StanceWorks Reviews: Forza Motorsport 7 – by Jeremy Whittle
StanceWorks Reviews: Forza Motorsport 7 – by Jeremy Whittle
It's finally here, and Forza Motorsport 7 marks the 10th Forza title released in the Forza franchise. It is, I'm happy to say, the most complete offering in the Motorsport series so far. It builds on the foundation of Motorsport 5 and 6, adding more tracks, more cars, more wheels, driver gear and the gaming industry's latest trend, loot crates. If you’ve enjoyed the previous Forza Motorsport games, the winning formula remains. Handling feels nearly identical to the previous Motorsport games, a positive in my book, as the Forza series has always done a great job of offering just enough of a simulation to be engaging, without being overly punishing. A new Homologation system replaces the previous class system, which reduces the customization you can use in racing groups, but should eliminate funky setups from dominating. For the most part, we are playing the same Forza Motorsport we have grown to love, and once you are on the track, all feels familiar.
Track wise, the entire offering from Motorsport 6 has returned, and a few new (and old) tracks have been added, with the "halo track" being a fictional circuit based in Dubai. It’s the course you have seen in most of the promotional footage, and with good reason: it’s a stunning environment, and the track is a blast to drive. You start at sea level, jumping right into a tight winding run up a hill to a hairpin, then racing back down through fast sweepers into an underground tunnel eventually returning you to the main straight. Maple Valley also makes it’s return for the first time since Motorsport 4, getting a full visual update, but remaining the same track we all know and love. All my muscle memory built up from my years of playing it on the Xbox 360 remained relevant, and I was able to jump right back into linking all my favorite corners. Suzuka and Mugello return as world famous circuits, and VIR appears now too. It would be nice to see a return of Tsukuba Circuit a personal real-life favorite of mine, or Fujimi Kaido, Turn 10s fictional creation, but there is still a lot here to enjoy.
In addition to the tracks that are new to Motorsport 7, a large amount of variety has been added to the returning tracks through Motorsport’s most advanced weather system to date. While the three offerings, Day, Night, and Wet are limited to certain tracks, they are all much more dynamic than previously offered. Night races often start at dusk, eventually fading into complete darkness, or early morning races taking you from dawn into complete daylight. While that may seem like a small change on paper, it makes the environments feel much more alive in a way I haven’t experienced in Forza previously. The improved wet weather system is the best I have experienced in a racing game, allowing you to start a race on a dry track with a mild drizzle that ramps up into a full downpour creating puddles that grow in size as the rain continues. While this is visually stunning, it also creates a completely different handling dynamic, and you will become acquainted with hydroplaning very quickly. Players not wishing for that level of challenge but still wanting to enjoy the visual glory of racing in the rain, there's a new assist available, called “Friction Assist”. This allows the physics engine to ignore puddles, and in some cases other debris in the road such as sand, and have handling remain consistent to the surface type. Certain weather types are only available for select tracks, meaning you can’t race in the wet on Dubai, or in the dark on Maple Valley, but that may change in the future.
Forza Motorsport 7 has the largest car selection in the series, launching with over 700 cars. For the first time in a Forza Motorsport game Porsche is included from launch, with the new GT2RS being the cover car. The exclusivity deal struck up by EA has finally ended, and this should be an expected standard moving forward. Life is all about give and take it would seem, as Toyota is not present in the game outside of a few select racing cars. That means no Supras, Celicas, or Corollas unfortunately, a sorely missed offering, and seemingly due to another exclusivity deal where the fans suffer. As you would imagine with over 700 cars available at launch, there is still no shortage of choice. The Turn 10 team has done a fantastic job of making sure almost every imaginable genre of both street and race car has been represented, even if only having a single offering for the particular group. There is everything from vintage open wheel cars, to our 80s IMSA favorites, to current DTM race cars, and a modern F1 car has even snuck it’s way in. Street cars are well represented, although certain new super cars are surprisingly missing, such as the Huracan Performante and Bugatti Chiron. Whether this is due to more exclusivity deals, or simply saving some form of punch for the upcoming car packs is yet to be seen. A new tier system is present to restrict which cars you can purchase initially, but getting to Tier 5, the top restrictive tier, comes quickly and offers a nice sense of initial progression.
Driver Gear is finally available too, allowing you to customize your look. The post-race screens have all been updated to allow you to show off both your driver and car, giving some more meaning to unlocking your favorite suit. The outfits are limited to certain pre-sets, meaning it’s a full look, no swapping out Helmets/Suits/Shoes independently, but there are over 300 available at launch adding another layer to the personalization available in the game. Unfortunately, this is where the game starts to sour for me. While some driver suits are awarded for accomplishments, such as beating the various championships in career mode, the vast majority are hidden away in the cancer of new AAA titles: loot crates.
While rank up rewards are still present, and it would seem quite a few cars and outfits are available with the rewards from doing so, the most prestigious Super Rare and Legendary driver gear and cars are hidden away in these loot crates, referred to as prize crates in game. I could rant for this entire article about how distasteful loot crates are, and how I hope legislation to regulate the gambling aspect of them will come soon, but I will save us both the misery. At the time of writing this article you are only able to purchase these crates with in game currency, but if the past is any indicator, soon you will be able to purchase them with your hard earned dollars as well. The drop rates for the desirable outfits are seemingly slim, and a high quality drop isn’t guaranteed. Reading online, it would seem the chance of getting Legendary gear out of these crates is somewhere below the 10% range, meaning if you are after a certain piece your odds of getting what you truly want are next to none. With the loot crates for cars it’s a little less clear as of now if any vehicles will be strictly relegated to being obtained from the crates. If this was a small thing you could do on the side, it would be less bothersome, but the game prompts you both visually and audibly to buy these prize crates, and it is an option at the main start screen for EVERY SINGLE RACE. The crates aren’t cheap either, coming in at 240,000cr for a Legendary Driver Gear crate, and 300,000cr for a Legendary Car crate. For reference the most expensive cars in the game top out at 1,500,000cr. This is a practice that belongs in free to play games on a phone, not a full $60 release on a console. VIP rewards were also nerfed with no warning from the previous Forza offerings, although it appears Turn 10 is attempting to fix that situation after a backlash from the fans, and the misleading description appearing in the Xbox store has been updated to be more clear.
That brings us to the most disappointing aspect of the game for me, not the loot crates, but the multiplayer. I wish the complaints here were as simple as not liking the game modes, or lobby systems, of which I have a few complaints, but overall that works well. The issue is that Forza 7 plays extremely well in single player, keeping a steady 60 frames in most situations, but in the multiplayer I was unable to have a single acceptable experience. Other players cars consistently lagged across the screen, making wheel to wheel racing almost impossible. More frustrating than that was the huge frame rate drops and lag experienced even when no other players were around you on the track, making it difficult to maintain a clean line or hold a drift. The obvious assumption would be some sort of networking issue on my end, but this experience was present for everyone in my lobby on multiple different nights, and when playing different games with those same people, no issues were experienced. My Xbox is hard wired to my router and I have Upload/Download speeds exceeding 100MB/s, and have no issues with any other games. I am truly stumped here and hoping Turn 10 will be able to resolve the issues we had, as it seems to be a widespread problem according to the forums. Unfortunately the issues we experienced were not limited to just frame rate drops, or lag. We also had multiple instances where players lost game audio, or their cars launched off the starting line before everyone had loaded in to the game. Cars have fallen through the map, tumbling into the empty void. Server disconnects and bootings are a somewhat common occurrence. As of now my friends and I are having a blast trying to beat each others times in the rivals events, where we can put down competing times in the silky smooth experience that is single player, but a large part of the appeal for the game was playing online - and at the moment, it's borderline unplayable in our experience, after more than a week of trying to play with friends without issue.
As of now, I would say this is a must buy for anyone who is a fan of the Forza Motorsports series, and typically found enough value out of the single player campaign, and rivals events to justify the cost of entry. The game is fantastic looking, and the car and track selection is at an all time high. The Forza handling we have grown to love is as good as ever, and the dynamic weather adds a lot of variety to your races. The loot crates are an unwelcome addition, but you can still rent every car in the game, and if you choose your mods well when racing, credits are easy to come by. The multiplayer experience needs serious work at the moment, but hopefully a patch will come soon to address the issues we had, and we will make sure to update the review should that happen. In the mean time, I’m looking forward to finishing off my single player campaign, and chasing down my friends ridiculously high drift scores.