Every few years there comes a racing game that evolves the genre for the greater whole. This past year, I’d argue that we’ve gotten four such racing games. Almost one year ago, Forza Horizon 3 launched to critical acclaim, showing its audience just how fun a racing simulator game can be when you take it to the Outback of Australia and let the players construct their own tournaments. F1 2017 turned the realism dial up to eleven for the most authentic feel of any racing game I’ve played up until then, truly showcasing the power and precision behind the Formula 1 racing series and its unique vehicles. Project Cars 2 is a track-focused racing simulator that leaves no racing series untouched, as it offers Rally racing, Formula series, Nascar, GT, Grand Prix, and everything in-between bridging the gap between all the different series regardless of the type of car. And last, but certainly not least, we have Turn 10 Studio’s newest entry into their Motorsports franchise: Forza Motorsports 7. Arguably the king of racing simulation, Forza 7 takes aspects not just from its previous iterations but also borrows ideas from these other racing games and much for the better. Here’s our Forza Motorsports 7 review.
In this newest Forza, the main campaign has changed to now racing your way through the different series culminating in the new Forza Driver’s Cup. I like this new approach in Forza’s fictional racing tournament, and the journey to get to the top kept me engaged throughout the experience. There are five cups you must earn before you’re allowed to challenge the Forza cup, however. And each cup has a diverse range of racing series you must overcome and earn points in to win the cup. As I progressed, each new cup required more and more of these points to claim victory. These series are as eclectic as the cars you can collect, with some series limiting you to SUV models only and others being exclusive to Formula model vehicles only. And the weather is just as dynamic as the eclecticism of the cars, with over 16 weather variations threatening to overtake the circuit and drastically affect how races unfold.
This dynamism is one of the new features in Forza 7, with weather no longer being either on or off but rather by seeping gradually into the race. And the way that rain pooled on the pavement seemed as realistic as if I was there in real life, with banks nearly flooding that kept me from getting too close to the apex lest my car hydroplane out of control and cost me the top pole position. But Forza is all about the cars – all cars – and it left no series untouched through my climb to the top. And with over 700 vehicles to collect, you definitely won’t be without options. Though it’s a shame that my favorite car manufacturer wasn’t present; Toyota is notedly exempt from the roster of manufacturer model vehicles, though they do appear as some of the higher tiered race cars. Lexus and Tesla likewise are absent. And not just in Forza but it seems as if all the major racing games this year do not have these manufacturers’ model cars in their lineups. This was heartbreaking to me as I oft dream of nothing else other than hopping into an old 1986 Toyota Corolla and painting it in resplendent Initial D iconography. But with the sheer number of other vehicles in the game, I’m almost too distracted to notice this minor detail – I’m simply having too much fun trying out all the cars I unlock!
Speaking of unlocking, there is a new tiered out system for cars in Forza 7. There are five different tiers of vehicles starting from the very basic of the basic manufacturer models and getting up to the elite of the elite designed race cars – including Toyota! Initially, I only had access to the first tier but after winning a few races or increasing my driver’s level and adding a few cars to my garage I earned access to the next level of automobiles. Increasing my Car rank additionally increases the rewards I get each time my driver level goes up. When you level up, you choose between either getting cosmetic racing outfits, a discount on a select automobile, or just cold-hard Credits to use towards whatever you’d like. The only other way to earn credits is, obviously, by racing! Spend your hard-won credits tuning up your ride, buying new rides, or gambling on Forza 7’s newest addition to the racing genre: Crates!
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Yes, loot boxes have snuck their way into even the racing scene but, unlike other games, you can’t actually buy these with real-world money. You can only spend in-game credits on these crates. These crates come in different varieties and rarities, with a chance for cosmetic gear, cars, or mods. Originally introduced in Forza Motorsports 6, Mods make a returning appearance in Forza 7. Again with the changes, Turn 10 has opted to utilize mods in an attempt to replace another well-established feature in the Motorsports which is the driving assistance incentives. In past games, the more driving assists you turned off increased the credit payout you got at the end of a race. Now instead, you get the exact same payout for a race regardless of if you had all driving assists turned on, or turned off for the ultimate in simulation experiences. What does affect payouts are mods, which can give you a certain percentage boost, and the difficulty level of the opponent’s drivatars.
Occasionally as I progressed, the game would insist that I turned up the difficulty; I guess it didn’t like me destroying my competition and leaving them in the dust on each and every circuit. Finding the right difficulty setting for you, as well as adjusting the assists to give you enough control over your vehicle to feel like you’re actually in control, will be imperative to your enjoyment of Forza 7 and I recommend you establish those settings earlier rather than later.
As yet another change from previous games in the series, those who have purchased the VIP pass to earn extra rewards will be disappointed to learn that Turn 10 studios has altered the way VIP members earn rewards. No longer is everything doubled, instead you are given 5 mods with 5 uses each that give 100% payout bonuses. This has caused major contention amongst fans who are used to the previous way of things. Good news though, as Turn 10 has come out to say that they will reverse this new change to how VIP passes work, as well as give out 1,000,000 credits to early-adopters. I understand and appreciate the need for change, but I’m more grateful that Turn 10 has been listening to its fans and will rectify an issue instead of remaining silent on the matter.
There’s even more content on its way to Forza 7 in the form of competitive Leagues, Forzathon community events, and the player-run Auction House. We still don’t know when these features will be turned on, however. But for now, the amount of content in Forza Motorsports 7 is staggering even without these modes. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment racing in the cups, vying for top pole positions, and unlocking more cars for my garage. The changes in Forza 7 sees the whole genre, not just the Forza Motorsports franchise, move forward into a new direction. Some changes didn’t work out, such as the changes to its DLC plans like the VIP pass; but it’s refreshing to see Turn 10 try new things and push the envelope on their games rather than be content with it remaining static. This is the best Forza Motorsports game yet and, dare I say, the best racing game all year. From the gorgeous graphics, dynamic weather, and largest roster of cars to date; this is the ultimate in racing simulation and I can’t wait to experience this game on the upcoming Xbox One X to see it all in glorious 4K.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Xbox One with a code provided by PR.