Forza Motorsport Hands-On Preview
Forza Motorsport is arriving in just under one month and over the past week I’ve had the opportunity to go hands-on with the latest Xbox Series X build. If you’ve been longing for a new racing game on your Xbox that fully embraces what the Series X is capable of, then this might just be the game you’ve been waiting for!
The Forza franchise has been taking laps around our living rooms for almost 20 years now. While the Forza Horizon franchise has been about adventure with a more arcade-like feel, the Forza Motorsport franchise has been more about the core racing experience with a stricter, more simulated feel. Forza Motorsport is designed to be as authentic to motorsport racing as possible. If you grew up with a PlayStation in the house, think Gran Turismo. This iteration is the franchise’s 8th entry. However, the developers didn’t want folks to be intimidated by which entry it was, so they opted to simplify the naming convention and just calling it Forza Motorsport. If you’re new to the franchise, or Forza veteran, Forza Motorsport can be tailored to your experience.
Forza Motorsport is all about creating a unique relationship between you (the driver), the car, and the race track. Each track is divided into various segments, and you are constantly challenged to improve the way you navigate through each of these segments. When to brake, when to accelerate, what angle you’ll approach a turn, when it’s ideal to overtake an opponent. It’s all there. And as you complete these segments and improve your skills, your car will level-up. Internally, the developers have affectionately labelled this aspect as a CarPG (get it… RPG with a car), and it’s an accurate assessment.
Leveling up your car, as well as earning credits from winning races, will give you the ability to upgrade your cars. While previous Forza games were heavily focused on expanding your car collection, Forza Motorsport is more about taking the cars you have and bringing out the best in them. That’s not to say there aren’t a vast assortment of cars to add to your collection, because there really is. There is just a slight shift in focus.
One of the ways Forza Motorsport has stood out is the sheer amount of driving assists a gamer can employ. These assists range from driving lines, brake assists, steering assists and more. Many of these features have been in Forza games before. However, what is new is the ability to essentially control the game with only one input if needed. If you simply want to steer – so be it. If you just want to control the gas pedal – that’s fine too. This system is designed to ensure there are as few barriers between Forza Motorsport and the gamer.
Let’s Get Physic(al)
Forza Motorsport has received some substantial improvements in the physics department since previous iterations. One example that the developers mentioned is the way the cars’ tires adhere to the surface. In previous games, the tires had one point of contact between the car and the track. In Forza Motorsport, that number has grown to eight. This creates a more refined level of realism that has never been experienced in a Forza game before. Of course, that’s only one example and there are many more.
Of course, what would a racing game be without a plethora of tracks to race? And Forza Motorsport has no shortage in that department. In total, there are 20 tracks to learn. 15 of the tracks are returning from previous Forza Motorsport games, however they have been completely rebuilt. And there are 5 brand new tracks that have never appeared in a Forza Motorsport game before. Every track includes day/night cycles and various weather conditions. I’m thrilled that they will have the Indianapolis Motor Speedway return, as that’s a personal favourite of mine. What’s more, in Spring 2024, the devs intend to expand the track list to include the massive 12.9-mile (20.83 km) Nordschleife track.
She Handles Like a Beaut
So, with all this said, how does it feel actually playing it? Well… in a word; challenging. But not in a bad way! Even some of the most experienced Forza Motorsport veterans will need to endure a bit of a learning curve, as they get a feel for the rebuilt tracks, updated physics, and new cars. You’ll be racing the same track over-and-over, attempting to improve your times on every twist and turn. You’ll want to master each segment while you level up your car. Tuning your car will become a sort of game on its own – but fear not, if you’re not very mechanically inclined, like myself, you can let the game upgrade your car automatically. Forza Motorsport isn’t easy, but you’ll be rewarded for sticking with it and putting in the time.
Forza Motorsport is shaping up to be one heck of a simulation racing game. With beautiful visuals, improved physics, and a heavy focus on making each car your own, there is a ton to offer. If you’re looking for even more coverage, we previously shared our impressions of this upcoming racer back when we had a hands-off demonstration at the Xbox Games Showcase, so be sure to check that out too. Forza Motorsport launches on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PC on October 10, 2023.
***Forza Motorsport preview key was provided by the publisher. ***