Racing Excellence Meets Disappointing Downgrades
The early access version of Forza Motorsport is soon to be released on Xbox Series X/S and PC. Given the unusually enormous file size, players had a long head start preloading the game; now, depending on whatever version they receive, they will be able to access the game.
Forza Motorsport Premium Edition owners can begin playing five days earlier than owners of other editions. This guide will outline the release dates for early access and the game’s official launch because the unlock times vary depending on the platform or country.
In the exhilarating world of racing simulation games, Forza Motorsport has long been a household name. The release of Forza Motorsport for Xbox Series X and PC on October 10, 2023, promised a breathtaking driving experience that would push the boundaries of realism. But, as we dive deep into the game, it becomes clear that this new installment is a mixed bag of triumphs and disappointments.
The Good: A Smooth and Slick Racing Experience
Let’s start with the good news. Forza Motorsport on Xbox Series X is arguably one of the smoothest-feeling racing simulations ever made. It takes full advantage of the hardware’s capabilities, offering a silky-smooth 60fps experience that is nothing short of fantastic. When you’re behind the wheel of a high-performance race car, chasing an online opponent or shaving precious seconds off your lap times in Rivals mode, you’ll be thoroughly impressed.
One of the standout features of this new installment is the introduction of dynamic weather and time-of-day cycles. These additions add a layer of realism that was missing in previous versions, making the races feel more dynamic and engaging. The rendering is noticeably slicker, and the game serves as a true showcase for the capabilities of Xbox Game Studios.
The Bad: A Downgraded Single-Player Experience
But, as with any complex racing simulation, not everything is as perfect as it seems. The single-player experience in Forza Motorsport takes a hit when compared to its predecessor, Forza Motorsport 7. While the game excels in its focus on modifying famous motorcars in the career mode, it falls short in terms of variety and overall enjoyment.
The core gameplay loop in the single-player mode centers around allocating “Car Points” to enhance your vehicle’s performance. While this system is easy to grasp, it can sometimes feel repetitive. The game simplifies the process by offering an automatic upgrade option, but it doesn’t always deliver perfect results. Each race in the career mode begins with a mandatory 10-minute practice session. While this might help you familiarize yourself with the track, it can feel like a drag when repeated before every race. Skipping it results in fewer credits and Car Points, making it less advisable. The optional target lap time adds a bit of challenge but doesn’t significantly impact the gameplay.
One puzzling aspect of the game is the option to choose your grid position, ranging from 4th to 24th. While it offers bonus rewards for meeting your targets, it feels out of place and lacks the excitement of traditional starting grids. The majority of the career mode races feature relatively slow cars, resulting in a sedate and underwhelming experience. Manoeuvring these vehicles through corners can be patience-testing, and unexpected AI braking can lead to frustrating collisions. While enhancing grip through Car Points can make it more enjoyable, the core gameplay loop feels monotonous over extended periods.
Presentation: A Step Backwards
The game’s presentation style takes a step backward compared to its predecessor. Gone are the famous guest voiceovers, upbeat music, and gloss-heavy menus. Instead, players are greeted with a more basic design featuring gray screens with orange accents. This shift from bombast to simplicity may disappoint long-time fans.
Additionally, certain arcadey features, such as Mod Cards and the fruit machine bonus spinner, have been removed. However, this doesn’t mean Forza Motorsport has transformed into a hardcore simulator. Many simulation elements that could have added depth, such as qualifying rounds, safety cars, and team management, are notably absent. The AI also lacks obvious defensive driving tactics, making the racing experience feel basic and stripped down compared to other racing franchises.
Graphics and Performance
On the Xbox Series X, Forza Motorsport offers two visual settings: one with ray tracing and a dynamic 60fps mode, and another with 4K fidelity at 30fps. While the 30fps mode can be enjoyable with extended play, it’s disappointing not to have 4K resolution combined with ray tracing on the Series X.
Graphically, Forza Motorsport is clean and polished but doesn’t achieve full photorealism. Some cars may appear plasticky, especially at night. Day/night transitions update the lighting and shadows every 18-25 seconds, occasionally resulting in noticeable jumps. The dynamic skies, while beautiful, don’t feel as freeform as those in the original Project CARS.
Online Mode: A Beacon of Excellence
While the single-player experience may leave much to be desired, the online mode in Forza Motorsport shines brightly. It adopts a timed-event entry system similar to Gran Turismo Sport, offering engaging and competitive races. Penalties and license level changes deter poor sportsmanship, making online racing feel serious and meaningful.
The “Rivals” mode, which resembles a Time Attack format, lets you compete against rival gamers through online leaderboards and ghosts. This mode can be particularly enjoyable, especially when racing faster cars that respond well to quick inputs. However, beyond the car dealership and free play, the game feels smaller and emotionally flat compared to its predecessor, Forza Motorsport 7.
Forza Motorsport for Xbox Series X and PC is a mixed bag of racing excellence. While it excels in providing a smooth and visually appealing racing experience, the single-player career mode falls short of expectations. The absence of certain simulation elements and the AI’s erratic behavior detract from the overall immersion and enjoyment.
However, the online mode shines as a competitive and engaging option for racing enthusiasts. With promised updates and additional content, the game may evolve over time and address some of its shortcomings.