This is it. At this very moment, I feel like I could actually be in with a chance of winning The Eliminator in Forza Horizon 5. I've bested the drivers who challenged me in head-to-head races in the arena, and now there are only 12 players left. All that stands between me and victory is one last race. My heart is pounding wildly as I speed across the Mexican countryside, my eyes are transfixed on the finishing line marker in the distance. Sadly, my hopes are dashed at the final hurdle; I'm not able to finish in first place, but you better believe I had an absolute blast trying.
The Eliminator is Playground Games' take on Battle Royale, where you drive within an ever-shrinking area of the world map. By finding car drops to switch up your wheels, you take on head-to-head races against other players and try to stay within the zone to make it to the final round. It's a very entertaining, car-appropriate twist on the massively popular multiplayer mode, and I'm continually surprised by just how much I enjoy it. You see, I'll be the first to admit that I don't handle online multiplayer games all that well. I tend to find them quite intimidating, and I've always leaned towards single-player experiences. But the Forza series has always been a bit of an exception in this regard, and I've been having the best time putting the pedal to the medal in Forza Horizon 5's multiplayer modes.
I've always found the multiplayer side of the Forza Horizon games fairly approachable. I think it's partly down to the fact that I've always felt very welcome on the road, and there's such a wonderful sense of community spirit, which is even more apparent in Forza Horizon 5. The Gift drop, for example, is a new feature that allows you to send a vehicle in your collection to someone else at random. It's a small addition that helps to foster a friendly community, and every time I've received a new set of wheels from a generous stranger, I immediately want to make someone else's day by giving one right back.
While there are plenty of competitive PvP modes like the Eliminator that pit you against other drivers, there's one mode, in particular, that brings players together for a spot of cooperative fun. Horizon Arcade presents you with a variety of different challenges, and it's up to you to work with fellow drivers to contribute to the group's overall score. From Arcade sessions that see you drifting in a designated zone to smashing as many pinatas as you can, and driving through speed traps, Horizon Arcade is a fantastic, fast-paced mode that pulls together lots of familiar challenges.
The event itself appears on the map as pink circles you need to drive into, and the session will kick off after a timer winds down. I appreciate the way the Forza Horizon 5 encourages you to say hello to any other drivers in the circle while you wait for the event to begin – a few times now, I've sat in these circles parked up next to other players while we play our novelty horn noises like some kind of makeshift car choir. Once you've successfully completed three arcade rounds and the event comes to a close, you'll even be given a prompt that asks if you want to remain with the group you just played with, so you can easily jump into another mode with the same players. While the Arcade mode is a great cooperative experience that's a lot of fun to jump into when you're playing with pals, I've also found it to be a great place to meet other drivers when I'm playing solo.
While I've actually been enjoying the online multiplayer races and modes on my own with random players, there's nothing quite like playing with friends or family. I was first introduced to the Forza Horizon series thanks to my dad, and we've long since bonded over each entry. We decided to work together to complete several of the festival playlist goals in Forza Horizon 5 and to try out some of the modes we hadn't dipped into on our own.
Once we successfully formed a convoy, we revved up our engines and drove straight to a Horizon Tour event to take part in a series of races against other drivatars. Opting for co-op instead of PvP, everyone taking part is split into two teams, with my dad and I being on the same side. Each player can earn points that goes towards the team's overall score and winning position by overtaking other drivers and being in the lead. I've always much preferred cooperative play when it comes to multiplayer, and I love that the option is included in just about every kind of race in Forza Horizon 5.
There's also a mode called Playground Games, which offers up a variety of different competitive minigames. With the likes of Flag Rush, Infected, Survival, and Team Crown, these quick-fire games see two teams compete to earn the most points. A playlist party event took me and my dad through each game in succession, and we really got to put some of our teamwork and tactics into play – especially when we dived into Flag Rush. One side has to pick up flags and successfully secure them by driving into a designated zone, while the opposing team has to essentially crash into the opposing cars to take away their flag before they can reach the area. When it came to stopping the other team, we worked together to cover two different sides of the zone and stop as many drivers from reaching the goal as possible.
With so much variety when it comes to multiplayer modes, there really is something for everyone to enjoy in Forza Horizon 5. And as someone who tends to shy away from this side of games more often than not, I'm pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoy racing my way through challenges against other players in the latest racing adventure. Not only have I loved trying out these modes with family, but I also find myself wanting to jump into a session when I'm playing on my own thanks to the way Forza Horizon 5's multiplayer events encourage friendly competition and teamwork. Despite some bumps in the road with server issues that Playground Games has been addressing in recent months, I've had an absolute blast with the multiplayer modes. I can hardly wait to take on the Eliminator again… hopefully, someday I'll finally be the last driver remaining.