Xbox and Forza have always gone hand in hand ever and since the release of Forza Horizon 3, the Forza series has grown to over 5 million monthly active users. All that time Turn 10 had been hard at work behind the scenes rebuilding the next installment to the Forza Motorsport franchise from the ground up. After one year of anticipation, enter Forza Motorsport 7, the game that is bound to become the year's hottest Xbox exclusive.
2017's entry into the Forza series is the best version yet, complete with a lot of big changes, including a career mode that simulates being a real-life race car driver, improved graphics, and everything you need to make your racing experience more personal and immersive as ever. I've been hands-on with an early copy of Forza Motorsport 7 for the past few hours and here is why I think it's the best Forza to grace Xbox.
An excellent and true to real life career mode:
Upon starting up Forza Motorsport 7 for the first time, and after choosing or customizing your driver, you'll be greeted with information about a new career mode dubbed the Forza Driver's Cup. Over a period of three demo races, you'll then be placed in three different types of cars at three different types of tracks, giving you a taste of what's to come ahead in the game.
To begin, I must say the format of the career mode is so far my favorite part of the game. Most average players will be spending a lot of time in this mode so it is important for the Forza team to get this right. Get it right they did, and during my time in career, I was actually racing towards an end goal, rather than just grinding and racing for money to buy shiny new cars. Being the racing fan I am, as my wins piled up in career mode, I was figuratively building a nice racing reputation and slowly becoming the next Jeff Gordon.
Anyway, you'll start the career mode with a choice of an entry line vehicle which is gifted to you (like a 2010 Volkswagen Golf R) and you'll be racing at relatively slower paces on some of the game's less famous race tracks. This allows you some time to adapt to the new Forza 7 experience and admire the full out physics and graphical beauty of the game.
Career mode itself is divided up into six different championship sections: Seeker, Breakout, Evolution, Domination, Masters, and then the ultimate section, the Forza Driver's Cup. Each of these championship sections is also sub-divided up into different series, getting progressively harder as you make your way up, similar to how you'll need to make your way up in a real-life racing career. Plus just as in real life (say the NASCAR Monster Energy Series), finishing races in each of the sections also rewards you series points, meaning you won't have to necessarily win all the races to win a title!
Speaking of winning, along with the usual money and experience, career mode also rewards you for racing by giving you Milestone Rewards. Each time a new milestone is reached, you'll have the choice of grabbing credits, a car, or driver gear. Compared to the random prize spins system which was in Forza 6, this guaranteed reward is very similar to receiving new sponsorship contracts, and bonuses in real-world racing.
With all the talk of Forza 7 supporting 4K on Xbox One X, the primary reason why most people would be interested in this game is the graphics. In my brief time with the game so far, I've found that Forza 7 graphics are indeed very impressive, even on my older Xbox One paired with a standard HDTV. Simply put, it's one of the best-looking racing games out there, really living up to the hype. It also reminded me why I purchased my Xbox One over a Sony PS4--- to enjoy the awesome racing experience that comes with Forza.
Without getting into too many details, compared to Forza 6, the tracks and other game environments in Forza 7 have less of a darker look, feeling more true to real life. The game runs at 60fps and in my brief time with the game thus far, I also noticed how Forza 7 brings out some of the finest details in racing, like the special attention to the grass blades at Daytona Speedway, or the sand kicking up when racing at the Dubai Full Circuit.
The same can be said for the cars, especially the way you can switch to an alternate cockpit view for a closer view of the dashboard when driving. While using this camera view, I was clearly able to see the clock shift on my car's dash and watch as the miles and distance traveled climbed up on the odometer. While this was already present on some cars in Forza 6, it's now more noticeable in Forza 7. Of course, you'll also be able to explore the full detail of all the cars in Forza Vista, which thanks to enhanced graphics, literally makes it feel as though you're sitting in the car on a showroom floor.
Racing in the rain is also fun, as you'll notice the reflections in puddles and at wet sports on the race track. The dynamic weather too holds true to the hype. In career mode, I started a race in the pouring rain and then it slowly stopped raining and became bright and dry. It was rather satisfying, and I felt a bit rewarded for being able to handle my car and survive the grueling racing conditions.
A refined modern UI that just feels so natural:
Let's face it, when you're focused on racing, you really don't want to be sifting through boring menus to customize or tune the game and race settings to your liking. Well, Forza Motorsport 7 is the complete opposite of this, featuring a great user interface which is integrated right on top of all the action.
Similar to what was seen in Forza 6, the car is front and center in the main menu and the user interface with Forza 7. This time, though, you'll also notice your driver standing next to the car, with a very minimalistic menu right next to him or her. In Forza 7, gone are the huge looking Windows 8.1 reminiscent tiles, and new is a minimalistic menu that will follow you throughout your experiences within the game.
The menus appear during loading screens, and you can access them while the main track and events are still loading. This is a great option, especially when you want to quickly change settings before you drop into a long race. There are options to change your car, track, check tuning and upgrades, change assists, check your competitors in the starting grid, test drive a setup, change difficulty or driver gear. In previous Forza games these settings were all hidden under submenus or required exiting the race, so it's great to have them front and center in Forza 7.
New personalization options:
Along with graphics, what sets Forza 7 apart from other racing titles is the amount of personalization. It's a nice touch and gone the days where the firesuit of your virtual driver just matched the color of the car you were driving. Just like how you can customize your car, you can now customize your driver with various sets of gear, ranging from wacky astronaut suits to some much more serious looking professional racing gear. Driver gear, as it's called, is what allows for this personalization, and you'll be able to find hundreds of classic driver gear from pop culture and even racing history. They are unlocked as rewards, DLC, or as prize crates, once again, a very rewarding experience for racing and finishing well in career mode.
All the cars and tracks a racing fan can want:
To end, I will mention the obvious: Forza 7 is a race fan dream come true. There are a total of 700 cars and 32 racing environments in the game, making it one of the most comprehensive racing titles ever released. You can race NASCAR stock cars at Daytona or take a 1992 Toyota T100 Baja Truck for a spin on a track sitting in the deserts of Dubai. Or, you can impress your friends by buying and racing the most expensive cars and gathering up a large collection of Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini cars. Best of all, you don't have to be rich or worry about spending in-game money to race your dream car either, as all non-DLC cars can be rented and returned!
There is still plenty more which can be said about Forza Motorsport 7, but certain areas of the game (such as multiplayer) were not available for me to access during the time of writing. For now, I'll leave you by saying that I've been very impressed with the career mode, the graphics, user interfaces, level of personalization, and the amount of cars and tracks that are available in Forza 7. I'll be playing the game for the next couple of days, and will follow up with a full-on review in days ahead.
As always, please keep it tuned to OnMSFT for all your Forza news and information. If you have any suggestions for areas which you would like me to explore in my final review, please do let us know by dropping us a comment below! And remember, you can play the game early on Friday, September 29th, ahead of the October 3rd general release by buying the ultimate edition of Forza Motorsport 7! So, click that link below to guarantee your chance at playing the best Forza to ever grace Xbox!