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All Forza Horizon Games, Ranked

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All Forza Horizon Games, Ranked

Spin-offs Forza Horizon, Forza Street, and Forza Customs have held their own quite nicely, branching off from an already powerful racing simulator, Forza Motorsport. Above all, Forza’s mechanics, including engine and handling, soar higher than in a few other simulators out there. Its products are incredibly authentic and deliver realism most simulators could dream of. 

Even so, there are a few Forza Horizon games that outdo themselves, even ranking higher than a few of its parent Forza Motorsport series. That’s because of Forza Horizon’s touch of open-world arcade exploration, day-night cycles, and dynamic weather system, which was later ported into the main series as well. Today, we’re ranking all Forza Horizon games, even though all of them are really, really good. Some Forza Horizon games just do it better.

5. Forza Horizon (2012)

Forza Horizon - Launch Trailer

The first Forza Horizon game is also the worst, but only because the series keeps getting better and better over the years. It’s the first game that introduces street racing to a franchise that solely focuses on circuit tracks. Originally meant as a small spin-off, open-world racing combined with Forza’s exceptional engine-revving and handling quickly propelled Forza Horizon to the top of the best driving games.

Players cruise around a Colorado-inspired map featuring a fictional Horizon Festival. You engage in off-road races and competitions in a bid to be a part of the Horizon Festival. It’s perfect for drivers looking to casually take in the sights without a timer on their backs. You could still choose a fast-paced track if you took racing to the highways, but there still remains plenty of content to keep returning for more.

4. Forza Horizon 2 (2014)

Forza Horizon 2: Launch Trailer

Forza Horizon 2 cemented the spin-off's reputation for good, especially by introducing a brand new picturesque Southern France and Northern Italy open-world map. With two cities, players enjoy environments twice – nay, triple – as large as the first game. You could boot up your Forza Horizon 2 for the thousandth time and still find new activities to explore. Even if you forego actual adrenaline-pumping races, there’s AI to hone your diving skills against. 

Perhaps the major difference in off-road racing was the introduction of races across fields and dirt roads. It changes the playstyle and approach to racing completely, with far more chaotic handling and obstacles to consider. As you progress through events, you draw closer and closer to the festival, arriving with a more vibrant car collection and setting in style. Quality of life, day and night cycles, and dynamic weather patterns also made their debut in Forza Horizon 2.  When you consider the Fast & Furious Forza Horizon 2 crossover expansion, it seals the deal pretty well.

3. Forza Horizon 3 (2016)

Forza Horizon 3 - Launch Trailer

By now, Forza Horizon drivers had become global travelers. Players zoom into fictional sprawling Australian race tracks to get a taste of the newly improved Horizon Festival. They also have the chance to manage the event, injecting a new exhilarating dose of “career mode” into the series. You can make the festival as eventful as you can, with the freedom to set up new locations to unlock new events. And the map size—oh, imagine Forza Horizon 2, but twice as large. 

It was crystal clear Forza Horizon was on a roll, introducing stunts to the mix. Plus, a spice of innovation with skyboxes that are, in fact, based on real Australian skies and clouds. The car roster is the biggest yet, with over 350 cars to choose from. And the good ol’ special showcase events against speedboats and airships make a comeback. Care to tag a friend along? Well, you can have up to four friends team up with you or race against you. Your choice.

2. Forza Horizon 4 (2018)

Forza Horizon 4 - Official Launch Trailer

At the time, it was hard to imagine Forza Horizon 4 improving drastically on its predecessor. But the series just keeps getting better and better. This time, players cruise around the streets of fictional Great Britain. You have the freedom to devise your own tracks with the dynamic weather systems making a comeback. This time, players experience changing seasons. We’re talking winter, summer, fall, and spring, along with adjustments to your driving styles.

Much like Grand Theft Auto, players practically start a new life in Forza Horizon 4. You can buy in-game houses massive enough for your limitless car collection. Alternatively, you can tag online friends along, with up to 72 drivers popping in and out of the lavish open world. Increasing the number of online players greatly served to propel Forza Horizon’s popularity worldwide. Playground Games continued the expansion trend to include crossover themes from Hot Wheels and even James Bond. They also introduced a battle royale mode packed with hundreds of cars, races, and multiplayer events.

1. Forza Horizon 5 (2021)

Forza Horizon 5 Official Launch Trailer

Despite how many debates you hold, Forza Horizon 5 is hands down the best Forza Horizon game of all time. The series just keeps perfecting its craft all the way up to its latest installment, and hopefully, the next one similarly delivers. Millions of drivers huddled over to Forza Horizon 5’s online servers, dying to get a taste of the new installment. Their expectations were met tenfold, setting eyes on stunning fictional Mexico for the first time. 

Drive cruises aren’t just restricted to the city. You can get away into the jungle and skid past active volcanoes and ancient temples. If you wanted to take your mind off things, you could head to the beach. The best part about Forza Horizon is that the series never hesitates to introduce new features fans will enjoy. They also upgrade previous systems, especially the dynamic weather system, which remains the best one so far. The question is, would you drive toward or away from an incoming storm? These types of split-second QTE decisions elevate Forza Horizon 5’s experience and the series as a whole to an untouchable level.

So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our ranking of all Forza Horizon games? Which one is your favorite? Let us know over on our socials here.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.