Forza Horizon 5 Rally Adventure Review: More of the same

The second optional expansion for Forza Horizon 5 has landed, and thanks to some spectacular additions to the franchise so far, Rally Adventure has a lot going for it.

What is Rally Adventure?

The Rally Adventure expansion for the tentpole open-world racing game for PC and Xbox takes you to a new territory, away from the main Mexican map. It also introduces a new gameplay style for the series – Stage Rally.

This is done against the clock, with a co-driver reading out what type of turns lie ahead – such as easy, medium or hard left and right turns.

Your goal is to play through a series of events on different surfaces, either with your existing cars but modified, or with a series of new off-road vehicles that are only available if you purchase this new DLC.

Events are split between three characters and teams: Alex (Dirt Rally), Alejandra (Road Rally), and Ramiro (Night Rally).

Forza Horizon 5 Rally Adventure Teams

After choosing which events you want to participate in first, you need to reach a certain rank based on experience points to unlock more challenges. Reach the eighth level and win eight events and you’ll unlock a final Showcase-style one-on-one race with each protagonist.

The DLC launched on March 29 and costs $19.99/£14.99 for those who own the base game or play the Standard Edition through Game Pass. If you already own either the Premium Addons Bundle or the Extensions Bundle, all you need to do is install Rally Adventure at no additional cost.

Rocky beginnings

Things start out promising. Once you’ve blasted your way through the typically explosive introductory level, settle into the natural rhythm of the DLC, and it’s serious.

It doesn’t have the breadth of capabilities seen in the main Mexican territory, nor the sheer beauty of the first expansion – Hot Wheels.

In comparison, Sierra Nueva is monotonous. There’s what looks like a big gray quarry, and there’s, oh, at least two different shades for the gravel surfaces, plus the odd rock face.

Let’s put it this way: switching to photo mode in the Hot Wheels section would always yield a social media-worthy image, but finding something that looks suitably expressive is difficult in Rally Adventure.

As an optional addition, we didn’t expect it to be huge, but it also feels a bit small by Forza standards. Maybe that comes off because there are very little differences in each locale and there are fewer items to collect.

The vehicles must also be mentioned. For something with the word “rally” in the title and a recreation of time-based stages, there’s only one legit rally car out there.

Of the 10 included cars, there is only one “real” rally car. It is also a very special addition given to you from the start. Colin McRae and Nicky Grist’s 2001 Ford Focus used to compete for the World Rally Championship.

Forza Horizon 5 Rally Adventure Ford Focus Colin McRae

Seeing a name loved by rally fans and gamers alike appear in a Microsoft title got some of the Traxion.GG team members emotional.

But that’s it. Okay, you’ll be driving the Audi Sport Quattro S1, but that’s a returnee from Forza Horizon 4. The rest of the vehicle list is a mix of trophy trucks, some side-by-side buggies, and a regular civilian electric Ford Pick-up up with some stickers slapped on.

Worse, the Polaris RZR Pro XP and Alumicraft Trick Truck are slow, and in the latter’s case, a sluggish boat that’s reluctant to turn. They’re just not fun.

Rally Adventure - Everything you need to know about Forza Horizon 5's latest Expansion 02

Adding marshals to count you down and wave you away at the start of the event is a nice touch, but pointless when you realize you can’t skip the start anyway. The pacenote call for chickens is a cheeky treat at first, but loses its appeal after repeated use.

The ability to run every event, aside from that opening sequence, as a race – meaning not against the clock and with competing cars on the track – just like the standard content of Forza Horizon 5 can also take a bit of the shine out of the experience.

Forza Horizon 5 Rally Adventure Race or Rally

Look, we get it, it’s interesting to have the options and we’re not complaining. However, we recommend that you stick to the rally format to get the most out of your experience. Luckily, if you want to unlock all the vehicles, you’ll need to win every event at least once in the Time Chase setup.

stage win

So far it’s stuck headfirst in a ditch after a gratifying opener.

But then we slept on it and returned the next day.

Sometimes it can be taken for granted how extensive Forza Horizon 5 is. Its feature set is unparalleled, from weekly festival playlists to sharing liveries and tuning options online.

Also destruction. Sierra Nueva might be a bit flat compared to other expansions, but we’ll never get bored when we can aim for a marker and take any path we want to get there.

Forza Horizon 5 Rally Adventure Map

All the while getting beaten by John Munro through a Speedzone challenge, unlocking a wheelspin for even more rewards, and putting a PB on a danger sign jump.

You keep earning more, challenging your friends list and doing something stupid. Instagram is less addicting.

Despite the environmental criticism, there is the Valle De Pozas where almost every tree is destructible. Usually the larger chunks of wood are solid, but not here – maybe a test bed for future Horizon games?

Forza Horizon 5 Rally Adventure Tree smashed

Then you have the cars, and while most of what’s included in Rally Adventure is uninspiring, the developers at Playground Games may have known this was coming and have created some off-road racing accessories for existing vehicles.

Since you can use any of your collections for the events, including the Apollo IE for example – but please don’t – the ability to modify 25 eligible cars with additional braces, spoilers and light housings is a nice touch. Forget the new features like Launch Control or Anti-Lag, Light Pods are the most impressive change here.

So now I’m flying through the stages faster than Timo Salonen in my rally-converted 323 GT-R. That was a rally driver reference back then, sorry…

Forza Horizon 5 Rally Adventure Apollo IE

Also, while not staying true to the rally theme, one of the new fleet turns out to be a beast. The RJ Anderson Polaris #37 Polaris RZR Pro 4 Truck is more powerful than Adonis Creed. It doesn’t spin, it doesn’t growl. It charges forward with the aggression of a pit bull terrier.

You feel invincible and it fits a go-anywhere-do-any vibe.

As you progress, the usual litany of outfits, horns, and XP to earn are in place. It’s that reward loop that makes Horizon so good. If you’ve been playing 5 religiously for the past few weeks and then jump right into rallying adventure, you might be a little tired, but for those like us who’ve taken a little hiatus between Hot Wheels and this one, we were really suckered back in .

Forza Horizon 5 Rally Adventure Light Pod Vehicle Customization

The rally stages also have something, strangely enough, especially the asphalt stages, where we ended up clicking with the cockpit camera. Having to focus on the track, trying to set the best time while listening to your passenger – who is inexplicably in a helicopter rather than your steed – and not having to worry about overtaking fits so well to this perspective.

On board our Cossie V2 or 207 S2000, the cockpit perspective just fits like the last missing piece of a puzzle.

On the whole…

Ultimately, Rally Adventure is a worthy addition to Forza Horizon 5, it just took some time to find its place and understand where it came from.

It’s arguably a poor representation of the rally, still as rich as the existing Mexican content, and certainly not as pretty as the Hot Wheels DLC. No, you must frame it properly.

Every Apex Predator promo board in the Forza Horizon 5 Rally Adventure

What it accomplishes is to extend your time inside the deformable, jumpable, collectible game system that Playground Games created, with some fresh content and in a new space.

Additionally, thanks to its over-the-top sensibility, easy-to-understand writing and accessible setting, it will hopefully help a wider audience understand the appeal of rallying. In that sense, this is the closest thing to a Sega Rally reboot.

The Traxion.GG review verdict: Wish list

Full Disclosure: A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Here is our review policy.

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