Predicting the top 5 best driving roads in Forza Horizon 5
With the full map revealed, I decided to attempt predicting what some of the best driving roads will be. in Forza Horizon 5.
Forza Horizon 5 is the “talk of the town” in the racing game community and it's pretty obvious why: It's a new Forza Horizon title, it's set in Mexico, we've got a metric crap-ton of new features, sounds are (seemingly) fixed, and we were recently treated to an image of the full map!
A truly majestic sight to behold, isn't it? More than enough to bring a tear to a nation and heroic enough to rival man's first steps on the Moon, this map upholds the hopes and dreams of a generation unlike any racing game before it. OK no, but it is joyous to see such a big map right? And you know what the best thing about an open-world car game with a big map is? The roads!
Road design is a never-ending discussion within the Horizon community, and it kind of has to be. While no Forza game can claim to have the accuracy of roads found in simulators like Euro/American Truck Simulator or even some open-world map mods in Assetto Corsa, getting the design of the roads right is still a very important factor when making a Horizon title. You can't simply throw a dart on a globe, Google what the roads in that area look like, and call it done. Road signs, which side they drive on, road width, and many other factors that differentiate American roads from Asian roads or European roads all need to be taken into consideration. It's those factors and others that help define how roads vary around the world and give them distinct flavors. For example, no open-world car game set in Germany would be complete without an Autobahn. No open-world car game set in Colorado would be complete without mountain roads. Immersion is the name of the game and developers have to get all these and more factors right if they want gamers to truly feel like they're driving in a virtual version of a real place (or a close enough approximation of said place).
Today though, we're not talking about the intricacies of replicating real-world places in a video game or even in the Forza franchise. My task today is far simpler: To predict what will be the 5 best driving roads in Forza Horizon 5.
“… Aren't you jumping the gun slightly Cody?” A little, but thanks to the recent reveal of the full map of FH5, I think I can reasonably guess what will be some brilliant driving roads just based on what I can see from the –glorious– full map. Before I begin in proper though, a disclaimer: I'm excluding the tarmac road that goes up to the volcano and the other touge-style switchback road you see on the map. Those are obvious choices and I didn't want to choose the low-hanging fruit. Disclaimer aside, let's begin!
5: This Road Near The Middle Of The Northern Quarter.
Nestled between a mountainside and a more northern road, this stretch of tarmac is at the bottom of my list because it's not as curvy as I would like. Sure, there are a lot of corners (plainly), but they're spread too far apart for my liking. A road like this, in my opinion, might be best enjoyed in an A-Class car or up, and that's why it isn't higher on this list.
With that said, it's not half bad! Starting from the east and working our way west, the road gets really good about 1/6th of the way through. Appearing to either climb as it dissects the two cliff faces, or run along the bottom. Personally, I think the road climbs while it snakes in-between the cliff faces because it then runs on top of the accompanying mountain. This wouldn't be possible if the elevation of the mountain matched the elevation of the surrounding area nearby (as there wouldn't be a mountain otherwise), so that can only mean one thing: we've got a road that runs along a cliff! I have no doubt this will be a popular photography spot (and if not, it certainly will be for me).
While that is the highlight of the road for me, there is more to enjoy than that. For one, the road looks to be reasonably close to the edge of the mountain, that means we'll be able to see a good portion down the map from here (assuming the road is as close as I think it is). Not only that, but if we go a 5/6th of the way down we see what looks like hillsides similar to the ones in the LA canyons (if you don't know what I'm talking about, look up TheSmokingTire LA Canyons and you might find some images of what I'm on about). Perhaps this is wishful thinking on my part, but I think a feature like this would be fantastic.
It's reasonably curvaceous as well. There's a decent mix of corners and straights, even if this road leans more towards straights than corners. However, the real superstar of this road isn't even the road itself, it's the topography. The hills, cliffs, and views are the best part of this road to me. Which is why it's in fifth place. Vistas and topography matter, but we're talking about driving roads, not vista spots.
4: This Road South Of The City
Only two words are needed to describe this road: Short and Fast. While it isn't much, I've included this short bubble of tarmac on this list because it doesn't have the excess of straights the road above and below do. Hopefully this will make it a haven for slower cars (C-class to B-Class) such as hot hatchbacks and alike.
Another noteworthy feature of this road is that it's south of the main city. If it's elevated enough, you might even be able to see a good portion of the city from this area. That's important, because how cool would it be to see a chunk of the city at night from the road!? Again, another potentially awesome vista spot.
While it's not as… “expansive” as the other roads on this list, it appears to have much of the same features and plus-points! Though only time will tell if this is truly the case.
3: This Road Near The Fifth One
corners and some straights, but those straights are too prevalent and the corners too sweeping, once again leading to a stretch of tarmac that I feel is best driven with some faster machinery (upper B-Class minimum).
If you are in a faster car though, this road should be highly enjoyable. Starting from the right side, you're met with –what seems to be– a fairly tight hairpin which leads to not only the road opening up, but the hills giving up their secret. A short straight is quickly met with a small kink and another (slower) corner after that. This is where the road really begins in my eyes. You see a long sweeper which carries you around the hillside that sits opposite to you, only separated by a small but beautiful river which the tarmac runs beside. The sweeper gets a bit tighter, revealing to you a short straight (and possibly a bridge) that deposits you on the opposite side of the river. Through this, the hill you were just driving beside can now be seen in its full glory. Another zone for acceleration ends with a cute chicane, followed up by a gentle curve and yet another spot to put your horsepower through its paces. Here, in roughly the middle, is where the road begins to open up. Another bridge can be found, returning you to the bottom side of the river, which leads up to another long sweeper. It's at this point where the road opens up quite a bit. Perhaps ideal for a short jaunt up to 170 MPH? Well after that you'll certainly be hard on the brakes in order to make the last corner. Here at the very end, we can see that the curves return once more, but only for a short while.
To sum up: It's not tight and twisty like Fuijimi Kaido, but fast and flowing like Maple Valley. With Vistas to match if not exceed.
2: This Road Near The Southern Edge
Alrighty y'all, now we're getting into the really good stuff! Situated far south (just below the main highway), we have this lovely stretch of road that connects the east side of the river to the west side where said river becomes a lake. While it certainly appears to be a tad short, this road is placed above the others for one simple reason: Its curves.
Unlike the fifth and third entries in this list, this road doesn't suffer from a poor straight-to-corner ratio. That means it should be enjoyable in a greater array of automobiles, and that makes it a better driving road than all the others listed above. Not only that, but it's longer than the fourth entry on this list, meaning you've got more road to enjoy (aiding in its superiority). Indeed, this road appears to have all the makings of not just a “good” driving road, but a great one.
Better still, I think this is the first road we've come across where the quality of the tarmac is better than the quality of the vista. Don't get me wrong, having asphalt run alongside a lake-turned-river like this is fantastic, but a road that looks like this running alongside a lake-river hybrid!? I think the point has to go to the road, if only marginally. Think of it this way: This road would be awesome no matter its location on the map. It's not gaining points because of its location (cough entry five and three cough).
which leads seamlessly into another gentle curve. Right after, we have another... gentle sweeper. So far, things are looking a tad... fast. While the very next corner is a slightly slower “hump”, we've certainly gotten off to a shaky start. Thankfully, this is where things start to get really good. After the slow hump, we encounter a long right-hander followed by a short straight that leads into yet another right-hand corner. Shortly thereafter, a gentle left-hand corner introduces us to a noticeable straight for which we can accelerate down with fervor. The short reprieve from cornering doesn't last long though, as a long left-hand sweeper tracing its way around the hillside greets us at the end of the braking zone. Yet another, even shorter, straight makes our acquaintance after that. Beyond the short straight, we're graciously assaulted with a barrage of turns that should be bliss for Miata or GT350R drivers. Another brief, almost “curved straight”, gives way to a more prominent corner that ends in darn nearly a hairpin. Fortunately, the exit of this acute-turn-in-a-hairpin-jacket opens up more than enough for you to start the madness of acceleration all over again, though not for long. A left-hand kink funnels you perfectly into a slow right-hander that demands you brake. A brief gap between corners is found yet again, but the gap between the turns is so brief they actually share zip codes. Following up is another acceleration zone, except here the gap between turns here is more noticeable. A double left-hander similar(ish) to the double right-hander at Monza informs you of the terrible news that you've almost reached the end. As a parting gift, the road straights out and allows you to floor it one last time before finishing the run.
I won't lie, after running that analysis, I now realize there's more straights than I initially thought upon first glance. Even still, this road deserves to be No.2 on this list because of its barrage of corners, healthy doses of straights, and overall length. It's got the best of all the prior roads incorporated into one package.
1: This Road Slightly Further South
And now, the road you didn't know you were waiting for: That one right there! Located –humorously enough– just below the second entry, this road has everything. A bevy of corners, a plethora of straights, potentially some elevation change, a beautiful bridge above (near the middle), a dense forest all around, and best of all: Genuine Length.
In fact, I won't be analyzing this road because it's so long. The paragraph would be a wall of text and, frankly, I just don't have the patience to write that all out. However, the photo above should be more than enough for you all to look it over yourselves and see just how splendid this section of road is. Having said that, let me give you some highlights...
1– The twisty switchback section on the upper right side: There's a legitimate double hairpin like something you'd see on a Touge road, and the straights in-between both and after the second one will be awesome for AWD cars (total “point and squirt” territory). Perhaps this area will be good for replicating those hairpin drift videos we see all over the internet as well.
2 – The long and fast sweepers on the bottom: After a somewhat slow start near the beginning (if you're entering from the upper left side), the section near the bottom should prove to be nirvana for players who want to stretch the legs of their car a bit. High horsepower, moderate top speed, high downforce cars will love this section (Viper ACR, 911 GT3 RS, Lamborghini Performante, Jaguar F-Type Project 7, Corvette Z06, Mustang GT350R, etc). Even faster machinery like Koenigseggs and the Bugatti Divo will enjoy this section of tarmac. The same is true if you enter from the upper right side as well. This fast and flowing bottom-quarter of the road will likely become a welcome reprieve from the constant slow-to-medium speed cornering of the rest of the road.
3 – The opportunity to drive under the big bridge: Need I say more? How cool will it be to see that magnificent bridge from the ground below? The pillars and wires towering above our heads like the marvel of engineering that it is. I bet it'll be so majestic it'll have one of those Vista cut scenes about it (and if it doesn't, Playground will have committed a crime against bridges and missed an obvious opportunity).
What do you all think though? Do you like my finds? Are you still mad I excluded the switchbacks? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Originally posted to Cody's Car Conundrum on 9/19/2021.