Forza Motorsport 7 Still the Top in Console Sim Racing
I’ve never been the target audience for sim racing. I like arcade racing but often the heavy sim racers leave me stuck in the pits. Not that I can’t make my way around a track but more so that I’m not a car guy so the deeper end of tweaking my ride always seems lost on me. Despite this, I’ve still played every entry in the Forza Motorsport franchise and always enjoyed my time with them. While I’m sure I would have seen some advantage to my results had I learned how to adjust my cars to max specs for my driving style I still managed to hold my own. Just this past week I had a chance to get my hands on Microsoft and Turn 10’s upcoming Forza Motorsport 7 for the first time and I’m happy to report it has just as much depth to confuse me as ever with a few tweaks to make it even easier for the noob drivers out there like myself.
When you’re releasing the seventh entry into a franchise you can’t do so without considering your audience’s potential burnout. If you’re delivering the same thing year after year it’s highly likely that fans may resort to the every second or third entry purchase because they don’t feel as if they’re missing much. That can’t be good for the bottom line so innovation from iteration to iteration is a must. This isn’t lost on Turn 10 as they introduce a host of new features to Forza Motorsport 7. While I’ll be leaving the full breakdown to our final review when the game releases on Oct 3 I’ll touch on a few small things I noticed in my short time with the game so far.
First and foremost it can’t be undersold how good the game looks running in 4K with HDR on an Xbox One X. Microsoft knows they have their work cut out for them convincing gamers to pick up a $500 premium console. They likely also know that they really need to focus on great exclusives to make that happen. It’s not news to gaming fans that MS has been pulling up the rear in that department this year either, but if there was ever a game to highlight what’s possible in 4K gaming then Forza 7 is a good place to start. Stitching from your dashboard reflecting off the windshield in the glaring sun, light bouncing off puddles as you race through the rain in the darkness, sand blowing across the track in the stifling deserts of Dubai. I could go on and on but the “tl;dr” version is that the game is simply stunning in action.
For those of you who are less ‘ability inclined’ which is a nice way to say you suck at driving there are a number of assists that you can use to get adjusted to the game. One such assist I was using (and I was unaware at the time) had literally everything being done for me. I could keep the throttle on and the car would self-brake on corners and almost completely follow the race line so long as I didn’t fiddle around with the controller too much. Seeing as I didn’t realize the assists were so strong I DID FIDDLE AROUND WITH THE CONTROLLER and the end result was a disastrous 15th place finish. Once those assists were removed I fared much better but knowing that I could hand the controller to my kid who desperately wants to ‘play the big kid games’ like his Dad is a welcome addition. Other assists, like traction control that treats every surface as if it’s the same, allow people who cut corners CRAZY tight like me to race the way they feel most comfortable with. While this all might sound like heresy to the hardcore sim racer it’s smart of Turn 10 to open the Forza series to even the most novice of players who could be playing the series for the very first time. The key takeaway here, of course, is that it looks as if Forza Motorsport 7 offers the widest range of tweaking, from beginners to veterans, ever making the series more accessible than we’ve seen so far.
Another focus has been made on incorporating light RPG-style progression into the game such as collecting outfits and helmets for your racer. Dubbed ‘Driver Gear’ you can collect and unlock hundreds upon hundreds of options to make your racer as unique as you are. Ok, that’s an exaggeration but the point remains the same that between the gear and the over 700 cars to collect, that Forza Motorsport 7 should keep you busy for a long, long time. Collecting cars is a must as purchasing higher-end vehicles requires you to increase your collector tier. Essentially, the more cars you acquire the more cars will be open to you to purchase. It adds a sort of chase feature to the game that while I didn’t get to explore much seems like it would keep many fans locked into that ‘just one more race’ attitude.
The fact remains that a game like Forza Motorsport 7 has an enormous amount of depth to it and isn’t something you can get a strong handle on in a 30 to 40-minute session. I barely scraped the surface of the intro let alone the game itself but still walked away hopeful for the full release. It’s safe to say that Forza 7 is the pinnacle of the series in terms of graphics and is openly accessible like never before which can only be considered a good thing. Keep an eye out for our final review of the game when it releases very likely covered by one of our team members far better versed in racing sims than I.