Forza Horizon 5 is more fun with swears, and that’s a fact. No, I’m not talking about screeching expletives at some 11-year-old who retaliates in kind. I’m referring to the sheer joy of getting rude words past the license plate censor in Forza Horizon 5. In fact, I’ve spent as much time trying to fox Forza Horizon 5’s word bank as playing the game itself.
Why? I can’t give one single answer, though it’s a tradition as old as high score tables. Growing up, I was fortunate enough that, for whatever reason, the machines at my local arcade didn’t retain their high scores. So, provided I didn’t traipse in at the end of the day, I had a good chance of getting my name on the high score table.
And by “name,” I mean “nob,” “bum,” “poo,” or whatever three-letter words my juvenile mind could conjure up. Back then, arcade manufacturers had no censorship mechanism in place, so by the end of the day, the machines’ attract mode would flick up:
- NOB and so on.
No, I wasn’t the only one at it, but for me it was some small, silly act of rebellion against the games that had devoured a sizable chunk of my pocket money, even though I’d willingly fed it to those machines myself. And at the time, it seemed like the funniest thing in the world.
RPGs, at least the ones that put your name in the game, were fun to mess with too. The more po-faced they were, the better; you’d have these deep conversations about how to save the world, and then the game would turn round and call you Sir Piss.
But over the years, games manufacturers have wised up and started using word lists to block specific obscenities. Is this some colossal violation of our basic right to free speech? Of course not. But it’s still an awful lot of fun to see what you can get away with, which is where Forza Horizon 5 and its license plate shenanigans come in.
This open-world racer asks that you create your own license plate — a plate, mind you, that’ll be seen by any number of other human players online. You can probably gather where this is going — I’d dabbled with naughty license plates in Forza Horizon 4, but I decided to go all out with this new Mexico-based offering.
The prospect of roaring past another car with “PISSFLAPS” on the back of my car gave me a chuckle, but more than anything, I was just determined to find a loophole in the censor system, no matter which swears Forza Horizon 5 blocked. Forget The Terminator’s post-apocalyptic hellscape — this was where the true battle of man against machine would be fought.
The first step was to assess my enemy’s capabilities. I was a little lacking in tools because, while Xbox Series X generally supports mouse and keyboard, Forza Horizon 5 forced me to use a joypad to laboriously scroll through each of the eight character slots individually. But I was able to work out, relatively quickly, that typing in “SHIT” or any of the other “big” swear words wouldn’t work.
Round one to Forza Horizon 5? Don’t you believe it. I’d anticipated this, but it only made me more determined to press on. I could have resorted to Google or Roger’s Profanisaurus, Viz’s online swearing dictionary, but why should this battle of man versus machine hinge on another machine?
I didn’t plan to resort to pure slang, because I wanted whatever demi-obscenities I discovered to cross cultural boundaries, but I had one trick up my sleeve. I knew “BALLBAG” was censored in Forza 4, but I’d watched enough Rab C. Nesbitt to conjure up the Scottish equivalent, “BAWBAG.” Success! The censor remained untriggered, but I had no intention of stopping there; this was my spiteful retort to how Forza Horizon 5 had wanted to drag me into the Horizon festival. All I really wanted to do was roar around Mexico without having some announcer hail me as the second coming of Motorsports Jesus.
So I continued my assault. It was clear I wasn’t going to get away with any grade-A vulgarity, but I had a few lesser successes. I got away with “VAJAZZLE,” a license plate I’d successfully sneaked past Forza Horizon 4, but “QUEEF” and “QUEEFER” were right out.
But then, quite by accident, I stumbled across my enemy’s weakness, and from that moment on, victory was inevitable. Initially, I was baffled as to why it had accepted “ARSE” as a valid license plate, but then I realized I’d actually typed “ARSEA.” Suddenly, an idea hit me, and I swiftly confirmed a grand, game-changing revelation.
You see, the Forza Horizon 5 censor, or “language filter,” for license plates has at least two blocked word tiers. There’s a set it won’t allow you to use at all and a set you can use with a suffix or prefix. So “ARSE” was blocked, but “ARSEFACE” was happily accepted. “SHARTING” was next, and from that moment on, the world of rude license plates was my oyster.
It was around this point that the guilt hit me. I didn’t feel bad for ignoring Playground’s hard work and going straight to shoehorning swears into the game. But I did feel a little bad that, while I was chortling like a schoolboy, people were legitimately trying to put their names into Forza Horizon 5 and getting turned down. In particular, certain Arabic names were censored, though that’s recently been resolved.
A few hours later, I felt I’d collected enough questionable license plates, certainly enough to raise a few eyebrows as I virtually roamed Mexico in Forza Horizon 5. However, short of dipping into the foul waters of racism, homophobia, and the like, don’t let that stop you — I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve missed. In the meantime, if you’re playing Forza and see ARSEFACE drive past, give me a wave.