It has been six years since Turn 10 Studios brought us a Forza Motorsport title and we’ve been waiting patiently for this title since it was revealed in 2020.
Given the gap between releases and the fact that this release serves as a soft reboot of the franchise, we’re going into this title with fresh eyes. We feel this is important because Turn 10 has rebuilt this game while still focusing on the core of what makes the Forza brand so great.
As a reminder, Motorsport is suited more for fans of sim racing while Horizons is more of an arcade racing game. With that in mind, is Forza Motorsport worthwhile for sim racing fans?
Forza Motorsport plants you directly in the driver seat when you first boot up the game giving you a few races to get your eye in. We’re not fans of this and we wish Forza, nay, all racing games would stop pushing you directly into a race before being able to get to grips with the controls, the graphic and performance settings and other aspects of the game.
That gripe aside, Forza gives newcomers a decent taste of what’s come and where you could find yourself after achieving a few podiums.
The focus of our review was the Builder’s Cup series which serves as the career mode here. Starting with a hot hatchback, you will need to upgrade and build your car up in order to chase the pack and get to the front.
While a podium finish is the goal here, Turn 10 forces players to watch their driving on track with Car Experience Points or CXP. Throughout every race, you will earn CXP for things like nailing a certain sector perfectly, overtaking cars, and more. The rate at which you earn CXP is rather steady and you can easily upgrade your preferred racing car within a few races. You also earn CXP by simply completing laps in Quick Play.
CXP is vital to the progression in Forza Motorsport as you will be using it to buy upgrades and unlock parts to improve your vehicle’s performance.
This is great as it means that even if you build up CXP slowly, you can level up your car and unlock upgrades that ultimately help you win races. To our mind it feels like Elden Ring in that, if your car isn’t finding the grip out of the corner or you’re lagging on the start line, you have a way to level-up your car. While we have cringed many times at Turn 10 referring to this as a “CarPG” we have to admit, that description makes sense given the way you can take a car from a Weekend Cup to a headline event.
This could however, be Forza’s downfall as sticking with one car and leveling up, by definition, means ignoring other cars. There are ways to test cars out but upgrading them and getting them to their peak is going to be a slog. That may be fine for some but we really just want to race our friends in a game that gives us that feeling of really being behind the wheel of a multi-million Rand car.
Thankfully levelling up is as easy as driving the car so progression feels fluid, even if there are 500 cars to level up.
When it comes to vehicles, Turn 10 has too many to mention, 500 vehicles in total at launch to be precise. You’ll find the regular suspects such as Ferrari, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen. You’ll also find vehicles from high-performance heavyweights including McLaren, Pagani, Bugatti and Koenigsegg. We would’ve loved to see a few more open-wheeled racing cars but that’s just us.
One of our favourite aspects of this game and its vehicles is how different one model feels compared to another. Something as simple as gear shifts feels different in a hot hatch and a hypercar. Also, by simply upgrading a car you can change the feel of it completely.
We would’ve loved to see a bit more variety when it came to the tracks in the game.
At launch, there will only be 20 tracks available to race on and these include:
- Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya,
- Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps,
- Eaglerock Speedway,
- Grand Oak Raceway,
- Hakone Circuit,
- Homestead-Miami Speedway,
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway,
- Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit,
- Le Mans – Circuit International de la Sarthe,
- Lime Rock Park,
- Maple Valley,
- Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course,
- Mugello Circuit,
- Nürburgring GP,
- Road America,
- Silverstone Circuit,
- Suzuka Circuit,
- Virginia International Raceway,
- Watkins Glen International Speedway,
- WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
For now, Turn 10 has only announced that the 20.83km Nordschleife will arrive next year.
While many of the tracks have variations including short versions, after a while one does get sick of racing around the same 20 circuits. That’s not to say that the tracks aren’t well-made. The visuals are stunning and night racing and racing in the wet help to make things feel a lot more varied.
However, we feel like players coming from Forza Horizons are going to miss the variety on offer in those titles especially given how many times you have to race on each track for an event. Hopefully, Turn 10 is working to bring more tracks to Forza Motorsport in addition to the Nordschleife.
A skill problem?
Something that we feel Turn 10 needs to be praised for is the variable difficulty on offer here. Generally speaking, sim-racing games can be incredibly challenging and that tends to deter folks from giving them a shot. Forza Motorsport can be as easy or as tough as you like it.
Sure, racing at higher difficulties can earn you more funds and CXP allowing you to progress through the Builders Cup more rapidly but the game is just as enjoyable, if not more so when the difficulty is pegged lower.
Once you feel more confident, you can also increase the skill level of the AI that you will be racing against. This leads to the bot racers braking later, defending more aggressively and even brake testing you as you make a run down into Au Rouge and then Radillion at Spa-Francorchamps.
From there you can customise your difficulty to include traction control, brake assistance and removing on-screen racing lines.
Racing in the rain or at night can add a bit of variety though not much and we wouldn’t say the conditions on track change it all that much. You’re still going down the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca or speeding around 130R in Suzuka, only slightly slower if you’re in the wet.
A word on performance and multiplayer
We reviewed Forza Motorsport on a very mid-range PC (Ryzen 5 3600, Radeon RX 5600 XT, 16GB RAM, SSD), and despite things not looking as sharp as we’d like, performance while on track and racing is fantastic.
There were one or two crashes, but we’re putting these down to the fact that we played a preview of the game. We’re told a Day One patch which was released on Tuesday evening would address some of the issues players might encounter but we’ll give our full rundown of performance post-launch.
We’re also holding off on talking about the multiplayer section of the game as multiplayer sessions during the review period were limited and we’ve been battling loadshedding. Besides, we want to race against the Normans who think other cars are there to prevent them from going off track.
After a long wait for another Forza Motorsport and after washing away my nostalgia goggles, it’s hard to recommend this game. It’s good, make no mistake, there is a lot to be impressed with in this game but does it scratch that sim-racing itch? Not for me.
What Forza Motorsport does well is give newcomers to sim-racing games a wonderful introduction. The career mode is a nice touch and reminds us an awful lot of the Gran Turismo games which is neither good nor bad.
However, when it comes to racing, the reason sim-racing games exist in the first place, there are a lot of limitations placed on players such as the need to purchase cars with credits you earn in-game. Just let me pick any car to race with Turn 10, I don’t want to have to go through the process of leveling up 500 cars just to be able to test how they perform around Kyalami.
The good news is that if you have Xbox Game Pass or PC Game Pass, you can enjoy Forza Motorsport for less than paying for the game outright. That is how we would recommend you try Forza Motorsport, especially if you’re either new to sim-racing or a veteran.
While Forza Motorsport is great, we don’t foresee it competing with the likes of iRacing or even Assetto Corsa when it comes to sim-racing. As a soft reboot though, this is a good start and we look forward to the next iteration of the game. Just maybe give us a few more tracks Turn 10.
FINAL SCORE: 8 OUT OF 10.
Full disclosure: Hypertext was granted a preview of Forza Motorsport by the publisher ahead of release for the purposes of conducting a review.