“Technically Forza Motorsport is unmatched” | One of the pillars of Xbox is finally back on the road after an absence of more than five years. Turn 10 has completely reworked Forza, from A to Z. Yet it’s still the familiar quality we were used to on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Forza Horizon, partly appealing to more gamers due to its casual gameplay, has surpassed Forza Motorsport as a franchise in popularity and has also given us the best racing game in recent years. A lot has changed for Xbox since Forza 7 was released in 2017. Developer Playground reached more than 30 million players with Forza Horizon 5. Before I continue, let that number slip in.. Thirty million! That’s more than all Forza Motorsport games have sold, combined.
Whether you will like Forza Horizon 5 or Forza Motorsport depends entirely on your racing tastes. Motorsport is a true simulation on closed race tracks, either way, both games are an amazing feat. I like Forza Horizon’s gameplay better but technically Forza Motorsport is unmatched in the audiovisual department. I listed out the key changes between the two giant racing franchises, I can imagine many Game Pass subscribers never touched a Forza Motorsport game yet.
Key differences between Forza Horizon and Forza Motorsport
- Forza Motorsport has closed-circuit racing, Forza Horizon has a large open world.
- Car handling in Forza Motorsport is far more realistic, Forza Horizon is more arcade.
- Forza Horizon is for the casual audience, read everyone. Forza Motorsport is a more niche audience.
- Forza Motorsport was first and created by Turn 10. Forza Horizon is created by Playground, to reach a bigger audience.
- While driving in Forza Horizon you have licensed music. Forza Motorsport only has car engine sounds while driving.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on X!
|Publisher||Xbox Game Studios|
“You take the blue car… the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red car… you stay and play forza for hours”
Things I liked!
- Laguna Seca | I want to use one specific track for a personal note, Laguna Seca. Officially I should mention it as WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca but just like with sponsored sports venues, nobody does that, right? Anyway, Laguna Seca is a track that I can use to look back at my gaming history regarding the racing genre. It all started with Gran Turismo 2 and now we’re playing the track in Forza Motorsport. We have come a long way since 1999 with tracks where you no longer see that they are a video game. I still remember trying to learn how to take Laguna Seca’s famous corkscrew without crashing or slowing down as an ice cream truck. Crazy to think back, nowadays I take this memorable turn perfectly. Not only my racing skills have improved but throughout the years Laguna Seca was always one of my first tracks to play to see the improved visuals and physics. Let me tell you that Forza Motorsport has the best version of the track that I ever played!
- Graphical leap | It was a habit for me to think that the Forza Motorsport games were always one of the best technical experiences of the year. With this new racing title, Turn 10 has shown again that they are technical wizards. It leaves the competition several meters behind. All the more impressive is the raytracing, without a doubt in my mind the most impressive thing I’ve seen Series X do. Combined with a day and night cycle, realistic weather conditions and as many as 24 cars on the track. In all honesty, when you are driving at 150 per hour in a rainstorm and you can see all the reflections in other cars and the water puddles…. how Turn 10 managed is beyond me. Star of the show is the lighting engine. This goes far beyond some sun glare. We’ve seen that in every racing game by now, although Forza Motorsport does it tremendously well. The shadows on the track and especially in the car are rendered realistically according to the light source. So if there are cars behind you, you will notice that in the cockpit view. Not just notice… It is true to life! My mouth dropped open several times, especially during night races. All of this is most noticeable at the Hakone circuit track. Where there are super beautiful cherry trees along the way. The textures of everything is razor sharp and hardly any pop-up is noticeable. All this in a smooth 60fps, crazy! The cars are also excellently recreated, including the inside! With many different materials and attention to detail. Forzavista is back under a different name, Car Theater. Here you can admire every little detail of 500+ cars. Two less positive things can be said about the visuals. First, there are some cars that seem to have skipped the treatment of Xbox Series X|S polish. Coming straight out of Forza Motorsport 7, those are good looking too but lack the high details of most other cars. Secondly, it is a shame that they didn’t use Forza Horizon’s photorealistic skies. There are some moments when the clouds look a bit weird in Forza Motorsport.
- In-game ref | At one point I felt like a football player knowing he would receive a red card when the VAR intervened. Completely new in Forza Motorsport is a penalty system for cutting corners or aggressive driving behaviours. In both multiplayer and the single-player modes you have an in-game ref that keeps an eye on you. The penalty system works perfectly, so there is no need to be afraid of someone messing up your S Safety Rating. Having the option to FINALLY avoid dirty racers online is a blessing.
- A love for audio | No soundtrack while driving gives all the room to the engines and rubber on the tracks. The audio in Forza Motorsport is phenomenal. Environmental sound is vastly superior compared to Gran Turismo, The Crew Motorfest or any other racing game that was released on consoles in the past years. Each camera angle sounds different and each car engine and traction sounds realistically different.
- Turn 10 created a racing RPG | Cars receive car points depending on how you perform in Forza Motorsport. You’ll be individually levelling up cars with your driving style. The maximum level is 50 but it takes a lot of hours before you’ll reach that. Upgrading cars is important though and for example, engine changes are locked in the high 40 levels. It kind of makes sense for me, as the more you drive a car the better you control it. It requires time and commitment from players and there is no shortcut with microtransactions. With those car points, you can tune your car to your liking and add and change parts to increase car performance.
- Car handling | Tyre physic adjustments and an improved refresh rate are two things among many changes that improve the car handling. Forza Motorsport is still a semi-simulation racing game so it still doesn’t come close to iRacing but it is vastly improved compared to previous Forza’s. Your tune skills, weather, fuel and tyre selection all play a part in how cars will act. It is really satisfying to control the cars and Dan Greenawalt, the known face from Turn 10 published a lot of marketing about Forza Motorsport new handling. Personally, I think Assetto Corsa on Xbox has better handling but only by a narrow margin.
- Prepare for some epic online multiplayer! | True story first. Nearing the end of an online race I was in 4th position, to my surprise I ended up winning the race as the top 3 all had significant penalty points. My guess would be for cutting corners or crashing into other cars. There are MANY changes when it comes to Forza Motorsports online gameplay, all of them positive. I will begin with Featured Multiplayer, this start with a qualifying round and the actual race later. The only negative about that is races take quite a long time. This is all linked towards your Safety Rating, going from the lowest E to the highest S. I absolutely love it, as this removes toxic racers who crash into you on purpose. Rivals also make a return, allowing you to play against ghosts. Last are the private multiplayer options, here you have full control to do private online sessions. Have fun with those 24-hour races!
- Accessibility options | When blind or visually impaired people can play your racing game you have done something magical. For such people, it is a gift from heaven! Forza Motorsport has all kinds of accessibility options so ANYONE can play the game. This goes way beyond Screen Narration, no doubt this took a lot of time and resources so all due respect to Turn 10 and Microsoft.
Let’s take a moment to pay respects to all the insects in the grass
Neither good nor bad
- Career makes you dizzy from all the required laps | Welcome to the Builder’s Cup. Forza Motorsport has RPG elements for upgrading cars but it is far from an RPG experience in the career mode. I don’t mean this entirely negative but the career mode is rather boring. It has a strong focus on the driving experience and that’s why we are playing a race game! New in this Forza is that you are forced to complete three practice laps before you can start your actual race. I dislike this change in the formula as I’m forced to complete even more laps. I love racing games but I hate being forced to drive 10 laps or more… I guess racing fanatics won’t mind that. If you manage to achieve the practice bonus lap time you’ll receive additional bucks too. When you start the actual race you have a risk vs. reward system as you can select your starting position on the grid. You can start at position 3 or decide to start at the bottom, position 24. You can earn more money and car points if you take farther places and manage to be triumphant. The Builder’s Cup manages to showcase the many cars of Forza Motorsport but it lacks variety. While absolutely fantastic for car lovers I do think the themed event series structure will scare away many Forza Horizon and Game Pass players.
- It repeats the mistake from Forza Motorsport 5 | Remember playing Forza 5? I do! While I loved that racing game it seriously lacked content. It can also be said to a lesser extent of Forza Motorsport. It has only 20 completely rebuilt tracks. Forza 7 had 32 locations all over the world. It is a bit shocking to see the difference, especially if you take into consideration that they had over six years to give more content. Yes, each track has a day and night cycle and dynamic weather. I’m aware that this feat requires a lot more development time. I think Turn 10 is well aware of this fact and was quick on the ball to confirm that more free tracks are coming. Yas Marina Circuit is coming in November and Nurburgring Nordschleife has been announced for 2024.
- Car Customization | Where is the Creative hub from previous Forza games, Turn 10? This HAS to be something that’s likely coming in a future update. The livery editor is exactly the same as before and is now a bit limited as cars need to be a specific level before some parts can be used. Discovery and restrictions are an issue that will hopefully be solved soon.
Keep your head up.
Things I disliked!
- Bye bye splitscreen | I understand it somewhat. What % of players use split-screen? Would it be 10% already? It’s still a shame that siblings can’t race against each other anymore, or just against friends who stop by sometimes. Improved online multiplayer is good, but it’s no solution if your nephew wants to play Forza together.
How long did I play the review before publishing? 11 hours
How long to beat the story? 30 hours
How many Achievements did I earn before publishing? 180/1000
How long to achieve 1000G | 60 hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Gran Turismo – Assetto Corsa
88/100 ⭐| I expected more from Forza Motorsport glorious return. More content and some additional novelties perhaps? Either way, it’s a great racing experience with overwhelming visuals and sound. Turn 10 has delivered a very good game that will only get better with time.
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