely. Everything is so bizarre and irrational to the point it’s actually pretty fun and provoking for the senses.
Pulling the audience
The director knows exactly when the player is starting to get adjusted to the driving and the scenery. Once you feel like you have seen it all, the game unhesitatingly hits you with a new car and track out of the blue. Once you leave the countryside you are quickly thrown into a vicious sandstorm, and then you find your self in a totally new car riding through the muddy jungles and fighting to handle the brakes on an entirely different terrain without a moment of respite to take your breath.
The prologue race makes it so easy to take in what’s Forza Horizon 5 is all about, as it does not care only about the realistic aspects of the sport, but it puts the player as a priority and cares about how they are interacting with the whole thing. I could remember many games that may have had a good story, but I wasn’t prepared enough or the framework that allows me to absorb the story in the most intended way wasn’t available from the beginning.
This game does not take a while to get good, nor does the rest of the experience feel distinct from the prologue section. The mission design, the natural habitats of Mexico, everything is made with love and care, but I don’t think I would be able to enjoy it in the same way if it weren’t for this amazing introductory section, which I personally believe is capable of changing any mindset about Racing Sims, or what Microsoft is able to provide for the next generation of gaming.