Forza Horizon 5 went gold, the game is coming in less than two weeks and recently the press had a chance to get to grips with what is effectively the first hour of the game, with the intro player, a showcase event, a number of races and challenges in open world and the arrival of the player in his very first house. Oli Welsh has already shared his first impressions but for Digital Foundry, the preview was a chance to get acquainted with the technology, get a feel for how the new Xbox consoles are put to the test, and most importantly, see how the game can evolve d ‘one system to another.
Scalability is key to Forza Horizon 5 for several reasons. First of all, it’s a Horizon game that supports more platforms than ever before. Along with the PC (with its own scalability challenges) and two quite different Xbox Series consoles, there’s also the Xbox One, not to mention the Xbox One X. The preview code that we had only worked on the new machines, so quite how Playground intends to run the game on Xbox One remains to be seen, but there may be some clues looking at the code for the series, mainly because the quality modes and performance are included. Oddly enough, whether you’re using the X-series or its junior counterpart, both run at the same resolution: 3840×2160 or 1920×1080 respectively, although with potential hints of dynamic in-game resolution scaling on performance mode ( the truth is, it’s pretty hard to tell).
The DF team reunites for a full 4K Forza Horizon 5 special, based on the recent one-hour press preview code.
With the code we have, the Xbox Series X running in quality mode is clearly the top level experience we were able to sample. The frame rate is set at 30 fps (more on that shortly), allowing for the densest, richest, and expansive Forza Horizon experience we’ve ever seen. The signature Horizon introductory drive begins with the 2021 Ford Bronco arriving by plane (!) Sunlight cuts the view in half, cutting the smoke rising from the lava. One turn later, and we’re in full sun, where the environmental density increases even more, working in combination with wider views – a cohesive view of the car to the horizon, with no sign of LOD of objects. – which means no ‘pop’, whether on geometry or textures. It is topped off with a few high altitude jumps which are simply breathtaking.
A high-speed race through a dust storm follows, showcasing Playground’s new particle and volume systems, before taking a detour into the jungle – the most detailed and also the most technologically difficult biome, in Because of the lavish amounts of trees and foliage, it all always runs full blast at the target frame rate, no matter which mode you choose. The final race takes you out into the wilderness for one last high-speed race to the Horizon Festival, bringing a satisfying conclusion to the game’s introduction, but in reality, that just sets the scene for what’s to come.
The question of how this phenomenal experience cuts the chain of series consoles and graphics modes perhaps gives us a glimpse of how the game will adapt to a less powerful kit. It starts with the Performance Mode on the X Series, which doesn’t compromise on resolution (except for potential dynamic resolution scaling) but is clearly a different experience. First of all, it must be said that the implementation at 30 fps in quality mode is remarkable: the shutter speed of motion blur is perfectly judged, the frame rate never drops, while the game always seems very responsive. There may be more to it, but the combination of the implementation and the rich visuals is going to give players an interesting choice. It might not be 60fps, but it still looks a lot better than a 30fps update would suggest.
Performance mode still manages to capture much of the richness and density of the game, but a layer of post-process realism is removed, along with some effects and, most importantly, some detail. Less critical environmental elements such as rocks and vegetation are absent, the quality of shading appears to be reduced in some areas while motion blur is significantly less controlled. The effect of the breathtaking views of Mexico is not so diminished, however, as the distant details seem very similar to the game fully unleashed. Perhaps the most notable tradeoff, however, is that the almost flawless change in level of detail transitions in quality mode is less robust in performance mode. What’s odd here is that the LOD popping seems to adjust depending on the density of the scene – easily noticeable in the jungle, not much of a problem in the desert, for example. It feels like we’re not looking at roughly tuned global presets here depending on the mode you choose, but maybe something more dynamic. This wouldn’t be too surprising considering the fact that Forza titles on PC offered dynamic parameter adjustment (to the point where we ran Forza Horizon 3 all the way to 4K30 on a GTX 970 using the dynamic / high setting) .
Those looking for other examples of S-Series scalability may come out wiser, as evidence from a few hours of playtime suggests that the only major difference between the X-Series and the S-Series is resolution. Quality and performance modes are always included, with the same differences between them: effectively, with 1080p60 mode, you trade a pristine 1080p30 experience for a more “game-like” image with strategic pinches and folds on levels. detail, quality shading and even more particularly in the coherence of the movement thanks to visible pop-ins during the densest scenes. In all modes of both consoles in the series, frame rates were perfect in all the content we had to test.
Laser trace? Yes, it is also available in the preview version. As already announced by Playground Games, RT is only available in the Forza Vista area of the game and only with the game set to quality mode to start. Basically you visit the in-game garage where you can take a close look at the vehicles at their highest level of loyalty. Those hoping for a showcase of Control-style reflections may be disappointed. In fact, you might not understand how RT is deployed at all until you take a closer look at the screenshot gallery below (and even then use the full image switcher to see how it works) but essentially RT beautifies the existing highlights, which are already pretty impressive. The detail of the vehicle itself is plotted in the reflections, as opposed to the full reflections of the surrounding environment and the self-reflections of the vehicle. RT is then more functional here, adding an extra layer of realism. We’d love to see this in-game for quality mode, but the existing reflections still seem pretty impressive to the point that many thought they were produced by ray tracing.
The Forza Horizon 5 press preview delivered a lot while leaving the vast majority of the game out of sight – leaving us hungry for more. Nothing we’ve seen so far suggests that the Xbox Series versions will be anything but great, while the Quality and Performance modes each shine in their own way. Generally, it’s hard to recommend anything other than 60 fps or better, but the feeling is that Playground Games has finely refined the 30 fps quality mode to the point that it’s actually quite different to choose between the two. We’re going to be fascinated to see which direction players go with this one – when we edited the video, we actually had to have a short chat to decide which mode to use for the b-roll gameplay shots (we opted for fashion quality). But beyond that, have we learned much more about how the Xbox One is going to come close to the level provided by the consoles in the series? The truth is that the best information we have on this subject always comes from What Forza Horizon 5 Creative Director Mike Brown told us at E3:.
“While Forza Horizon 5 was designed to showcase the capabilities of the X | S consoles, in order to provide the best experiences on a wide range of PCs as well as Xbox One, we have invested in a number of future-proof technologies, such as than dynamic resolution scaling (DRS), variable plot distances and a robust level of detail (LOD) system, “he said. We now have a sense of how these systems work. thanks to the differences in graphics mode and performance seen in the Xbox Series code we had to play – and it will be fascinating to see how far these systems evolve. Forza Horizon 5 will launch on November 5th and we will do our best to deliver the better PC and console coverage possible closer to launch.
Article source https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2021-forza-horizon-5-hands-on