Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels Review - Screenshot 1 of 3

There was definitely some confusion when the first Forza Horizon 5 expansion was leaked on the Steam Store – indicating it would be Hot Wheels (again). While it was thought to be placeholder artwork for something else at the time, it was in fact another Hot Wheels expansion. This announcement received mixed reactions when it was officially confirmed by Playground Games – with some embracing its return and others wondering if it would just be a quick rehash.

If you did play the original Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels Expansion in 2017, you should already have a good understanding of what to expect going into the fifth game’s first expansion. It’s another dose of Hot Wheels racing and that means more orange tracks, loop-the-loops, fire hoops, speed boosts and giant dragons hanging over certain segments of the course. The Event Lab track builder and community-created events also spice things up.

As the player, you’re once again thrust into an isolated location, this time known as ‘Hot Wheels Park’ – set in the clouds above Mexico. Here you’ll race across multiple biomes, 80 distinct snappable track pieces, race 10 “amazing” new cars – including iconic Hot Wheels racers such as the Deora II and Baja Bone Shaker, learn about the history of Hot Wheels in special events and participate in plenty of insane stunts.

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Your task at Hot Wheels Park is to work your way through the ‘Hot Wheels Academy’ – five separate classes from rookie to legend rank. In these tasks you’ll complete the usual races, sprints, destroy objects and complete various other missions. As you progress, you’ll then be able to use more of your cars within the Hot Wheels expansion. Not everyone may appreciate their existing car collection being locked off from particular races or other vehicle restrictions in place, but it does encourage players to progress through the missions and ranks, and perhaps enjoy each car and class unlock just a little more.

The expansion itself looks straight out of the Hot Wheels toy line - with loops as far as the eye can see. Admittedly though, there does feel like a lot of empty space in-between the racing lines, with not much going on when you’re free roaming in each area above the sky. You might see other racers, but it can still feel a tad lonely sometimes. There are things like moving objects and environmental features such as waterfalls; however, a lot of other parts of the track feel quite static.

Another thing that not everyone might necessarily be a fan of are restrictions of the track. There are some areas in each biome where you can race along the sand, snow and other terrain types. However, in most cases, you’ll be between the track’s barriers. Fortunately, there are now more track parts than ever – such as water slides, magnetised segments, ice roads and boost zones, and it’s much bigger than the scale of the original Hot Wheels expansion.

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When the original Hot Wheels expansion was released during the Forza Horizon 3 era, it was a new and exciting themed DLC. It was different from what had been done before and did a great job freshening up the festival experience - providing something players hadn’t seen previously. The second coming of Hot Wheels in Forza Horizon is definitely a larger-scale experience this time around, but how much enjoyment you get out of it may depend on if you’ve already played the previous Hot Wheels expansion, along with how creative the community can get.

Conclusion

If you are new to Forza Horizon's Hot Wheels expansions, you’ll likely have a blast with the latest one. It's once again a nice change of pace from the main game – with cars reaching all-new top speeds. For returning players, you can go into this paid DLC knowing what to expect, although it may not be quite as thrilling as the first time for some veterans. At the same time, you could say the Hot Wheels expansion for the Forza Horizon series has now been fully realised thanks to the power of Xbox Series X|S. It’s got us excited to see what’s next for the fifth entry in terms of future expansion content. So go on, get out there and burn some rubber.