It certainly looks like a Forza game, and the inconsistent driving model between vehicles assures it definitely plays like a Forza game when you’re out on the physical race track, but drastic changes Turn 10 have made to the flagship Xbox car-collecting RPG have sent both long-time fans and new recruits into a justified frenzy. Despite personally enjoying the title for the most part, as Forza is a pretty large change of pace compared to the ultra-bland PC smorgasbord simulators we usually discuss here on PRC, members of the game’s official subreddit have made their stance pretty clear on what they think of the new Forza game: Turn 10 have given a giant middle finger to their fans by pushing out a product that lacks polish, opens the door for intrusive microtransactions, and omits features that their core audience came to know and love from previous iterations of the franchise.
And though I may not feel the sting of these massive changes as much as someone who considers the Forza franchise to be a major part of their gaming passion, I fully sympathize with the crowd of folks who do. Reddit is on fire. The official Forza Motorsport community message boards are full of bans. Jim Sterling, a YouTube gaming personality who typically wants nothing to do with virtual race cars, has even gone out and performed one of his trademark tirades to show his support for the legions of Forza players wondering what in the fuck is happening to their beloved franchise. I think the fanboys will be quick to point out that I do indeed work for a rival developer and maybe it’s a conflict of interest to be writing a piece like this about a competitors’ product, but something is definitely wrong with what Turn 10 have put out on store shelves just a few short days ago if this kind of release is generating such a unanimous negative reaction.
So what’s wrong with Forza Motorsport 7?
We start from the top, with the game’s brand new rules package. Previously, the Forza Motorsport series operated on a letter-based vehicle class, in which all vehicles in the game were assigned both a letter and a suffix number, and then could be upgraded to compete against much faster cars so long as the user adhered to the maximum performance rating of any given class. This allowed gamers to make full use of the often preposterously large vehicle roster, as they could take a mid-range muscle car such as a Dodge Charger or Chevrolet Camaro, and strategically outfit it with performance upgrades that would allow it to compete on the same level as a Porsche 911 or Ferrari 458 Italia. Unlike Canada, diversity was Forza Motorsport’s strength, as the exciting part of progressing through campaign mode was not saving up enough money to buy the stereotypical high-end Lamborghini or McLaren, but tinkering with the extensive upgrading system to build your own unique track day warrior that could punch above its’ weight.
Forza Motorsport 7 has now almost entirely abolished this concept. Upgrading still exists in some fashion, but custom-built cars have now been restricted to just private online lobbies, or “free play“, the game’s single-race mode. Both the main campaign adventure, as well as Forza’s highly-anticipated online features, now make use of unique rules packages for each class of car that allow for little if any creativity, meaning that Forza 7 is now almost indistinguishable from Project CARS 2 or Assetto Corsa in how vehicles are sorted. The process of purchasing a Subaru Impreza and slowly building it into an S-class sleeper no longer occurs as it did in previous iterations of the franchise; you’re instead thanked for joining the Sport Compact class, and told that basically any upgrade you purchase save for a custom livery would make the car ineligible for competition. I’m over halfway through Forza 7, and not once have I been forced to upgrade my car. It’s essentially like I’m playing Assetto Corsa with a massive car-collecting meta-game and tons of XP bars to fill.
Considering the past decade of Forza Motorsport has been all about taking one car and making it yours, this is a very strange design choice, and it’s pissed off a lot of fans. Some have speculated it was a drastic measure to get rid of the leaderboard cars that dominated online racing despite the lack of talent behind the wheel – such as the numerous 800-horsepower all-wheel drive Dodge Vipers of Forza Motorsport 4 – but it has also simultaneously destroyed the automotive sandbox element of the Forza franchise. All this has done is display to the world that Turn 10 don’t even understand how the vast majority of people are playing their game.
Turn 10 have also ripped people off, an arguably more devious decision than modifying the in-game rules package. As you’ve probably been made aware of by now, most releases of Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon often advertise extensive VIP packages that in some instances cost twice the amount of the base game. Yes, some people paid $130 for Forza Motorsport 7, and I was one of them. Thank you, WordPress ad revenue. Within this package, you’re essentially paying up front for any downloadable content that will come out over the next year or so, though other perks are included as well. For this iteration, Turn 10 advertised a special VIP bonus that would increase the payout of offline races, essentially making single player progression a bit easier considering the root structure of the game revolves around purchasing vehicles and other miscellaneous items. Many folks bought into this VIP program under the assumption that these financial perks would be permanent, allowing them to treat Forza like the automotive sandbox it should have been, though this is where the problems arise.
The VIP boost that people paid extra for, ended up being a consumable in-game item with limited usage, and this wasn’t really made clear in the description of the VIP package prior to release. Basically, a lot of unwilling customers immediately activated and subsequently burnt up the perks of their special edition order within the first hour of the game, making it more or less useless. Aware of their advertising slip-up, Turn 10 stealthily edited the description of the VIP package to paint a clearer picture of what the VIP bonuses actually did, but by then the refunds had already started. I personally figured out quite quickly that the VIP bonus should be saved until the last races of the game to generate absurdly high payouts and guarantee financial stability, but others failed to catch on in time.
And that’s because money does not pool in Forza Motorsport 7, it instead quickly changes hands because the game always wants you to spend it. Money comes in, money goes out. This is due to the introduction of prize crates, which are a staple of first-person shooters, and something no Forza Motorsport fan willingly asked for.
Seen in Battlefield, Rocket League, Counter-Strike, and a flurry of other games that do not involve race cars, Forza Motorsport 7 has introduced the micro-transaction hell known as prize crates into an environment that just doesn’t need it in the first place – it’s pure greed on the part of the developer.
Basically, you exchange a fairly large sum of money and receive in return what’s essentially a pack of automotive hockey cards – some of these give you fancy racing suits, others cash rewards, some provide you with mods that you can activate to increase your earnings in each race just like in previous iterations of Forza, and lastly you can get some desirable vehicles out of them as well. Provided you can manage your finances in Forza 7 properly, they’re a neat little gimmick that represent the operational cost of running a pretend race team. Money comes in from race winnings, and money goes out towards prize crates, which in return net you financial boosts to apply in your next race, as well as cars or other goodies. You do a few more races, money comes in, and money once again is spent on a few prize crates.
The problem here, is that Forza Motorsport 7 relies on them too much. For the average user just trying to slug it out through the game with some of their favorite cars, purchasing these solely with in-game credits is a difficult thing to ask unless said user understands the meta-game at hand. You have to actively sit down and figure out what type of crates to buy and when, balancing a strategic number of purchases versus the amount of winnings you’re taking in, financial boosts you’re applying, and driver level bonuses you’re acquiring without fucking yourself out of credits. You are always worrying about the flow of money in Forza 7 and how to future-proof yourself from financial peril, rather than treating it like an automotive sandbox. Furthermore, Turn 10 eventually plan to allow prize crates to be obtained via micro-transactions, meaning that these dudes don’t really have a problem exploiting young kids who maybe can’t grasp in-game financial planning and just want some sweet cars.
Continuing to complicate an already complex problem with no solution other than its’ outright removal, over one hundred and fifty cars of the game’s 700+ – almost a full sim’s worth of vehicles – can only be obtained through prize crates. These are not restricted to just rare or exciting cars; it’s pretty much random as to what has been locked away behind a prize crate. You can’t actually go in-game and outright buy a 2014 Chevrolet SS or a 2015 McLaren 570s; you have to spend millions of credits (and eventually real money when that functionality is implemented) gambling on pretend hockey cards and just sort of hope it shows up one day. I cannot buy the virtual street version of a race car I drove this year because Forza instead wants me to play a virtual slot machine. Imagine purchasing Assetto Corsa knowing full well the Lotus 49 is in the game, and being told you can only obtain it via random microtransactions that are skewed in the house’s favor. This is what Turn 10 believe constitutes as a “fun” racing game in 2017; encouraging players who are mostly kids and teenagers that don’t quite understand how to analyze meta-games, that gambling – not getting better at the game – is how you obtain your car of choice.
My dad wanted to pick up a copy of Forza Motorsport 7 because it’s being shilled on all of the pro-Microsoft PC hardware outlets as “racing game of the year,” and he’s got the PC to run it. If you want to understand just how fucked gaming has become, try explaining the above paragraph to someone whose last gaming experience was Monster Truck Madness 2. If he pulled the trigger as planned, I’d have to tell him that unless he devoted the next month to playing Forza and throwing millions of in-game currency away on slot machines, he’d be unable to drive his two favorite cars in the game, the SRT8 variants of the Dodge Challenger & Charger.
Does nobody at Turn 10 understand how retarded this is? Because you honestly can’t tell me a human being with a passion for racing games thought this was a good idea.
The simple solution to all of the above would be to just disable all in-game driving assists and reap the rewards for your virtual prowess, correct? Previous iterations of Forza have been quite good for throwing money at you if you can demonstrate you’re able to drive without the game holding your hand, but this too, has been removed despite still being in other titles such as DiRT 4. Forza Motorsport 7 no longer adds extra earnings multipliers based on how many assists you disable, it’s all down to the AI difficulty you select in the options menu, as well as your race length – new to the Forza series. Financial bonuses for driving without assists have now been inserted into the perks category, which as implied above, can only be obtained via prize crates. And if you understand the meta-game by now, this leads to a cycle of using these perks to boost your race winnings so you can afford to buy more prize crates, so you can keep boosting your race winnings to buy more prize crates.
Starting to see why fans are furious with Forza 7? We’ve lost the automotive sandbox environment, and Turn 10 have replaced it with a virtual casino that constantly forces users to worry about their in-game finances rather than exploring the game world in an unrestricted manner. As the legendary TV personality Billy Mays used to say: “But wait, there’s more!”
In some cases, tracks fail to render properly. The game suffers from constant freezing and stuttering, which should not be a problem with an Alienware Aurora R5. As depicted in the shot of a downloadable content Mercedes above, some cars ship with incorrect wheelbase dimensions and it looks sloppy as hell. There are some guys around these parts that are pretty loyal Forza fans, because past iterations of the franchise have been objectively very good, and I’ve enjoyed them myself. On the contrary, Forza 7 does not exhibit this same level of overall polish and quality; this is absurdly sloppy for a first-party Microsoft release.
Yes, you can drive as a girl, and gamble with in-game currency on the chance of winning unique racing suits that you’ll see dancing around the main menu for about ten seconds at a time. Out on the race track, some vehicles feature wheels that don’t steer, and near-identical vehicles across the same class feature drastically different on-board camera views. The Holden V8 Supercar is almost undrivable in the “simulator” viewpoint because you’re forced to stare at the dashboard and sit super low. By comparison, the Nissan Altima is totally fine. Why is there even a discrepancy in the first place?
This discrepancy also applies to the driving model itself, which should in theory be Forza’s redeeming quality, but unfortunately isn’t. In fact, this is where a lot of the YouTube personalities shilling for the game can be immediately dismissed as viral marketers. The more you explore Forza Motorsport 7 and the more willing you are to experiment with different types of car, the more it becomes apparent that Turn 10 really don’t give a shit about what this game feels like behind the wheel.
As mentioned in my previous article, it is necessary to both tweak your steering wheel until it is absolutely perfect, and then for each car you intend on driving, proceed to mess with the default setup to inject realistic values, because almost all of what Turn 10 have provided as default values are beyond retarded. All tires are inflated to 33 PSI, even racing slicks that hate being above the 21 to 24 PSI range. The toe is wrong. The differential values are often dangerous. The brake bias is too far backwards. But as a sim racer this isn’t particularly difficult to overcome, just enormously time consuming and uncharacteristic for a game from a development team of this size. So for the sake of this next rant, let’s assume we’ve gotten past this point and done our part of the job in preparing Forza 7 for an evening or weekend of virtual racing.
For starters, there are absolutely, positively some good cars. Instantly I felt the 1960’s Grand Prix cars were very similar to what I’d expect from a modern Grand Prix Legends. The American Stock Cars, though they didn’t run in a big pack at Daytona but instead a 1980’s-style slingshot train, were highly enjoyable and deemed worthy of my praise; especially on road courses. The V8 Supercars are also a lot of fun.
But then the cracks start to show. Lap times in Forza 7 are drastically slower than what the real world vehicles are capable of. My McLaren MP4-12c GT3 entry struggled to hit a 2:07.4 at Mount Panorama, whereas the real-life GT3 class record is a 2:01 – which I’ve actually matched in RaceRoom Racing Experience. Nordschleife GT3 times float around in the high eight minute range (I think I ran an 8:45 under race conditions), the pole lap in 2016 set by a Mercedes AMG GT3 clocking in at just 8:14, a full thirty seconds faster. So something is clearly wrong here.
And this is because even the best cars in Forza Motorsport 7 feel like heavy boats that require you to under-drive the shit out of them, aside from maybe the 60’s Grand Prix cars – probably the best cars in the game. Many times I felt as if I was racing in slow-motion, as what you see on television and in other simulators, isn’t replicated in Forza Motorsport 7; there is a mushy, lumbering feel to even the fastest of vehicles on the roster. I was lucky enough to race a car with roughly the same power-to-weight ratio as a GT3 car this season, and during my travels I discovered that most simulators are in the ballpark, some more than others, with Grid Autosport and BeamNG getting the closest in terms of verisimilitude. Forza 7 by comparison is slow, floaty, and generally lacks precision.
It always feels as if you’re driving a mid-range street car in Assetto Corsa; this isn’t really a bad thing if you happen to be driving a similar mid-range street car in Forza 7, or a big heavy American stock car, but it certainly gets weird when a nimble GTE entry presents the same overall driving characteristics. Not only do you wonder how this got past the Quality Assurance team, you also wonder how pro-Forza outlets like AR12 have not once questioned why a 2016 Ford GT GTE is several seconds slower than the real world times, and handles like a dump truck. Are you actual car guys, or do you just make YouTube videos showing off retarded cars for your pre-teen fanbase to giggle at while doing their homework? Wait, I’ll answer that – it’s the latter.
The issue of bizarre vehicle dynamics comes to a forefront when examining Forza 7’s cover athlete, the 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS – which was supposed to be this exclusive car that everybody jizzed over, but instead ends up being a total dud. Under the “Normal” steering assistance setting, the car exhibits such intense levels of understeer it’s almost frustrating to try and take aim at any quick laps seen in Rivals mode – which I did anyways because I find joy in pain and despair – while “Simulation” steering creates absurd levels of lift-off oversteer. In both circumstances, this car is for the most part useless and not worth the 400,000 in-game credits you’ll spend on it, and I say that while holding down 19th on the North American leaderboard in the spec challenge it’s featured in.
I figured out the nonsensical way in which Forza wants me to drive the thing, only to strengthen my argument that it’s complete garbage and I’m not being a little bitch who sucks at the game. That’s an hour of my time I’m not getting back, just to win a fight on the internet.
This car currently holds the world record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, the absolute most difficult purpose-built auto racing circuit on planet earth, and in Forza Motorsport 7, this car loses the back end at 70 km/h with both feet off the pedals in a gentle corner. You simply cannot drive the virtual counterpart in Forza anywhere near as hard as you can drive the actual car out on a physical circuit. It is not possible. The 2018 Porsche GT2RS as depicted in Forza Motorsport 7 is the worst sim car ever made; it is incomprehensibly broken beyond repair.
As is the Radical SR8 RX, for largely the same reasons. Yesterday, Forza 7 taught me that a lightweight trackday prototype powered by a motorcycle engine has the precision and grace of a 1986 Dodge Lancer with fucked up shocks. I look forward to the YouTube personalities conveniently ignoring all of this and spending the next six to eight months boasting about how great Forza Motorsport 7 is while Turn 10 supply them with complimentary prize crates, because watching people sit in a menu opening pretend hockey card packs is a very real thing that reels in thousands of viewers.
I have not regurgitated my views on the number of filler cars that will never be used – such as the excessive number of Trophy Trucks, Formula E entries, big rigs, and vintage grand prix cars from the 1930’s – because that’s a dead horse we’ve already beaten pretty severely. These cars are all useless, and the way Forza inflates their car count by treating multiple liveries as unique individual cars is quite dirty. But we all knew that.
I will, however, touch on the other messed up bullshit. The process of tuning no longer allows you to test drive your car and make adjustments on the fly, as it did in previous Forza Motorsport games. In-game rewards for others downloading your designs/tuning setups, or these same people racing against your personal drivatar, are shockingly low, meaning there isn’t really an incentive to become a designated livery designer or tuner as was the case in previous Forza games. The auction house wasn’t ready for launch, nor were Forza leagues. Want more? Go to Reddit and spend a good ten to fifteen minutes clicking on threads at random. They’ll touch on everything I covered, and more.
Forza Motorsport 7 is a shitty ex-girlfriend. From afar, and according to her close circle of friends desperately trying to get you involved by any means necessary, she’s pretty and enticing. And as predicted, there ends up being more to the story; she becomes demanding and controlling the moment you’re sucked in. She doesn’t want you to explore and have fun, building cars at your leisure or creating designs for others to enjoy – reaping the rewards and recognition in the process.
She wants you to blow all your money gambling, and what little racing is done will always be under her set of strict rules that conveniently capitalize on her sudden dis-interest in sandbox elements that she was once so happy to encourage. Forza Motorsport 7 is a 90 gigabyte personality disorder; the franchise has become intoxicated by elements and mechanics which it never once stood for, and attempted to re-write its identity overnight to the dismay of thousands of supporters. And just like the women I’ve compared it to, there will undoubtedly be a stream of customers willingly taking the plunge, all while thinking “it can’t be as bad as people are saying…”
Just wait. You’ll figure it out. This alleged Microsoft employee did.