Last month, Forza Horizon 5 was announced at E3, a trade event for the video game industry, where many developers, publishers, hardware and accessory manufacturers introduce and advertise upcoming games and game-related merchandise to retailers and members of the press. I was lucky enough to experience E3 first-hand and to be able to play-test and review some of them.
Forza Horizon 5’s takes place in beautiful and diverse Mexico. You can drive through Guanajuato which is a very vibrant city with unique architecture, however, the series is not free of the glaringly problematic problems that real cities such as Guanajuato are facing today.
In a standard Forza race, there are 12 or more cars, each one pumping copious amounts of carbon emissions into the air. Carbon emissions increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, which can harm the ozone layer (our only protection from the full brunt of the sun’s radiation). Greenhouse gas emissions have a direct correlation to global warming, which is not being taken seriously enough. This point is only strengthened in the Forza Horizon sub-series where you are given an open world to explore, and can drive anywhere you please. You are able to drive through the woods, and destroy small trees and bushes as you ruthlessly plow through the ecosystem with no regard for nature. Why would a series marketed towards a wide audience (as these games are rated ‘E’ for everyone) push such an anti-environmental stance?
I have a solution to this issue, and it’s very simple. In 2019, the Green New Deal was made popular by New York US Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. In it, she and many other incredibly wise elected officials proposed to cut a significant amount of carbon emissions by 2030, among other things that would greatly benefit humanity. One recommendation was to remove all non-electric vehicles from production, which could be easily implemented into the series to promote environment-friendly activism. Teslas are a very good example of a vehicle brand that doesn’t harm the environment, as they do not produce carbon emissions. Secondly, remove the ability to drive off road from the Horizon series. By removing the ability to drive off road, Forza is showing that the series is taking another pro-environment stance, because being able to destroy small trees, cactuses, bushes, and other important crops is unnecessary.
You can use the money in-game to upgrade your vehicles, which help you to win races and secure more money as a result. You can purchase new vehicles to give you a strategic advantage in races, but you need significantly more money to do so. And finally, the most egregious one of all: the auction house. In the Auction House, you’re competing with other players to buy cars in a standard auction format. What is the issue here? It allows only the richest to prosper, and the poorer (much like capitalism) are left with nothing. It encourages the richest players to push the poorer ones down, and get even richer as a result. As a result, poorer players are unable to win races against the richer players, causing them to be unable to obtain faster and better vehicles. The core gameplay loop of Forza as a series boils down to: racing, earning money, buying a car, and repeat. Comparing this to the standard worker in a capitalist society, their daily life entails: working at a meaningless job in a terrible environment, getting paid minimum wage, buying life sustaining supplies, and repeat. Can you see the similarities? Essentially, the gameplay system is a 1:1 replica of our capitalist society.
Additionally, the game series’ publisher is Microsoft Studios. Many are familiar with the creator of Microsoft, Bill Gates. With a net worth of 131 billion USD Bill Gates is more than “well off” and does not even understand the prices of basic human necessities like a box of rice, laundry detergent, and frozen pizza rolls as recorded on TheEllenShow. Bill Gates does not need any more of your money. He does not use his money to help others, and he has been scrutinized for sexual misconduct and questionable behavior with employees.
As a whole, Forza is a series that pushes environmental disregard and capitalist exploitation as its main values. From being able to level forests, to maintaining a capitalist system, Forza establishes terrible principles to learn from. It has a lot to do and a lot to fix in order to be an ethically upright series. Overall, I give the series a 3/10 because of these glaring issues. Once they’re fixed, I’m certain this rating will skyrocket. Until then, this series should be left behind.