Drivers needed to impress by racing to their fullest at various organized events and activities to earn new wristbands and eventually take on the notorious racing megastar Darius Flynt in a “Champions of Champions” finale event.
In the years since Colorado 2012, Flynt is no longer considered the headline act at the Horizon Festival, which has expanded to include Southern Europe, Australia, Britain, and Mexico.
Forza Horizon is undoubtedly the global road-trip of unforgettable driving adventures, so strap in and buckle up as we celebrate a decade of the world’s greatest automotive festival.
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Forza Horizon introduced us to the Horizon Festival in Colorado, a summer gig for aspiring racers, car lovers and music fans alike. It was a significant milestone for the Forza franchise, which for the first time would allow players to discover an open world with the driving physics of Forza Motorsport at its core, refined to conform to the new sandbox.
The Horizon Festival also acted as a central hub for everything drivers would need. There was an Autoshow to acquire new cars, a Garage to fit modifications and upgrades, a Paint Shop to create or download liveries, and a Car Club where you could join a group of likeminded players.
Darius Flynt was a name mentioned in just about every conversation at the Horizon Festival. As a former three-time champion who even created a brand around his name, this was the competitor that everyone had on their radar. Before racing Flynt for the title, aspiring drivers would need to earn a series of wristbands to prove their driving skill. Each wristband unlocked a Star Showdown event, which put the rival’s signature car and their cash on the line. With 250 drivers actively competing in the Horizon Heats, only one could emerge as champion.
Outside of the races, Sponsor Challenges opened new avenues for stunting and cashflow around the Horizon Festival. With ten ranks to level up across fifteen challenges, this was the activity to refine skills and master the art of driving stylishly. Located all over the map, PR Stunts unlocked fast travel discounts for those willing to enlist in their high-speed driving and photo challenges.
Forza Horizon set the foundations for many series staples, such as Skill Chains, which scored the player points and multiplied them based on their driving finesse. There are also discoverable Barn Finds with rare classic cars hidden around Colorado that were long abandoned and certainly in need of fixing up. Showcase events pushed the boundaries of a traditional race and throughout the Horizon series have invited players to take on aircraft, locomotives, motorbikes, sea vehicles, and even hot air balloons!
In addition to monthly Car Packs, Forza Horizon received two expansions. The Rally Expansion Pack introduced the Horizon Rally Championship, where players could take on epic rally stages behind the wheel of legendary off-road tuned cars, while the 1000 Club Expansion Pack, which was free to download, added a unique set of challenges to every car in the Forza Horizon garage.
Forza Horizon 2
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Forza Horizon 2 broke down the racing barriers, leaping onto Xbox One powered by the ForzaTech engine of Forza Motorsport 5. It paired stunning visuals with the gorgeous environments of France and Italy. There was also a new challenge for drivers to tackle with dynamic weather and increased player freedom thanks to a truly open-world environment. Drivers could smash through fences and go cross country around the map with tailored races to support this, which have remined a Horizon staple to this day.
Southern Europe is renowned for its road-trips with some of the most awe-inspiring vistas and stunning driving roads in the world, and Forza Horizon 2 tapped into this with a campaign mode focused on leading your own road-trip. You chose the car class and where the adventure was headed next before setting off on the road-trip alongside the other drivers. While you could always go off the beaten path, staying on road allowed you to set records on Speed Traps and Speed Zones setup all over France and Italy. Shoutout to Ben and the crew for keeping it all organized!
Forza Horizon 2 introduced new social features to help you connect with your friends and the wider community. Seamless multiplayer with no lobby screens meant you could easily find players to cruise through the European vineyards, drift around the iconic shipyard, and race together.
Players were also invited to participate in Car Meets to check out each other’s cars, share liveries and even tuning setups, the latter of which made its Horizon debut in Forza Horizon 2. Meanwhile, Clubs and Club Leaderboards allow likeminded players to easily link up and compete for the top of the global rankings.
Like its predecessor, Forza Horizon 2 received numerous post-launch content in the form of monthly Car Packs and expansions. Storm Island focused on off-road gameplay introducing a new tropical island with extreme weather conditions and custom rally upgrades for cars, while the Porsche Expansion introduced some of the German automaker’s most iconic cars, as well as Porsche themed Bucket List challenges and Rivals events.
Last, however certainly not least, there’s Forza Horizon 2 Presents & Furious – a standalone, spinoff game that was originally a free download in celebration of the release of Furious 7. Players were recruited by Tej Parker to acquire ten special cars for his Fast & Furious crew by taking part in street races and challenges inspired by the movie! Did you know this is the only Forza game to feature nitrous?
Forza Horizon 3
Release Date: September 27, 2016
With Forza Horizon 3, the Horizon Festival expanded to PC with cross-play and campaign co-op! For the first time, you could team up with your friends across PC and console and help each other progress through the Land Down Under. You’re the boss at Horizon Australia, and you made all the decisions, such as where to build new Festival Outposts, the hiring and firing of Drivatars, and signing new radio stations to broadcast on the airwaves.
At the time, Australia was our most diverse map. You could start an adventure exploring the vast desert and rocky canyons of the Outback before trekking through the lush, wild rainforests and driving by the sandy beaches and gleaming skyscrapers of the Gold Coast. Your Skill Score for driving stylishly is boosted along the way thanks to new Skill Songs, while PR Stunts expanded to include Danger Signs and Drift Zones.
While developing Forza Horizon 3, Playground Games built a new 12K HDR camera rig system, shipping it across the world and sleeping in the wilderness to capture full 24-hour cycles of the Australian skies. The result of all this effort? Truly spectacular, realistic skyboxes rendered in-game with clouds that morph and physically accurate lighting effects. The technology was also deployed for Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Horizon 5, becoming more sophisticated and improved over the years.
Forza Horizon 3 allows you to customize everything! In addition to choosing your own name and character, you can modify cars with unique body kits and curate events to your liking using the Blueprint system. This was also the first Horizon title to include Forzavista, so you could inspect cars up close and in detail. Speaking of cars, Forza Horizon 3 introduced new types of vehicles to take advantage of its hugely varied map, including off-road buggies, trophy trucks and Utes, the latter of which are rooted in Australia’s deep car culture.
Forza Horizon 3 featured Weekly Forzathon challenges where players were given the opportunity to score new cars and rewards, including the Halo Warthog and returning fan-favorites like the 1994 Nissan Silvia K's (S14), the 2011 Lamborghini Sesto Elemento and the 2010 Ferrari 599XX. On top of monthly Car Packs, many of which were coincided by the sighting of a new Barn Find, the game received two beloved expansions. In Blizzard Mountain, drivers faced snow, ice, extreme elevations and blizzards while exploring an alpine tundra in their quest to become the King of the Mountain. That one also introduced snow tires and new off-road ready vehicles!
Meanwhile, Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels featured six new islands off the coast of Australia delivering high-speed stunts on miles of looping, banking, giant iconic orange Hot Wheels tracks with boost pads, half-pipes, massive jumps and even mechanical dinosaurs! Drivers got to step behind of the wheel of some world-famous Hot Wheels vehicles, such as the Twin Mill, the Rip Rod, and the Bone Shaker.
Forza Horizon 4
Release Date: October 2, 2018
The Forza franchise made its Xbox Game Pass debut with Forza Horizon 4. Dynamic Seasons change everything in beautiful, historic Britain, where every week, the map is refreshed with a distinct new look and appropriate weather scenarios. From glorious Summer sunshine to a Winter Wonderland, from the stark contrast of Autumn to the fresh crispness of Spring; the British lakes, valleys, castles and breathing scenery all adapt to the weekly game world changes.
Horizon Britain is also a shared open-world populated by real players instead of Drivatars – though they remain an option for those playing offline. This ensures everyone experiences the same time of day, weather conditions and seasonal changes. A Quick Chat feature allows players to engage with each other in the world and recommend gameplay activities.
Forza Horizon 4 introduced a new open-ended campaign structure, where everything you do in the game contributes towards your progression. There is no “wrong” way to experience Forza Horizon 4, as you lead your own British adventure to become a Horizon Superstar. This even applies to the cars in the game, as each received its own Car Mastery skill tree with unlockable perks.
Meanwhile, Horizon Stories introduced fresh characters inviting drivers to participate in a series of challenges. Some even let you acquire businesses, including a supercar rental company, a taxi firm, and a delivery office, all of which generate an ongoing side revenue based on your completion of each. Purchasable houses were also located around Britain, including esteemed residences such as Bamburgh Castle and Edinburgh Castle.
The Festival Playlist made its debut in Forza Horizon 4, accompanying the weekly season changes. It brings together all the activities in the game – Seasonal Championships, Online Adventure, PR Stunts, Monthly Rivals, Forzathon challenges and Playground Games – in one central destination. To this day, the Playlist is the preferred way of unlocking new cars and cosmetics, as well as rare items and returning rewards.
Forza Horizon 4 received two expansions. Conquer extreme terrain, lightning storms, and perilous roads in search of hidden treasure in Fortune Island, our most treacherous map ever. It introduced Trailblazer PR Stunts and solvable Treasure Hunt riddles – both of which persisted into Forza Horizon 5 – as well as twisting mountain switchbacks and ocean cliffside roads, the ideal topography for drifters and skilled drivers alike! As they say, fortune favors the brave.
Everything is awesome in LEGO Speed Champions, the second Forza Horizon 4 expansion that fulfilled your LEGO driving fantasies! Players are presented a wonderful LEGO Valley to race and explore, as well as a Master Builder’s House with a garage of iconic LEGO Speed Champions cars, including the 2018 McLaren Senna, the 1987 Ferrari F40 Competizione, and the 1967 Mini Cooper S Rally.
After these expansions, Forza Horizon 4 introduced new game modes in The Eliminator and the Horizon Super7. The Eliminator is Forza Horizon’s unique twist on battle royale, where players search the map for higher-level cars and challenge other drivers in head-to-head races. Keeping an eye on the ever-enclosing circle is key, because if you stay outside of it for too long, it’s game over!
Meanwhile, the Horizon Super7 gives players the tools to construct their own Bucket List challenges by crafting a unique driving route or stunt and bringing it to life by placing props from the Blueprint Builder Library. This set the foundations for EventLab in Forza Horizon 5. Players earn a reward by completing all seven community created challenges served up by the Super7, while the High Stakes mode added a risk-reward flavor to the mix.
Forza Horizon 4 is optimized for Xbox Series X|S with higher fidelity graphics in 4K at 60fps. With increased shadow, reflection, and particle effects quality, as well as faster loading times and Quick Resume support, this upgrade allows players to jump into the Horizon Festival faster than ever and drive through Britain with improved visuals and performance. On March 9, 2021, Forza Horizon 4 arrived on Steam including all previously released updates and downloadable content – introducing a whole new PC audience to the shared open-world beauty and fun of Horizon Britain.
Forza Horizon 5
Release Date: November 9, 2021
Welcome to Horizon Mexico! Our biggest and most varied location yet for the Horizon Festival. It’s only been a year since we launched Forza Horizon 5 and, in that time, you’ve led incredible driving expeditions, battled intense dust storms and tropical storms, and toured the world with your friends. From the historic city of Guanajuato to the towering snow-capped Gran Caldera volcano, Mexico is incredibly biome diverse with deserts, jungles, ruins, beaches, canyons and more to discover.
The team authentically captured Mexican culture, and this is shown in our Horizon Stories where you meet local characters to learn more about their values, family and traditions. One example is Vocho, where you find Papa Fernando’s long lost 1963 Volkswagen Beetle and restore it to its former glory, hearing family stories about the legacy of the car and its driver along the way.
We evolved Forza Horizon 4’s on-the-hour Forzathon Live events with Horizon Arcade, which brings players together in a series of fun minigames and over-the-top challenges all around Mexico. There’s even our own twist on “Simon Says” that we call Mini Missions!
Other social features include Forza LINK, which enhances Quick Chat functionality with the ability to start Convoys and assist players in the open world, such as if they need help locating Barn Finds, while Gift Drop is a new way to share cars, liveries and tunes to lucky members in the Forza community! For driving aficionados, there’s Horizon Tour, where you can road-trip with friends across Mexico and compete against Drivatars.
EventLab expanded the Super7 toolset of Forza Horizon 4 with a richer prop library, less constraints and new “Rules of Play” options that can be used to script custom scenarios and game modes. The possibilities are endless as EventLab empowers players to create their own expressions of fun. Over the last year we’ve already enjoyed some incredible community events – spotlighting our favorites on the Festival Playlist and in PG Editor’s Choice.
Forza Horizon 5 continues to expand with its monthly series updates introducing new gameplay features, rewards cars, and content, as well as Evolving World augmentations. These consist of new smashables to find, temporary festival outposts, PR Stunts and decorations, a holiday market and there are even stadium overhauls, which have seen it transformed into an ice rink and a stunt park.
In July, we released Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels. Players discovered our fastest, most extreme tracks yet on Hot Wheels Park, a whole new world of racing in the clouds high above Mexico. In addition to new Hot Wheels cars and track toys, faster car classes were unlocked by completing Missions to earn Medals. There were also gravity-defying Magnet tracks, as well as Ice and Rumble tracks, and even Dragons to uncover. The Hot Wheels Creation Kit allowed EventLab creators to build their own Hot Wheels experiences, including in Mexico for everyone to play!
Most recently, the Horizon 10-Year Anniversary Update saw the return of iconic cars and characters in the Horizon Origins story, head-to-head races called Midnight Battles, and the Horizon Mixtape bringing together some of your favourite tunes from the past decade of the Horizon Festival. For EventLab creators, we also added props from each of the previous Horizon games, allowing their legacy to always live on in your creations. Of course, Forza Horizon 5’s monthly updates continue, and there’s plenty more to come, so stay tuned!
We’d like to take this opportunity to express thanks to the millions of players at the Horizon Festival who have joined us on this journey while extending a special thank you to the those who’ve created a community that lives and breathes Horizon, as without you, we wouldn’t be here!
To all of our incredibly talented content creators, from those who share videos and livestreams to the tuners, livery artists, photographers and EventLab creators, as well as our community leaders, ambassadors and moderators, we recognize all your efforts, we appreciate you all, and we’re grateful to share the open road alongside you.