Last September, Playground Games released arguably the best racing game so far this generation when Forza Horizon 3 launched worldwide on Xbox One and Windows 10 compatible PCs. While Turn 10 Studios assisted Playground in making the overall experience as satisfying and memorable as it could be, the question that remained afterward was if the next entry in the main Forza series could raise that bar even higher.
After spending over 30 hours in Forza Motorsport 7, I’m confident in saying that the latest entry is a great racing game that unfortunately suffers from a few missteps by Turn 10 and Microsoft. Here are more of my thoughts on why this title may or may not be right for you.
Forza Motorsport 7 is both the tenth major installment in the Forza series and the leading showcase title for Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One X console. With this in mind, Turn 10 Studios decided to condense the Stories of Motorsport concept introduced in Forza Motorsport 6 into a much more fluid single-player experience titled the Forza Driver’s Cup Challenge. This lengthy career mode allows players to participate in 6 different racing series including the Seeker Championship, Breakout Championship, Evolution Championship, Domination Championship, Masters Championship and the Forza Driver’s Cup. For the first time ever in the series, players are also able to choose the gender of their driver and unlock various driver gear outfits that can be swapped out before and after each race.
Every championship series allows players to use various types of vehicles across a set number of races and showcase events. Some of these impressive vehicles are the latest collection of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS which is also the official cover car for this year’s game. Showcase events could include anything from one-on-one races with Professional Rally Driver Ken Block to Limo Bowling objective-based activities. There are over 700 cars to collect and 32 different racing environments to explore across the entire single-player career mode.
Before starting every race, there’s a pre-race screen displayed that allows players to equip mods, buy cars, and obtain prize crates, a controversial loot system that I’ll elaborate on later. Mods are conditions that can be added to an existing race to enhance the experience and grant players additional XP for successfully competing while they are enabled. Once every race is completed, the total XP gained can be used to eventually purchase cars and driver gear. After participating in a series of races, milestone rewards are earned and the player can choose from receiving either additional credits, discounted rates on new cars or new driver gear.
When it comes to the overall core gameplay aesthetics, Forza Motorsport 7 offers the same exceptional racing experience that fans have known to love and expect from the series. Every single car handles differently and you’ll have to adjust your skills accordingly based on both the track and vehicle used at any given time. Dynamic Weather has also finally made its way into this game along with the subtle addition of arrows on both the right and left sides of your vehicle so that you remain aware of other nearby racers. These changes are definitely monumental for the series and a strong sign that gameplay will only better and better in future iterations.
As with every Forza release over the last few years, Forza Motorsport 7 looks absolutely spectacular. There’s a very specific reason why Microsoft chose to push this game as a major showcase title for their upcoming console and that will be even more apparent once everyone sees this masterpiece reach its full potential in 4k. Exotic and antique car designs, details from scratched paint jobs after collisions and diverse environments have never looked better than they do now and any true racing genre fan will appreciate this fact.
The unique sound of each car engine revving during a race is absolutely authentic and really goes a long way towards bringing every vehicle to life. The decision to also get other professional drivers involved in the project by recording their own personal experiences and advice for showcase events was a really smart move on both Turn 10 and Microsoft’s part. These moves show that they care about the quality of their titles which in turn gives fans a truly satisfying experience.
The multiplayer options in Forza Motorsport 7 are essentially the same as they have been in previous entries. Friends can participate in multiplayer hoppers, online rivals and split-screen races from the comfort of their homes. There’s also a plan in motion to implement league seasons but that particular feature isn’t available yet.
As I mentioned at the very beginning of this review, there are still a few things about Forza Motorsport 7 that I feel detract from the overall solid gameplay experience. The first issue worth mentioning lies within the highly publicized and controversial inclusion of loot boxes referred to as prize crates. While microtransactions in video games have been common practices for a while now, this particular system is discouraging because it influences a pay-to-earn mentality. Players can still choose to grind away hours on end in order to purchase the latest driver gear and new cars, but anyone who is a diehard racing genre fan may not want to spend all their time doing that when other competitive titles such as Project CARS 2 and Gran Turismo Sport are also on the market.
Furthermore, the payouts you receive in races aren’t much even on the higher difficulty setting and when purchasing a prize crate, you never really know what you are going to get. If you like to take risks, then you may be okay with the system but the alternative to grind instead can be brutal. Perhaps finding a better balance for how this system is used could have helped matters but for now, it remains a flawed practice that won’t appeal to everyone.
The other criticism I have revolves around the fact that a few notable features aren’t yet available to play including Forzathon, Auction House, and Leagues. While I understand the logic behind waiting to release this content at a later date to keep the game fresh, I still feel like some of these features absolutely should have been made available at launch to provide more gameplay experiences for fans. One could make the case that some of this stuff will be saved for the Xbox One X console launch next month, but I still see this as a misstep because it gives the impression that certain aspects of the game aren’t finished yet.
On the surface, Forza Motorsport 7 offers a fantastic racing experience if you’re willing to forget about the questionable microtransaction practices altogether. The inclusion of dynamic weather is something this series has needed for quite awhile and it truly alters how you approach each and every race. I’ll be curious to see how Turn 10 Studios improves the series from here on out and hopefully, that will mean less costly practices in the future.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Forza Motorsport 7 for the Xbox One provided by Microsoft Studios.