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Everything that's interesting about rally, softened to be accessible in a way that I'm not sure was entirely necessary. Do these courses feel more rally-like than the base game? They do, but only by the slimmest of margins. They're the base game's off-road races with tighter turns and fewer straightaways. As a result, it requires better understanding of your car's handling than any of the base game's off-road courses, but it still pales in comparison to other rally games (even the ones with comparably arcade-style mechanics).
The rest of this review is going to dig into that last point, so I want to go ahead and get the "selling point" out of the way early: You buy this DLC if you want more off-road and mixed-surface races, or if you want to test Forza Horizon's absurd vehicle selection/tuning options on more technically demanding off-road courses. I spent a significant amount of time in the base game on the joke idea of trying to turn a Koenigsegg Agera into a viable rally car - you can! You can do that. Now you get more chances to test it.
Here's why it's a "softened" rally experience.
Pace notes are present but have been greatly simplified. I don't mind that they've ditched the numbering system that the most popular rally games use - turns are now "flat-out, easy, medium, hard, hairpin" - but there are other reasons why they're not useful here. You will get no information on whether a turn opens or tightens, whether it's safe to cut or not, etc. You can still "sight read" a lot of the courses just fine, you still have a minimap, and the limited vocab used in the pace notes makes them feel more like "flavor" than a "feature". You can't adjust the timing either, which has been pretty inconsistent in my experience - the most egregious examples have the co-driver telling me the turn I'm already navigating.
The races themselves take place on the same wide roads with decent lines of sight to the next turn, so those pace notes I mentioned can be completely disabled for the daytime events. The races are still one-and-done, single-stage events that (by default) retain the cosmetic-only damage model from the base game, meaning that you don't have to worry about endurance, or comeback opportunities on future stages, or any of the things that make longer rally events so thrilling.
Leave the difficulty on the same setting you did during the base game and you'll have a much easier time clearing these, too. I found that "Highly Skilled" provided a consistent enough challenge for me across all race types in the base game, but after cranking it up for this DLC I often still found myself 5-6 seconds ahead of 2nd place by the second or third split - in a single-stage event! I'm assuming it's still simulating Drivatars in the background but they do not seem to be doing too well.
The most loyal Forza Horizon players I know - the ones that eagerly await every DLC - they treasure the game for its variety. It is a big, plastic box full of toy cars and you can play with trucks or hyper-engineered hyper-speed hypercars and drive them on a long highway or over a big ol' jump, whatever you like. It's perplexing to me that the DLC with the most straightforward concept - "use whatever car you like in some mixed-surface races with a bunch of turns" - is the one where they seem the most afraid of stepping on the player's toes. I'm not asking for another simulator, because I know that's not what they're trying to do, but I still think this is a miss. Leaving both pacenotes and the minimap enabled by default is the most obvious symptom of the bigger issue here: it does not ask players to have the skill required to navigate a challenging environment at speed, and the tools it gives you are not developed enough to allow the customizable difficulty to compensate. These challenges are what makes rally exciting, what gives it a flavor distinct from the kinds of races that are represented in the base game. Don't get me wrong, the DLC is still enjoyable, but it's because the first three words are "Forza Horizon 5," not because of any interesting take on rally racing.
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