Welcome to “Green Hell”: Adding the Legendary Nordschleife to Forza Motorsport

Forza Nordschleife Hero

Unforgiving, stunning, hellishly challenging: the Nordschleife, the oldest part of the legendary Nürburgring in the Eifel region, is also known as the “Green Hell”. The term derives from Formula 1 world champion Jackie Stewart, who looked down on the track surrounded by forests from a helicopter in 1968 and said: “It’s going to be a green hell this weekend”. We spoke to Alexander Gerhard, Head of Communications Nürburgring, and creator rAii, racing game expert and part of “Die Pixelhelden” on YouTube, to explore the legend of the Nordschleife.

After many years of development, Forza Motorsport was released in October 2023 including the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit and numerous other world-famous racetracks. In February, Update 5 brought the iconic Nordschleife to the game. The 20.8-kilometer track is now available free of charge for all players.

But what exactly is it that makes the Nordschleife so fascinating? Who else could answer this question rather than Alexander Gerhard, where squealing tires and roaring engines are part of everyday life at his workplace at the Nürburgring, and rAii, who has turned his passion for racing into a profession as a creator.

“The Nürburgring was built in 1927 with extraordinary length through the middle of the Eifel forests. It remains the longest permanent race track to this day. Even back then, the racing drivers who came to the Nürburgring knew what an incredibly special and challenging track the Nürburgring actually is,” explains Alexander, quoting Rudolf Caracciola, who won the first car race on the Nürburgring and described his experience as follows:

“When we came to the newly opened Nürburgring in 1927, we opened our eyes. We had never experienced anything like it. There was a road in the middle of the Eifel mountains, a closed loop with almost 180 bends spread over 22 kilometers. It was a track with gradients that were a sharp blow to the engine, but also with unspeakably beautiful views far across the country, of valleys and villages.”

On the one hand, it is the almost 100-year history that still inspires awe and respect among motorsport enthusiasts and professional racing drivers alike: 1000-kilometer races, fatal accidents, unforgettable Formula 1 races, new records and impressive performances by the best drivers in the world. Record-breaking world champion Michael Schuhmacher made such a lasting impression that an entire corner was named after him. When Niki Lauda’s Ferrari went up in flames on the Nordschleife in 1976, the entire motorsport world held its breath.

In addition to the history, it is the track itself that accounts for the legend of the Nordschleife: the unique layout, the dynamics, the differences in altitude and the unique atmosphere. If you want to complete a lap, you have to tackle over 70 corners and 300 meters of elevation gain. An experience that demands everything from the driver and is now possible in Forza Motorsport.

In Forza Motorsport, players will discover what makes this circuit an adrenaline-filled crucible, one which pushes professionals, manufacturers, cars – and now, finally, Forza fans – to their limits. YouTuber and racing expert rAii has already put the track through its paces in countless racing games, including the new Forza Motorsport, and shared his thoughts on the presentation with Xbox Wire DACH: “It just feels like the Nordschleife that you know. That’s the most important thing.”

In comparison with its predecessors, he rates it as the best Nordschleife ever implemented in a Forza Motorsport game: “When you drive on the track, even if some things have been toned down a bit, you just feel like you’re driving on the Nordschleife. The power of the consoles allows for better visuals – not just graphically, but also physically.”

“At the end of the day, the most important thing is: do the turn-in points feel right, does the atmosphere feel right, are the height differences and crests noticeable? All of this has already been implemented very well,” explains rAii.

According to rAii, the new penalty system means that elements such as tire stacks placed in the way, which were intended to prevent unauthorized shortcuts in earlier parts of the series but at the same time reduced the realism and atmosphere, are no longer necessary. Even though the branding and a few additional spotlights have of course already resulted in a few differences, the Forza Motorsport version is still the most modern and up-to-date representation of the Nordschleife at the present time.

However, the quality of a racing game depends not only on the atmosphere and realism, but also on the fun of driving: “The whole track is awesome. It’s like a rollercoaster ride. On the Nordschleife, every lap is always fun. The Nordschleife is one of the few tracks that I could drive non-stop. Because it’s multi-faceted and because it’s long – long can also be boring, but it’s not.”

Does rAii have a favorite section? “Actually yes, the approach to the high eight and the high eight itself. I kind of like the way you position the vehicle after the carousel and then drive the whole section downhill again. I love going to the absolute limit there and getting everything out of it. Even though you can’t overtake there!”

Anyone who has installed Forza Motorsport and Update 5 can get started and enter the “Green Hell”. The only question that remains is which car to get into. rAii has a recommendation for this: “GT3 racing cars are always cool to drive. That’s probably the standard answer. But the big advantage of Forza Motorsport, even compared to other racing games, is that you can also drive road cars on it. You shouldn’t underestimate how much fun it is to use vehicles on the track that weren’t primarily built for the racetrack.

“That’s when you realize how much a track like this can challenge a vehicle. Of course, the sporty models are the most fun. Or even better, so-called racing cars with road approval, such as a Porsche 911 GT3 RS or an AMG GT Black Series. That would be my first choice, the best of both worlds!”

For Alexander Gerhard, the fascination and appeal of the track in the game is exactly the same as in real life: “You want to conquer these 73 corners and 300 meters of elevation that each lap offers. Everyone is proud when they improve by a second after completing the course, because they know that it takes an enormous effort and perfection to drive just under 21 kilometers without making a mistake and gaining a second. But there’s no such thing as the perfect lap on the Nordschleife – and that’s what makes it so fascinating.”

If you feel like venturing into the “Green Hell”, you can do so in Forza Motorsport. The game, which won Best Sports/Racing Game at the Game Awards, is available to play in Game Pass since October 10, 2023. Experience the iconic Nordschleife and the combined GP Full Circuit in Career Mode and Rivals Time Attack or create your own track days in Free Play and Private Multiplayer. For more information on Forza Motorsport and future updates, visit Forza.net and Xbox Wire.

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