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Forza Horizon 5. Photo: Xbox Game Studios

An upcoming racing game uses Mexico as a backdrop and spotlights several Mexican artists and characters throughout the experience.

Why it matters: "Forza Horizon 5", scheduled for release Nov. 9 by UK-based Playground Games, is the latest game to hire consultants and local artists to craft a culturally sensitive experience around Latino themes.

Details: FH5 is the fifth "Forza Horizon" title and twelfth main installment in the simulation racing game "Forza" series set in fictional representations of real-world areas.

  • The video game takes users through Mexico's diverse landscape, from the mountainous tropical area, through traditional plazas, to the desert and Indigenous ruins.
  • Mexican actors perform voices of characters and developers sought to create an experience for users that feels authentic as in other Forza games set in Italy and England.
  • FH5 will be available on Xbox Series X|S consoles, Xbox One, PC and through Xbox's cloud gaming service.
Forza Horizon 5. Photo: Xbox Game Studios

The intrigue: Developers sent reference crews to Mexico for landscape, weather, and audio capture for the game.

What they're saying: "We've got a campaign that really leans into these feelings of adventure, discovery, and exploration as players set out across Mexico. They're gonna have an absolute blast," creative director Mike Brown tells Axios.

  • Brown said it was important to develop a game that players in Mexico would feel is representative, from recognizing park benches near their homes to spotting popular rivers and mountains that feel authentic.
  • "This game is about driving, about discovering things. It's not about violence, although you can drive through a nopal patch or a saguaro at 100 miles an hour and completely destroy it," Alcaraz said.

Our thought bubble: A couple of big gaming releases are tied to Latin American countries this season, Axios' Gaming newsletter co-author Stephen Totilo reports.

  • One of the biggest releases, Far Cry 6, is set in a fictionalized version of Cuba amid guerrilla fighting.
  • Some gamers are skeptical that new games will accurately represent their culture, after years of releases that have mangled Spanish, Arabic, and other languages not commonly spoken by major game developers. 

Don't forget: Alcaraz served as a consulting producer for the Disney animated feature film "Coco" and helped save the project after Disney tried to trademark Dia de los Muertos.

Go deeper

2021 was "landmark year" for video game dealmakers

Borderlands 3 from Gearbox, a studio purchased in February for $1.3 billion. Screenshot: Gearbox

There were more than 1,100 acquisitions, investments and other financial deals in the games industry in 2021, making it a “landmark year for gaming,” according to a new report by industry tracker Drake Star.

Why it matters: Gaming’s COVID-driven player boom in 2020 was followed by an investment boom a year later, resulting in an industry flush with people who want it to thrive.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 4 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.