For more than a decade, the Forza Motorsport series has established itself as not only one of the most robust and realistic racing sims on console, but home to one of the most passionate and vibrant online gaming communities in the world. With so many unique features built into the base game already, like custom paint skins to shared time trials to becoming established as an esport, the series has done an admirable job of making you feel part of a larger global racing community.
Now powered by Xbox One X, Forza Motorsport 7 will not only improve the excellent racing experience with state of the art visual fidelity, but also expand upon the robust community features the series has come to be known for with even more options for custom liveries, new personalized driver gear, full support for Clubs on Xbox Live and more.
When speaking with the team at Turn 10 Studios, there’s three main things they want to make clear about the direction of Forza Motorsport 7. 1) This is, by far, the best-looking game they’ve ever made thanks to the power of Xbox One X, 2) Critically examine the series’ history to completely re-imagine the campaign, and 3) Unifying the largest racing community across the Xbox family of devices, including the series coming to PC for the first time via Xbox Play Anywhere with cross-play on Windows 10, and a wide range of racing peripheral support on PC (time to dust off that racing wheel that’s sitting the garage).
Thanks to the release of the free tech demo of Forza Motorsport 6: Apex and Forza Horizon 3 last year, it allowed the team begin preparing their engine for DirectX 12 to create a game with 4K fidelity on PC. And then taking that knowledge to develop for Xbox One X has allowed Turn 10 to make the cars look gorgeous, using technology like dynamic cube maps, image based lighting system, updated car materials — in laymen’s terms, everything just pops off the screen. With the Forza Tech engine running at 60fps in 4K, the team akin it to putting on glasses for the first time.
One of the most impressive visual features is the photogrammetry technique, allowing them to use photo references to build up the modeling and texturing in the game. So, for example, when you’re driving on the Dubai Circuit of the Emirates track (shown to us for this specific demo), you’ll see the actual rock formations where they are in real life alongside the course, in addition to other more subtler features like wind blowing sand across the track.
Another fantastic tech feature will be the dynamic environment being built into the game thanks to the power of Xbox One X. Cloud shadows will come and go throughout the race. Puddles will expand as the rain continues to pour. You’ll see a lightning storm on the horizon moving closer to the track the as the race goes on. These are the kind of features that will ensure that no two races will ever be the same, affecting how you’ll have to approach each turn, like how much larger will the rain puddles be going into the home stretch. Drivers are going to have a lot more to take into consideration while racing than simply crossing the finish line.
But really, what you want to know is how the cars handle behind the wheel. For our demo, we were racing the 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS on the Dubai track. Having grown accustomed to the more arcade-like controls from Horizon 3, it took a mile or two to reacquaint ourselves with the fact that this is, after all, a sim. We could feel the subtle weight of the car that demanded to be appreciated as we entered and exited the turns, or maneuvered between opponents through the sandy course. There’s an inherit level of strategy required to move up in pole position when “playing” Forza Motorsport 7, about when to brake, when to accelerate, that we could not take it for granted for a second if we didn’t want to crash into a barricade. Yes, we still scratched the paint (a bit), but it was so very clearly our fault for the way in which we treated our poor car. By the end of the race (we came in 12th), it was clear we’ll need to get in some more practice if we ever hoped to take that Porsche out for a spin again.
We also cycled through some of the many camera views available, admiring the exhaustive level of vehicle interior detail, including an in-cockpit steering wheel-less view helping the immersion factor for those playing with a racing wheel peripheral.
With more than 700 cars, including largest collection of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche’s of any racing game, car collecting will be a major focal point of Forza Motorsport 7 — especially regarding how player progression is being designed. Showcase events — one-off racing events that are uniquely designed to allow you to earn exclusive cars — make a return, as well as earning XP during races. But it’s how players will be rewarded is what is being changed here.
The short of it is, the more cars you collect, the better your rewards are going to be. Every time you level up, you gain a milestone reward that can be in the shape of cool driver gear or discounts of cars. Continue collecting cars will place you in a better tier to receive more exclusive rewards. This comes to the heart of making car collection a larger point of progression than your actual success on the track. Racing placement helps, sure. But if you want better rewards, you’ll want to build up your collection of cars.
Other pieces of collection will be with your avatar to tailor with driver gear, helping create even more options of personalization to help you stand out in that multiplayer lobby with your friends. And with Mixer integration and spectator mode, the next Forza Racing Champion series is sure to help establish Forza Motorsport 7 as not only a fun and competitive game to play together, but an exciting spectator sport as well.
We’ll have more to share on Forza Motorsport 7 in the coming months as we near release. In the meantime, keep it locked to Xbox Wire for more coverage on this exciting racing game as well as all of our stories coming out of E3 2017.