The second optional expansion for Forza Horizon 5 has landed, and thanks to some spectacular additions across the franchise so far, Rally Adventure has a lot to live up to.
What is Rally Adventure?
The Rally Adventure expansion for the tentpole open-world driving game for PC and Xbox transports you to a new area, away from the main Mexican map. It also introduces a new style of gameplay for the series – stage rally.
This is against the clock, with a co-driver reading out which type of corners are coming up ahead of you – such as easy, medium or hard left and right turns.
Your aim is to play through a series of events, on different surfaces, using either your existing cars but modified, or a series of new off-road focussed vehicles that are only available if you purchase this new downloadable content set.
The events are split across three characters and teams: Alex (Dirt Rally), Alejandra (Road Rally) and Ramiro (Night Rally).
After selecting whose events you would like to compete in first, you must reach a certain experience-point-based rank to unlock further challenges. Reach the eighth level and win eight events and you unlock a final Showcase-esque one-vs-one race with each protagonist.
The DLC launched on 29th March and is $19.99/£14.99 for those who own the base game or play the standard edition via Game Pass. If you already own either the Premium Add-ons Bundle or Expansions Bundle, then all you need to do is install Rally Adventure for no additional charge.
Things get off to an auspicious start. Once you’ve blasted your way through the typically explosive introductory level, you settle down into the DLC’s natural rhythm, and it’s staid.
It neither has the breadth of abilities seen in the main Mexican area, nor the sheer beauty of the first expansion – Hot Wheels.
In comparison, Sierra Nueva is drab. There’s what looks like a big grey quarry, and there are, oh, at least two different shades for the gravel surfaces, plus the odd rockface.
Put it this way, popping into photo mode in the Hot Wheels area would always deliver a social media-worthy image, but finding something that looks suitably punchy is tricky within Rally Adventure.
As an optional addition, we didn’t expect it to be ginormous, but it does feel a little small by Forza standards too. Perhaps that comes across because there is very little variance within each locale and fewer items to collect.
We must also mention the vehicles too. For something with the word ‘rally’ in the title and a recreation of time-based stages included, there’s only one legitimate rally car here.
Of the 10 cars included, there is only one ‘true’ rally car. It’s a super special addition too, gifted to you right out of the gate. Colin McRae and Nicky Grist’s 2001 Ford Focus used to challenge for the World Rally Championship.
Seeing a name so beloved by rally fans and gamers alike appear in a Microsoft title made several of the Traxion.GG team members emotional.
But that it’s. Okay, you will drive the Audi Sport Quattro S1, but that’s a returnee from Forza Horizon 4. The rest of the vehicle list is a mixture of trophy trucks, some side-by-side buggies and a regular civilian electric Ford pick-up with some stickers slapped on.
Worse, the Polaris RZR Pro XP and Alumicraft Trick Truck are slow, and in the case of the latter, a lumbering boat that’s recalcitrant to turn. They just aren’t fun.
The addition of marshals to count you down and wave you away at the start of the event is a nice touch, but pointless once you realise you can’t jump the start anyway. The pacenote call for chickens is a cheeky titbit at first but loses its appeal after repeat usage.
Being able to run each event, apart from that opening sequence, as a race – so not against the clock and with rival cars on the route – just like the standard Forza Horizon 5 content can take a little of the gloss away from the experience too.
Look, we get it, having the options is interesting, and we’re not bemoaning that. But we recommend you stick to the rally format to get the most out of your experience. Happily, if you’d like to unlock all vehicles, then you must at least win each event once in the time-chasing set-up.
So far then, after an enjoyable opening, things go stuck upside down in a ditch.
However, then we slept on it and returned the next day.
Sometimes it can be taken for granted just how expansive Forza Horizon 5 is. Its feature set is unparalleled, from weekly Festival Playlists, to sharing paint schemes and tuning options online.
Also, destruction. Sierra Nueva may be a little flat in comparison to other expansions, but we’re never, ever, bored of being able to aim for a marker point and take any route we fancy to it.
All the while, being beaten by John Munro through a speed zone challenge, unlocking a Wheelspin for yet more rewards and setting a PB on a danger sign jump.
You’re constantly earning more, challenging your friends list and doing something stupid. Instagram is less addictive.
Despite being critical of the environment, there is the Valle De Pozas, where nearly every tree is destructible. Usually, the bigger lumps of timber are solid, but not here – a test bed for future Horizon games, perhaps?
Then you have the cars, and while most of the ones included with Rally Adventure are uninspiring, developers Playground Games perhaps knew this was coming and created some off-road racing-themed accessories for existing vehicles.
As you can use any of your collection for the events, including the Apollo IE for example – although please don’t – being able to modify 25 suitable cars with extra braces, spoilers and light pods is a neat touch. Forget the new features such as launch control or anti-lag, light pods are the most evocative change here.
So now I’m flying through the stages with my rally-modified 323 GT-R faster than Timo Salonen. That was a rally driver reference then, sorry…
Also, it turns out, one from the new fleet – while not true to the rallying theme – is a beast. The RJ Anderson Polaris #37 Polaris RZR Pro 4 Truck is more powerful than Adonis Creed. It doesn’t rev, rather than snarl. It surges forward with the aggression of a pit bull terrier.
You feel invincible and it fits in with a go-anywhere do-anything vibe.
As you progress, the usual litany of outfits, horns and XP to earn are present. It’s this reward loop that Horizon does so well. If you’ve been religiously playing 5 the past few weeks and then jump straight into Rally Adventure, then you may be a little wearisome, but for those like us who had a little break in-between Hot Wheels and this, we were sucked right back in.
There’s something about the rally stages too, especially the asphalt ones funnily enough, where we finally clicked with using the cockpit camera. Having to zone in on the route, to try and get the best time while listening to your co-driver – inexplicably located in a chopper and not inside your steed – and not worrying about overtaking fits this perspective so well.
Onboard our Cossie V2 or 207 S2000, the cockpit perspective just fits, like the final missing piece of a jigsaw.
On the whole…
In the end, Rally Adventure is a worthy addition to Forza Horizon 5, it just took time for it to fall into place, understanding where it’s coming from.
It’s arguably a weak representation of rally, nor as rich as the existing Mexican content and certainly not as pretty as the Hot Wheels DLC. No, you must frame it correctly.
What it does achieve is extending your time within the deformable, jumpable, collectable game system that Playground Games has created, with some fresh content and in a new space.
More than that, thanks to its over-the-top sensibilities, easy-to-understand pacenotes and approachable stage design, it will hopefully make a wider audience understand the appeal of rallying. In that sense then, this is the closest you will get to a Sega Rally reboot.
Full disclosure: A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Here is our review policy.