For the first time in over six years, Team 10 is bringing Forza Motorsport back into the fold with a complete overhaul on October 10th. Lucky for me, CGMagazine was invited to one of the first hands-on previews of the racing simulator at the Microsoft Experience Center in New York. After I stopped exploring all the Xbox history on display, I sat down to dive into Forza Motorsport’s Builder’s Cup Career Mode.
The preview build I got my hands on focused on three races: Mugello, Kyalami and Grand Oak. I was able to choose one of three cars: the 2019 Subaru STI S209, the 2018 Honda Civic Type R, and the 2018 Ford Mustang GT. I know these aren’t exactly the cars you intend to take on when you dive into a racing sim, but Forza Motorsport General Manager Dan Greenwalt chatted with us a bit beforehand to explain that Motorsport intends to teach players to “go slow to go fast.”
This means getting your hands on serviceable vehicles in Forza Motorsport—learning and levelling them from the ground up. Builder’s Cup Career Mode will help you do just that. This is a single-player experience that features over 800 performance upgrades that you unlock as you play and level up.
Everything you do in Forza Motorsport helps to level you and your car. From practice runs to multiplayer, you’re always earning XP (CXP is Car XP). Every time you complete a segment of the race, passing other racers, there is always a way to earn more experience. In the short time I played, I saw my car level up several times, and after each race, I unlocked new car parts specific to the car I chose to race with, the Mustang, of course.
I started off my preview, warning everyone around that though I’ve been playing different varieties of racing games since I was a child, I’m still a terrible racer. Greenwalt stopped me, though, and told me not to be surprised if I had a different experience with Forza Motorsport, and he was absolutely right.
At first, it was rocky. I hit walls, went off track, spun around—though I did NOT roll my car! Each race has a practice round, and though I originally found them tedious, I realized that it really benefitted my race in the long run. My practice runs would be awful, barely making the goal lap time, but once I got out there to compete, I’d greatly improved.
It wasn’t just the practice runs that helped, though. As I went to the second and third races in Forza Motorsport’s Builder’s Cup, I was finding myself more in tune with my car. Part of that was from learning how it handles, as well as levelling up. Finishing in nearly last place in my first race to first place in my third is a testament to the tutorial process.
As you go through this process, you’ll be able to set up your difficulty and accessibility options. Forza Motorsport leaves no shortage of options when it comes to assistance and accessibility. I gave a quick glance while I was definitely turning on some assists for myself and saw that Forza Motorsport includes options like blind driving assist, low vision, subtitles, text-based communication and plenty more.
“Forza Motorsport leaves no shortage of options when it comes to assistance and accessibility.”
These options carry over to multiplayer as well. I asked Creative Director for Forza Motorsport Chris Esaki about using these assists and other options during multiplayer and if the team considered that it would give players an advantage,
“I think everyone has an innate skill cap for different things in life, all sorts of different things in life and driving and racing. The fastest drivers there are always going to be faster than slower drivers regardless of the amount of accessibility or approachability features that are in there”
He went on to explain why, “Online, you can just turn on whatever accessibility or approachability features that you want and unlock your fastest self to help you get to your skill cap, wherever that is. It doesn’t mean that it artificially raises your skill cap. It just helps you be the fastest driver that you can be.”
Forza Motorsport is still taking the “CaRPG” genre seriously, but it is allowing players who are normally alienated from this type of game to dive in and play at their own pace with options that work for them. It felt extremely welcoming as a newcomer, but once I looked into the settings, the number of things you can tinker with in Forza Motorsport is outstanding. Racing sim enthusiasts will have no shortage of things to do, and Forza Motorsport will definitely provide a challenge.
During the race, there is a rewind feature (which I didn’t use for my first-place win!). Here, you can choose to rewind for any number of reasons. It will move back a set amount of time, and you can choose to continue from there or rewind further. Forza Motorsport is all about learning and mastering your car and the tracks, and this feature will let you re-do any moments to perfect them as you see fit.
“…the number of things you can tinker with in Forza Motorsport is outstanding.”
The controls in Forza Motorsport are pretty self-explanatory. If you’ve played any number of racing sims before, you’ll be used to your gas and steering. What threw me personally was not using the right stick to hand the camera view, as you would in an RPG. This moves the view to the side or rear of the car and would efficiently mess me up each time, though racing sim veterans will be used to this. Your bumper also moves the camera angle, and I was genuinely surprised with how many different options there were.
Forza Motorsport is very clearly beautiful to look at. Bringing a franchise that began in 2005 to the latest generation of consoles is a huge undertaking, and it seems to have really paid off visually for Forza Motorsport. Something I didn’t expect to be wowed by is the audio as well. Watching cutscenes and even during racing, it felt like a cinematic experience.
Esaki explained a bit about what went into bringing Forza Motorsport to the latest gen Xbox Series X|S and PC in 2023,
“We completely remastered every piece of audio, every tire squeal, every blow-off valve sound, every supercharger. Everything is completely remastered, and we have a really advanced convolution reverb system that we’ve basically modelled how sound reverbs through every area of every piece of geometry in the tracks.
He went on to discuss how it has changed visually as well and why the choice to stick with 60FPS:
“And then, of course, all of the crazy amounts of investments in both the AI and the physics. It’s all there. It’s it’s the most advanced and best feeling driving we’ve ever had. That being said, we do want to ensure that we have the gamut of PCs. We have the gamut of Series S and X. We want to make sure that 60 frames a second allows an equal playing field for everyone for the best level of equal competition. And that’s really just where we’re at right now.”
In terms of visuals, though Forza Motorsport really is beautiful, both in gameplay and cinematics, it does still have a bit of that arcade touch that you might find in something like Forza Horizon. The feel of the cars and the sounds of the engines roaring and tires screeching is outstanding, but I think fans of something like Gran Turismo will find that Forza Motorsport doesn’t look quite as realistic. However, I think it is a perfect visual style for the franchise, and I personally love that it stays in tune with the other games in their roster.
Team 10 is bringing over 500 cars to Forza Motorsport and an incredible number of tracks to the game. Though they haven’t released the full list yet, there are plenty to master, like Le Mans, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and Nürburgring GP. After speaking with Team 10, Forza Motorsport will have a major focus on community, and the team plans to continue content updates as long as possible, ideally even into the next generation of consoles.
Forza Motorsport is shaping up to be a racing simulator worthy of the CaRPG title, one that many racing enthusiasts should make sure to get their hands on. Luckily, the game is releasing on October 10th for PC and Xbox Series X|S with day one Game Pass access for anyone who isn’t sure just yet.