Forza Motorsport 7 Preview - E3 2017
Getting behind the wheel of the next chapter in the racing franchise
The Forza Motorsport franchise has always aimed to define the Xbox brand of racing. Whether it’s launching with a ton of content, or right alongside the launch of new hardware, the developers at Turn 10 are clearly in-tune with what racing fans want to see on the Xbox console. The upcoming release of Forza Motorsport 7 is no exception – slated to release in sync with the powerful new Xbox One X, this latest entry will also bring with it all of the content and great gameplay that has already firmly established itself on the Xbox One platform. At E3 2017, we had a chance to go hands-on with this new iteration.
Our demo was split into three sections. First up, we decided to take the newly revealed Porsche 911 GT2 RS for a spin around a brand new Dubai track. While the game is loading, you’re no longer stuck staring at the screen; you can take the time to adjust your settings, Drivatar and difficulty, and also customize your Driver Gear (a new feature as well). Roaring to go at the starting line, the Porsche took off with earnest and dedication, and soon enough the opposition was left in the distant hot sands. The controls felt as tight and precise as they always do, with the level of difficulty depending on the assists you’ve chosen. While the car looked and sounded lovely, it’s the track that really impressed. Featuring some stunning desert views and structures, great turns and straightaways, it was a pure joy to drive. And in my opinion, it was better than the Rio de Janeiro track used to demo FM6. Some of the more exposed sections of the track had sand dramatically blowing across it. It was just a really fun drive, and one of the better original tracks that the Forza franchise has offered as of late.
The second demo offered something completely new and different – a 2015 Mercedes Racing truck that blasted through the Mugello Circuit. It was loud, it was heavy, and a bunch of the trucks all trying to take a sharp corner led to about as much chaos as you can imagine. This sort of an example of an expanded discipline is not something that the franchise has dabbled in much before, and if it works out, it could lead to greater things in the future. Having said that, the amount of frustration and collisions that is bound to occur when trying to race these trucks online will surely put some players off. But, as somewhat of a distraction from the main disciplines, it should be a fun time. The truck handled appropriately well depending on the speeds, and the constant sound of gear shifting and braking definitely made it feel as an entirely different experience from the usual Forza. Trying to slam the breaks at the last second and putting these large, heavy machines into a drift is something quite new for the series; how well the game simulates this sort of racing is up for debate, but as a video game it’s a fun experience.
Last, but certainly not least, was a race that took us to the GP Circuit of Nürburgring in a 2015 Nissan GTR. The iconic track is always a good time, but what made this particular trip special was the technical showcase of the weather and lighting systems. As the race kicked off, the weather was fair and the track dry. But gradually, we watched some clouds roll in and black out the sun. Shortly after, the rain began. Fans will recall that Forza Motorsport 6 introduced wet track conditions, but they were static; you could either race on a dry or wet track. Now, with the possibility of weather changes during a race in progress, it becomes a new challenge. While rolling weather is nothing new to racing games, it is new to the modern Forza, and the simulation that happens behind the scenes felt impressive. The track offered notably less grip, and an adjustment needed to be made to compensate. Water started to pool in the dips and sides of the track, and while driving through them had a slight effect, we didn’t notice any large puddles (that would even slow you down) like in the last game. In addition to the rain, loud cracks of thunder and bright flashes of lighting added a ton to the atmosphere. It was a rather harrowing drive. Thankfully later on, the weather began to calm, and rain eventually stopped. The track remained wet, of course, but soon the clouds drifted apart, and a beautiful sunset greeted the racers as they crossed the finish line.
Forza Motorsport 7 looks to continue the tradition of offering high quality simulation racers on the Xbox One console family. Based on our experiences with the E3 demo, it looks to be a solid all-around game with plenty of cars, great original tracks, and even new additions like trucks. It’s also clear that Turn 10 continue to try and expand on the experience, with the great weather effects, and added driver customization. These may not be genre-firsts, but what helps the FM7 implementation stand out is the sheer quality of these features. Sure, you’ve seen rolling weather elsewhere before, but you’ve probably not seen it done quite this well.
Forza Motorsport 7 will arrive on Xbox One console family and Windows 10 PCs this October.