Forza 7 is the latest in Microsoft and Turn 10’s series that encapsulates man’s obsession with speed. From horses to hypersonic rockets, humanity has always craved to go ever faster, but the most popular outlet for that desire these days is the racetrack. The car is the expression of man’s ability to harness nature and chemistry to gain freedom of movement, and vast segments of Western society are built around the construction, maintenance, and adoration of the automobile.
While there are games out there that perform the “simulation” part of “racing sim” better, Forza 7 strikes a happy medium between arcade racers like Crusin’ USA and hardcore sims like Assetto Corsa and Project CARS 2. I played with braking, stability, and steering assist off, and realistic gas use and tire wear. However, the beauty of Forza is that it’s ultimately approachable. You can modify the difficulty settings to where the cars drive anywhere from a 50cc Mario Kart up to where it’s almost impossible to play without the precision of a race wheel and pedals.
Each of the more than 700 cars has its quirks and sweet spots. I used a ‘08 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR quite a bit because I happen to own a non-Evo’ 08 Lancer and it gave me a good point from which to compare reality with Turn 10’s version of the car.
I was impressed.
The interiors of each car are meticulously modeled. The Lancer in-game is a Japanese model, so it has a right-hand driving arrangement, but other than that it was astonishingly accurate to the interior of the car I own in real life, down to the Rockford Fosgate badging above the Mitsubishi Multimedia Communication System screen and the 10-inch subwoofer in the trunk. Even the little notification center between the speedometer and RPM gauges worked as it does in real-life.
The outside of the car is where things start to break down a bit. Your car always looks good, and there’s a fair amount of cosmetic customization options available. You can change the colour of your vehicle to a selection of off-the-line options (although I was a bit disappointed that my Lancer’s Graphite Grey Pearl color option was absent from the choice of manufacturer colors), custom colours, and wilder choices like camo and pearlescent.
Once you get your base coat down, you can add vinyls. You can make your car look like a real race car or create a monstrosity. There are an enormous amount of pre-made and community-crafted vinyls and you can make your own, so the only limit is really just your patience and imagination.
When racing though, things get a little drab. On the Xbox One, there are a lot of muddled textures and details popping in and out as the dynamic graphics systems do their job to keep the game running at the 60fps target rate. The PC version played a lot better, and I was able to play at 4K with dynamic options disabled on Ultra while still getting a pretty consistent 60fps. I assume the Xbox One X will have graphics more on par with the PC when it releases, and the 90GB download seems to indicate there are a lot more detailed textures hiding on the Xbox One version of the game.
While your car always shines, there is a major issue with the presentation of your competition during the game that bothered me more and more as I played. It seems like without fail, unless you’re engaging in some special showcase, all your opponents drive drably-coloured cars with no liveries. It took me out of the moment sometimes (especially while driving the festive Waifumobile) since racing is known for its badging, car numbers, and sponsorships. I’m not sure if this is a glitch that will be rectified on full release, but it irritated me to no end.
Another area where Forza Motorsport 7 falls behind at times is the game progression. The primary objective of the single-player mode is to make it through a series of six championships and eventually win the Forza Cup. Each championship consists of a number of races, each with their own twist, and a few showcases, where you’ll need to use a particular vehicle to perform a certain task.
Unlike previous games, which weren’t too stingy with giving you more cars and cash, if you’re too loose with your money in Forza 7, you might find yourself having to grind. For example, if you’re close to getting enough points to complete a championship, but the only event left requires a Class B Rally Car and you don’t have the cash to buy it, you’ll have to return to previous events to earn the credits to get one.
Grinding a little bit is an inevitability in a lot of games but in Forza 7 cash flow ties into the game’s loot box system. The loot boxes, called “Prize Crates” in-game, can contain mods, one-to-multiple use items which give you credit and XP boosts for completing certain tasks during a race, new race suits, or cars. Right now they can only be bought with in-game credits, the same credits you have to use to buy new cars outright. However, according to ArsTechnica, there are plans to implement the same CR Token premium currency that has been a part of the series since Forza 4.
Since Turn 10’s premium currency plans aren’t finalized and weren’t implemented in the game at the time of review, I’ll only tackle the Prize Crates from how they exist in-game as of release. You’re obviously encouraged to purchase the boxes, especially since mods that boost your ability to earn XP and credits aren’t readily available any other way.
Additionally, the VIP Pass no longer gives you permanent CR bonus. Instead, you get 25 uses of VIP mod cards. Racing without using driving assists no longer helps you accrue extra cash, so the only way to increase your money-making potential is through the Prize Crates.
The real bummer is that this whole system usually nets you negative credits in the end. Prize Crates cost up to 300,000 CR for a “Chance for a legendary car! Car, Driver Gear, Mods, and Badges guaranteed,” and 20,000 CR on the low end for a package of four mods. When you start off the game making around 10-20,000 CR a race though, without a steep incline into higher earnings as you continue through the championships, it’s too risky to throw away money it took you hours to win just for a chance at an item or a car you hoped to get.
Sure, you can sell mods to get a bit of cash back, but you won’t come close to recouping your investment. An upcoming Auction House feature will likely let you sell your unwanted vehicles to players online, but as of right now you can’t even make credits back if you buy a crate and get a car you don’t want.
If you’re not a completionist, the progression system—which also includes another blocker in the form having to collect cars to unlock the ability to buy more cars—probably won’t be too much of a worry. As long as you are thrifty and wait until you unlock car level five and complete the Forza Cup before you start going crazy with buying vehicles, you likely won’t be too upset. However, if you’re the kind of player who wants to own every one of the 700+ cars and every set of Driver’s Gear, you’re going to be infuriated by the timesink to afford it all. Most annoying is the random factor the Prize Crates add to whether or not you’ll get the vehicles and items you want.
Even with the restrictions to progression system adds to the game though, the gameplay is good enough that most race fans won’t be bothered that they have to play harder and longer to get what they desire. When you’re on the track, it’s not a big deal that you have to drive the same car a little longer to get the next one. As much as the loot crate system disillusioned me, the sun casting shadows on the dashboard of my Evo as I went all out down a straightaway mesmerized me. Regardless of anything else Forza 7 brings to the table, at its core it’s never been a better experience. This is a game that will bring you back over and over for just one more lap.