Forza Horizon 5 vs. Riders Republic: Which racing game should you play?

Structurally speaking, Forza Horizon 5 and Riders Republic are identical video games.

Sure, their vehicles are different. Forza is a pure car racing game, while Riders Republic gives players bikes, skis, jetpacks, and more. They’re both categorized as arcade racers, but Forza requires a fair bit more technical skill if you want to beat series veterans. Meanwhile, Riders Republic is a little easier to master, as it takes more creative liberty with physics. At the end of the day, though, these are both big, open-world racing games where you’ll compete in a series of races, gain experience, enjoy some online integration, try your hand at custom modes, and amass a collection of vehicles.

Realistically, most people probably don’t have time to juggle both games. Each one is a live-service time sink that demands long-term investment. And to make the choice harder, they’re both great. Having trouble deciding which game is more your speed? Here are the key strengths (and weaknesses) of both.

Racing feels good in both

When it comes to pure mechanics, it’s ultimately just a matter of taste. Both games feature fun, streamlined racing mechanics. Riders Republic is the more “pick up and play” of the two. Racing is as easy as riding a bike. It’s also literally riding a bike. And a snowboard. And skis. And jetpacks made of cardboard. No matter what ride you’re using, the controls are intuitive and just require that you accelerate and steer. There’s a little more nuance, but the game never overcomplicates anything. Even drifting is as simple as hitting a button and jerking to the side, rather than having to brake and account for speed.

Forza Horizon 5 has a little more depth, by comparison. Just holding down the accelerate button won’t do. You’ll need to learn when to slow down, pump the brakes, or strategically slam the emergency brake. That adds some extra mastery to Forza’s driving, which is more appealing if you’re looking to play something over the long term and grow your skill ceiling. But if you don’t want to put too much more thought into it, Riders Republic is easier to pick up and put down.

Forza has a big tech edge

Let’s make something clear right away: Forza is the more impressive game, technically speaking. There’s no contest here. It’s a game that’s designed to get the most out of the Xbox Series X, and it certainly excels at that. It’s the best-looking current-gen game out there, and it’s a remarkably smooth experience. In 20 hours of play, I never hit a significant bug or crash. I can drive from one end of the game’s giant map to the other and not hit a single second of loading.

Multiple cars race in Mexico in Forza Horizon 5.

Riders Republic is a little rough around the edges by comparison. I’ve experienced several freezes and crashes while playing the game, one of which turned my Xbox screen black and forced me to restart the console. This is an always-online game, so you’re at the mercy of the servers here. I’ve found myself getting errored back to the main menu several times, or having Mass Race events shut down before they can start. It’s still a marvel thanks to its huge world featuring California state parks — fast traveling from place to place is lightning fast, too — but Forza’s the prettier and more reliable option.

Riders brings creativity

If you’ve played Forza Horizon 4, you’ve pretty much played Forza Horizon 5. It’s ultimately the same game on a new map. There are some extra features, but nothing that shakes up the basic beats in any way. That’s not a bad thing. If you’re new to Forza, you’ll be none the wiser. But the game doesn’t do much to subvert its formula. You’ll race cars until your hands hurt, with only a handful of short story missions playing around with that premise (like one mission where you take a runaway parade float off a ramp).

Riders Republic’s biggest strength is its creativity. It’s a downright wacky game that’s always finding ways to make creative use of its driving. Multisport races have players switching between jetpacks and bikes on the fly. Missions will task you with racing downhill while wearing a giant, inflatable giraffe suit. And the game’s 64-player Mass Races are a stroke of chaotic, slapstick genius. Forza ultimately feels better to me, but I’m more delighted when I pop into Riders Republic. I never know what will happen when I load into a mission, which is important for an open-world game like this.

Forza’s got style

Since the Forza Horizon series has been around for so long, Playground Games has had a lot of time to figure out its voice and style. That’s a hard task, and studios don’t often get it right on their first try. Five entries in, Playground Games knows exactly what this series should look and sound like. The game’s soundtrack is a tight collection of bops that are fun to drive around to. The various bits of writing, between NPC banter and radio host chatter, all match up with one another and create a world that feels consistent.

A red car drives fast in Forza Horizon 5.

Riders Republic, on the other hand, is a mess in this department. It’s not really clear what the game’s intended audience is. It’s kid-friendly, but also has an attitude streak. It’s got hip tunes aimed at younger generations, but then drops tracks by The Offspring and Ice-T in the same breath. Even worse, the dialogue is downright painful at times. NPCs are constantly cracking out-of-date jokes that feel like they belong in the MTV era. It feels like the game was made by a team of developers who grew up in the ’90s and are guessing what the TikTok generation likes. It’s very offputting, though understandable given that this is a first try at a new IP. Perhaps it’ll get it right on the second attempt.

Which should you play?

It really depends which details stand out to you the most. If you want a technically impressive racer with a refined vision of what it is, Forza Horizon 5 is the way to go. If you want something that’s a little easier to jump into and that isn’t afraid to get experimental, Riders Republic may be more up your alley. If you can play both, great — each is worth checking out.

Ultimately, Forza Horizon 5 does get an edge here. It’s an incredible achievement that fans of the genre ultimately shouldn’t miss. The fact that it’s included with Xbox Game Pass gives it an added edge — you might already have it, free of charge. But don’t sleep on Riders Republic. It contains plenty of fun twists on the Forza formula that have kept me delighted since it launched. Don’t be surprised if you see Forza Horizon 6 take a few notes from it.

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