Using Forza 7 as a League Platform

It’s supposed to be a car culture simulator; a game in which designing liveries, bidding on vehicles in the auction house – which still has yet to be implemented – and taking photographs is equally integral to the core experience as the racing itself. Morphing into this all-encompassing automotive monstrosity over the past decade and some change, there’s been a bit of talk among series veterans that Forza Motorsport as a franchise always seems to wander further and further from the motorsport side of things with each passing rendition. Those who have been around for the long haul may recall the series once began as a simulation-oriented online racer – a natural progression beyond Project Gotham – but the surge of popularity and development of distinct communities encouraged Turn 10 accommodate the needs of those whom unironically believed racing was secondary in a racing game.

Unfortunately, these accommodations seemingly came at the expense of the overall online racing experience. It is for this reason that Forza Motorsport 7 both succeeds and fails simultaneously as a competitive racing platform, despite offering more cars, tracks, and private lobby options than one could ever possibly make use of within the game’s natural lifespan. Microsoft revolutionized the gaming industry with the launch of Xbox Live, introducing the average gamer to the idea of competing against others online as a normal part of your Saturday evening, yet Forza 7’s approach to online racing in some instances has gone backwards.

When it works, it’s pretty awesome – though there are limitations. When it doesn’t work, it’s very frustrating. And when you find out what’s missing compared to previous Forza games, it’s perplexing.

Turn 10 removed live spectating from Forza Motorsport 7. This means it’s no longer possible to monitor online races with live stewards, broadcast league events to the outside world, or in the case of drifting events, hold the event in the first place – you sort of need judges in spectating mode to do that. The eSports community spawned around Forza Motorsport 6, split pretty evenly between traditional circuit racing and drifting, is now almost non-existent because Turn 10 decided to leave out this otherwise essential feature present in the previous game. The Microsoft product page claims it exists, but at the moment it certainly doesn’t.

(Leagues aren’t operational at the time of this writing, either.)

For private online championships, this means there cannot be a race director issuing penalties manually over voice chat, or just generally watching over the field to ensure all is well. For larger-scale leagues, commentary or professional-style race broadcasts are now a thing of the past. For the hardcore drift communities, using Forza 7 to hold competitive online events with live judges – as is the norm in the online drifting community – isn’t possible, effectively forcing them to stick with the previous game.

There are people who will obviously counter this issue with “just buy a PC simulator and join one of their leagues instead.” That’s not the point; Forza Motorsport for many has offered more than enough cars, tracks, and a dynamic ecosystem in which many just don’t feel the need to look beyond what Turn 10 have built for Microsoft platforms. Just as they became comfortable with Forza as a competitive league platform, Turn 10 removed this functionality.

Turn 10 also removed the ability for the host of a session to arrange starting grids manually. Though you can still hold mock qualifying sessions by scoring a shorter heat race by fastest individual lap, and then having the main event grid ordered by results of the previous heat race, untimely disconnections, application failures, system crashes, or the inevitable opening lap carnage do-overs cannot be countered by a manual user override as they once were. Provided qualifying goes well, you have precisely one shot to start the race with a somewhat proper grid order, and that’s only if everything goes according to plan. Sim racers should know by now that this scenario is a rarity in league racing.

These two major omissions should give some much needed context to the bigger problems Forza currently faces; features integral to fostering a proper competitive scene have disappeared overnight, though you can now spend copious amounts of in-game currency on virtual slot machines in the hopes of acquiring more outfits for your action figure that dances in the menus. This isn’t to say running an online league is impossible in Forza Motorsport 7, you’re just very limited in scale; what functionality exists is more appropriate for a handful of like-minded enthusiasts than a hardcore championship among Forza’s elite.

So naturally, 4Chan started their own semi-private championship to see what could be done. I’m currently sitting second in points out of fifteen scored drivers, with just one win so far. These are my observations.

The rules are quite simple, though Forza Motorsport 7 thinks otherwise. You’re required to install a proper roll cage and equip a set of racing slicks, though how you get to the performance index of S800 agreed upon by series organizers is entirely up to your own experimentation. While in the process of building a car, Forza constantly whines that your ride doesn’t adhere to the respective homologation rules laid out by Turn 10, and the orange caution symbol becomes quite an annoying sight to see when it’s clear you’re creating something intended for private use.

Memory leak issues make designing a livery quite painful; there is talk of Forza painters still using the sixth game to create their designs, and then merely importing into Forza 7.

The lack of an open-ended offline hot lap mode –  as seen in Forza 6, and absent in 7 – also rustles my jimmies just a bit; there’s no simple way to directly compare your practice times against fellow competitors in the days leading up to the event – we’ve instead been forced to write down our times on a Google document the old fashioned way. If you want to attack ghost cars of any sort, Turn 10 want you turning laps on their combinations with their rules packages; creativity is now stifled in favor of finite themed events. The problem here is that Rivals time trial events back in the day used to pay out quite well, giving you an extra incentive to keep practicing a track or chasing after a friend’s ghost – it would actively contribute to your financial stability, which in this year’s game actually matters. Unfortunately, deviating from the predetermined selection of time trial events to practice for an upcoming league race at your own leisure now accomplishes precisely nothing, when that’s not how it used to be.

As a few of our readers have pointed out, there are no shortage of options when it comes to creating your own custom lobby – save for the integral ones, such as the ability to spectate a race and manually order the grid. No, not every track features dynamic weather and time of day settings, but what is available is still equally impressive. Cloud cover and precipitation can fluctuate throughout an event, providing racers with an experience that accomplishes the same end goal as the more complex simulators such as rFactor 2 and Project CARS 2, though there isn’t a dynamic driving line to speak of. When you’re actually in the race, I find Forza’s weather effects very difficult to complain about; it doesn’t really matter that it’s not “truly dynamic.” What matters is that it’s raining, it looks good, the vehicle handling is believable, and everyone is struggling with the adverse conditions.

The biggest problem we’ve run into, is that the rooms aren’t very stable, and just getting a race off requires some patience. We’ve had to eradicate qualifying sessions and start races with 100% random grids because certain people were randomly booted from the session or became stuck in the lobby. Drivers have been placed into races only to discover massive chunks of the track failed to render – a common problem with Forza 7 so far – or in one instance (today), their controller inputs were permanently stuck and caused them to do a 180-degree turn when the lights went out. 80% of participants do not report any problems over the course of the evening, but in a league race, you want 100% of participants to at least take the green flag – justifying several restarts in order to get to that point. Right now, this is proving to be difficult.

Person A gets kicked from the lobby and has to be re-invited. Person B fails to load into the race and we have to start a new room. Person C’s application randomly closed on him and now tells him the servers are offline, so he’s got to restart his PC. The game sits at the loading screen for seven minutes, and finally puts us all in the race when the host backs out of his own lobby – so obviously that too requires an extra five minutes of configuration.

By this time, we’re thirty minutes behind schedule.

Thankfully, the netcode holds up it’s end of the bargain, and this is partially why people are so keen on make something out of Forza as a league platform – wheel to wheel racing is really, really good. And this is also why there has been so much outrage at Turn 10’s botched launch from all sides of the community; Forza 7 performs great when firing on all cylinders, it just takes a while to get there. You can race guys absurdly close without a care in the world as to what direction the netcode will throw you in, and energy upon contact with another car is transferred in a very fluid, predictable manner.

Two talented drivers can knock each other around with various light taps and shunts to free up some attacking space, never once worrying that the game will interpret their aggressive driving as a malicious assault on the receiving vehicle. It’s like a hybrid between Assetto Corsa’s sense of weight when making contact between cars, but the manner in which it’s transferred mimics what you see in iRacing; you can get away with a lot before someone is sideways beyond recovery.

With bad drivers, it’s going to be a clusterfuck, but the same could be said of any simulator. What matters here is that in a league format with like-minded players, Forza’s netcode is arguably it’s biggest strength. This is one of the few driving games on the market where you can stick a fender inside a gap that’s inches away from closing, with complete confidence that it won’t ruin either of your races.

From a sim racer’s perspective, the most prominent challenge one must overcome when playing Forza in a semi-competitive manner would be the way the game handles car upgrading and tuning. Everything you’ve learned throughout your time on PC sims effectively goes out the window here, as Forza’s automotive sandbox skews and distorts the playing field in ways that are otherwise extremely difficult for the average sim racer to comprehend. Most PC-oriented guys are familiar with the concept of downloading a mod or jumping into a class of car featured in the vanilla game where all of the entries are for the most part balanced within a second or so. This doesn’t really happen in Forza; the meta-game is first determining what the best cars are for any given rules package laid out by a series organizer, determining exactly what upgrades to apply, and then tuning them in Forza’s rather unconventional garage area.

You can be a great driver, and yet be anywhere from four to six seconds off pace because you made bad decisions before you even got to the race track. It’s interesting when some dare to call Forza a “casual racer” for “console kiddies”, because I certainly wouldn’t deem the above to be casual. This is more thinking and planning than I’ve ever had to do as a sim racer.

Downforce is measured in pounds, not clicks. Brake bias is backwards. Some cars are just generally better without rear wings and front splitters. Locked differentials are preferable regardless of what you’re driving. For next weeks’ race, I’ve discovered selecting Sport tires rather than slicks, and paying careful attention to my car’s overall weight, warrants a two second advantage – otherwise impossible to make up at the Daytona Road Course. Guys have shown up with one thousand horsepower Mazda Miata’s that can’t turn and still completely decimated the field with tires that were a lap away from utterly melting off.  For the more traditional sim racers, it’s very difficult to digest what’s occurring on the screen, and why.

However, when everything goes according to plan and there are four vastly different cars all within a second of each other, that’s when the magic of Forza Motorsport comes to fruition, and it’s why a lot of people still continue to support this franchise. We will probably never have a Formula One simulator that allows us to design our own car from the ground up and embark upon a technological arms race against our friends, but Forza Motorsport’s sandbox gets pretty close to the same idea.

The problem is, right now Turn 10 have stifled it’s growth. As an online platform, Forza Motorsport 7 is great fun – and a little bit frustrating due to some bugs – when played in private against a group of like-minded individuals who are all on the same wave length in terms of what they want from a hole-in-the-wall online league. Yet in jacking the intensity up a notch, Turn 10 have suspiciously removed integral functionalities that would allow this multi-platform racer to continue fostering it’s own online ecosystem.

Hardcore sim racers may not like Forza Motorsport or what it represents, but there are a large portion of gamers who absolutely do, and were quite happy with the way Forza Motorsport 6 was progressing further and further into that realm by the end of it’s status as the primary Forza title. With this new release, Turn 10 left all of this genuinely great stuff on the cutting room floor. In their places? A virtual slot machine, an emphasis on car classes people never really asked for, avatar dress-up, lame pre-order bonuses, and a chunk of the game’s cars hidden away as rewards that some people might not ever obtain.

Only time will tell if this will be rectified for the better.

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Beginning of the End: Forza Prize Crate Videos Have Arrived

According to Turn 10 Studios, the future of sim racing features no racing at all. Since the Ultimate Edition of Forza Motorsport 7 landed in the hands of the general public a few short weeks ago, the prize crate controversy has caused a substantial mutiny among longtime fans of the franchise. While the introduction of virtual gambling elements has at least given those plowing through career mode an alternative avenue in which to spend their in-game currency, Forza 7’s over-reliance on the feature adds nothing but frustration to the overall package, as players are essentially forced to perpetuate a needless cycle of money just to continue progressing through what Forza 7 has to offer. For six iterations and three spin-off titles spanning over a decade, Forza as a series managed just fine without an in-game slot machine, becoming Microsoft’s biggest racing game and a genuine system seller, so fans are understandably choked that a favorite game of theirs has been built from the ground up to capitalize on micro-transactions and the addictive nature in human beings.

Yet fourteen thousand people beg to differ, and that number is only set to climb. Eclipsing the number of people who tuned in live to Formula E’s VISA Vegas eRace earlier this year, not to mention exponentially blowing out the live audience count of any iRacing world championship broadcast over the past five years, would be YouTube personality SlapTrain opening fifteen different prize crates within Forza Motorsport 7 – valued at around three million in-game credits. Clocking in at just under fifteen minutes, the video features zero driving or setup tuning whatsoever (in contrast to his other uploads), but instead remains solely in Forza 7’s front end repeatedly completing a remedial task – opening boxes.

This article isn’t to rip on SlapTrain; instead I’m merely pointing out how he is now one of several YouTube accounts to begin uploading lengthy prize crate videos that essentially glorify virtual gambling in Forza Motorsport 7. Despite launching just over a week ago for those that did not pre-order the Ultimate Edition, searching “Forza 7 Prize Crates” on YouTube now generates 2,500 results of people just sitting at the menu, opening countless boxes that in most cases don’t add anything useful to the actual core game. These people are obsessing over collecting fire suits they’ll rarely see on the track, or acquiring optional profile badges – little icons that appear next to your name in certain screens.

In other words, not playing the game.

Is this the beginning of the end, at least in regards to Forza? Unfortunately, yes it is.

Turn 10 have now succeed in conditioning the average player to believe the on-track experience is secondary in Forza Motorsport 7, instead encouraging them to sit around in a menu blowing their in-game currency on largely meaningless transactions. The allure of buying a Forza Motorsport title and hoping to receive a somewhat robust automotive sandbox that you can mess around in at your leisure has been replaced by a meta-game that just barely skirts the line of what many people will deem to be gambling. Driving, racing, and exploring the history of auto racing as a mad-scientist in a virtual environment is no longer the primary motivation for those who play Forza Motorsport as a franchise; it’s instead just a means to an end – a way to acquire money so you can keep buying more prize crates to open on your shitty YouTube channel.

Short-term, there will still be a handful of people who dig past the atrocious gambling elements and swear up and down that beyond the shady surface, there’s a decent racing game with a lot to offer. But at the moment we’re at a period in the history of auto racing where attendance and overall support of the world’s biggest racing championships are collectively at an all-time low. The future generation of auto racing fans, who would otherwise discover series like IMSA, NASCAR, V8 Supercars, the World Endurance Championship, or Formula One through Forza, will now be given an incentive to skip or dismiss everything Forza is trying to teach them. Enjoying the diverse world of auto racing has taken a back seat to blasting through career mode, trying to amass credits as quickly as possible for just one more prize crate.

Just as it was in Madden, FIFA, and NHL, these prize crate videos will become monetized and expand into their own little ecosystem. Turn 10 will provide prominent personalities with complimentary prize crates to open as a way to artificially train their userbase to value not playing the game; zombies of a virtual casino. Other developers within our genre will begin wanting their piece of the pie and promptly implement them into their own games, no matter how inappropriate their inclusion may be.

Somewhere in the madness, the actual joys of ripping around a track will be lost. And it will come sooner, rather than later.

The Community Assisted Slaughter of Forza Motorsport 7

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?

Well…

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.

My First 24 Hours with Forza Motorsport 7

Parts of the environment will simply not load; your car floating in the abyss as you take a wild guess at the track geometry. The game has a nasty habit of becoming stuck while saving your progress, there’s an issue where wiggling the mouse temporarily causes the game to lose track of your steering wheel inputs, and it has certainly been a while since my PC crashed to desktop – but Forza 7 now holds that honor. A healthy selection of Toyota’s are missing, replaced with far too many useless off-road vehicles considering there are no off-road tracks to drive them on, and though the light RPG elements finally give you something to achieve and work towards compared to the ultra-boring hardcore PC simulators, Forza constantly wants to drag you away from the race track, rather than keep you turning laps. My first twenty four hours with Turn 10’s latest entry in their flagship racing franchise have been fairly perplexing; I’m still having a lot of fun, but I think the Forza fanboys have some explaining to do on their part.

This isn’t a review of any sort, just what I’ve observed from moderate playtime. Forza 7 is just too big and too diverse to rush through in a day and give some sort of final verdict.

As I discussed last week when reviewing the Forza Motorsport 7 Demo, part of me hypothesized that Turn 10 are bundling their cars with downright atrocious default setups, which when combined with abysmal steering wheel settings generated a woefully pathetic driving experience for the end user. Though many elitist sim racers have quickly gone out and shot down Forza 7 as being inferior to the “serious racing simulations”, Forza 7 truly isn’t bad once you take the time to dial in everything, both within the options menu as well as the garage area. It is absolutely essential for any wheel owner to go to the options menu immediately upon booting the game, as the stock values are crafted for pad users and then applied to a steering wheel, not customized specifically for wheel users. It’s actually a mess, the best piece of nerd comedy in sim racing at the moment. There are deadzones where there shouldn’t be deadzones. Linearity is all over the place. Force feedback effects are cranked to the maximum for some inexplicable reason. Brutal, nothing short of brutal.

Once you’ve got that sorted, I found dropping the tire pressures to 1.3 bar, and changing the toe to read -0.2 up front, and +0.1 in the rear warranted a feeling behind the wheel that was miles better than the stock configurations for each car. Setup screens are universal for each car, so how Turn 10 couldn’t ship with a grand total of four sliders that automatically default to very specific tire pressure and toe values is beyond me.

With both of those metaphorical train wrecks out of the way, the aspect of least concern in regards to Forza Motorsport 7 ends up being the driving model, which truthfully handles like a third party Assetto Corsa mod from a community team showing promise, but still obviously refining their craft. No, the force feedback isn’t anything to write home about, but the tire model exhibits very familiar sensations when pitted against other PC sims, and those dismissing Forza 7 as a game that “plays better with a pad”, or has been “dumbed down for a mainstream audience” are just flat-out hypocritical at this point.

Behind the wheel, Forza Motorsport 7 is a middle-of-the-road Assetto Corsa mod. If you sit around downloading random shit for Assetto Corsa – whether it be from sketchy Russian sites or mods that have received word-of-mouth praise – yet turn your nose up at Forza Motorsport for being a “game for kiddies”, this is where you’re made to look like an elitist prick. I don’t think what Turn 10 are doing under the hood of Forza’s physics engine warrants some of the harsh comments they routinely receive from the sim racing community, they’re just really fucking retarded for making us dig to find that experience we’re looking for in the first place. That’s where you should be directing your outrage in my opinion. As a customer I don’t want to sit and troubleshoot your game, I want to play starting the moment I load up the application. Turn 10 instead make you go on a scavenger hunt to unfuck all of the default settings.

It also calls into question the enormous number of positive reviews from mainstream outlets, as from a sim racing perspective, Forza 7 is borderline unplayable if you just sort of boot the game and jump into a race without configuring anything – as most of the mainstream reviewers are prone to doing.

Where Forza 7 falters is not out on the track, but in the progression built around the act of racing. The Forza Motorsport franchise has always been billed as a sort of CARPG, and I’m familiar with the series so obviously I knew what I was getting into beforehand, but Forza 7 is really the first iteration where Turn 10 make it clear that they don’t want you spending too much time out on the racing surface. And I find this pretty strange

Forza 7 is an auto racing simulator created for people who don’t like auto racing or simulators. I was stoked, absolutely stoked, to discover the first car I’d be driving in Forza 7 was Dan Gurney’s 1967 Eagle, because unlike those a bit older than me, the traditional grind seen in Gran Turismo just doesn’t cut it in 2017. Yet it felt like I’d just gotten the tires warm on the mighty Grand Prix Legends-era deathtrap – which drove quite well and is what a lot of simmers have wanted out of a virtual ’67 F1 car – before I was whisked away to drive something else, showered with prize cars, perk cards, numerous XP bars to monitor, and other miscellaneous distractions. Don’t get me wrong, I like the “gamey” aspect of Forza, precisely why I bought the Ultimate Edition with my monthly WordPress ad money deposit, but from a gameplay mechanics standpoint I felt like there was more external bullshit to worry about when stacked against how much time I was spending out on the track. It felt out of proportion.

I was ecstatic to progress a bit further into the campaign and get my hands on the modern NASCAR entries seen in Forza 7 – again, they handle surprisingly well – but my excitement was short lived as the game put just two laps on the board for a championship round at Road America. Maybe I’m just not the intended audience for this game, and maybe there are some people out there who think this is a “long” race given the length of Elkhart Lake, but Godddamn, there have been some league races where I’ve easily surpassed the 300 lap mark in mid-week testing. One flying lap at Road America isn’t a race; it’s not even a Denny’s sampler meal. So as a result, you’re forced to liberally interpret track limits or use other cars as your brakes to progress on higher difficulty levels, because you have zero time to reel in opponents the natural way.

Forza doesn’t seem to care if you play the game this way, which explains the outright lack of talent in online lobbies. There are a mammoth number of people playing Forza, many who list it as their favorite game period, but none of them are very good drivers because the game simply doesn’t ask them to be.

There are options to increase the length of every career mode race, though your progression through the campaign mode will slow to a crawl. There is no extra incentive to jack up the duration of each event save for monetary rewards. For example, I’m in the process of going through the six race V8 Supercars championship, and aside from slightly increased earnings, Forza doesn’t really care that I’m spending much more time out on the track than the average user. It’s just artificially making the game longer; I’m still required to complete at least three championships before moving onto the next tier, though whereas some people could get this done in an hour of light play, I’m putting in four hours for the same result. That’s a bit lame.

And then the game whisks you away to explain the concept of your car collecting level, driver level rewards, and the racing suits you can win via what’s essentially hockey card collecting. It never once stops to contemplate that maybe you might actually be having fun out on the race track, and could go for a much longer event. In the first tier of six, which is how career mode is structured, you have the option of partaking in an hour-long endurance race at Spa in a field of GTE cars, but the paltry payout of this one-off race discourages you from attempting it in the first place – shorter events offer a bigger monetary payout, and you’ll probably just win the Corvette C7.R a few races later, anyways. As I made my way up through the tiers in career mode, I was surprised to discover that more of these enduro challenges were not waiting for me – I would have to make them myself in Free Race mode. Yes, creating your own endurance event still allows you to earn sizeable cash, XP, and rewards, but I kind of miss the big screen in Forza 6 that was littered with things like the Nurburgring 125, or the Homestead 300. That was my shit. It’s not here. I am sad.

What I’m not sad about, are the improvements Turn 10 have made to Forza’s in-game economy in the form of “loot crates.” In fact I’d actually call this one of Forza 7’s biggest improvements despite it being lifted from a whole bunch of other games. Now somebody actually linked me to this ArsTechnica article explaining how in-game gambling is shitty and the world is going to end now that it’s in Forza of all places, but in practice I’ve actually enjoyed what this has brought to the game. Forza as a franchise has traditionally suffered from a weird end-game phase, in which you’ve earned tons of prize money but have very little to spend it on aside from allowing your OCD to run wild and purchase every last car that captivates your imagination. The introduction of prize crates has effectively given you another valid avenue to spend your earnings.Basically, there are a couple of different prize crates of varying prices you can buy with the in-game credits you’ve earned, and these just sort of give you random shit, like pricey vehicles, special tuned variants of stock cars already in the game, unique racing suits, and the almighty “mods” – which are just bonuses you can activate for prize money/XP boosts provided you complete the listed task.

While some may kick and scream at the the thought of this stuff appearing in a racing game, such as playing a card that gives you a 40% winnings bonus for driving without ABS, what this does is ensure that your money doesn’t pool as it did in previous games. So far I’ve enjoyed the dynamic of saving up a couple hundred thousand, and then distributing it evenly among cars, upgrades, and prize crates. Yes, you’re spending money to make money, but in Forza 7’s case this actually helps extend the lifespan of the title. It’s essentially a mock operational cost of your fictional race team, as you are always dipping into your account just a little bit to re-stock mods, attempting to attain new racing suits for a cosmetic change, or hoping to acquire a rare car to boost your collector level. The Ars Technica guy claims that this may get out of control when Turn 10 introduce the ability to buy these crates with real money, but even the most expensive crates at the moment can be easily attained by playing the game normally. If you’re smart enough to stack your mod cards and understand the meta-game, only the idiot kids with mommy’s credit card will fall into this trap of paying real money for prize crates.

Though I began this article by listing some of the problems I’ve had with Forza Motorsport 7, there are two in particular I’d like to elaborate upon, because I think they deserve a deeper explanation.

First, there are an enormous amount of filler cars that just don’t deserve a spot on the roster because you’ll simply never use them. Yes, there are over seven hundred cars to select from at launch, so maybe I’m blowing things out of proportion, but I was pretty shocked at just how many vehicles I didn’t particularly care for. The game ships with six or seven off-road trophy trucks by default, carry-overs from Forza Horizon that are ridicuously out of place here considering there are precisely zero off-road tracks to speak of, and no stadium super-truck layouts with metal ramps placed in the center of the circuit. Early on in career mode you have the pleasure of taking part in a small championship with these vehicles, and it’s bloody intolerable.

Many Global Rallycross cars also appear, but I am under the impression they are a throwback of sorts to Gran Turismo, as Polyphony loaded their PlayStation driving simulator with numerous rally cars from Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Subaru, with the best car in the game being none other than Suzuki’s Pikes Peak Escudo. Other vehicles also struggle to find their place within Forza 7’s ecosystem; the Formula E cars are dreadful to drive – and every livery counts as its own separate vehicle – with the game sending these cars to Daytona as one last giant fuck you to anyone dumb enough to believe this series is somehow exciting. There are also some giant trucks on the roster, the same vehicles you may remember from the ultra-obscure Formula Truck simulator by Reiza Studios. They too feel out of place, and will most likely never be touched aside from the YouTube personalities who will inevitably use them as clickbait in their videos.

Fortunately, there are over seven hundred other cars to select from. Aside from Toyota products. I don’t even like Japanese shit, but Toyota almost completely missing aside from a few off-road trucks and three NASCAR entries is a big deal. Pray for a Toyota expansion. A NASCAR with Camry XSE stickers doesn’t count, and I say that as a NASCAR fan.

The AI have also caused some problems during my first day with Forza Motorsport 7. This is a weird one to elaborate upon as like Project CARS 2, they vary in quality based on what you’re driving. In full-bodied vehicles, I actually think the AI on either Pro or Unbeatable are extremely competent and a lot of fun to race against. I look forward to completing career mode and continuing to set up my own races at my leisure without the two lap sprints requiring me to knock them around, because this is the kind of single player experience a lot of sim racers have been demanding from their developer of choice.

The problems start when you bust out the open wheel cars – of which there are several – and run in giant packs, which the AI are prone to doing. Unlike Grand Prix Legends, where open wheel cars shear off entire suspensions and go flying into the woods under moderate or heavy contact, Forza 7 doesn’t model any of this. Open wheel cars commonly become hooked together and create massive, track-blocking incidents that are basically unavoidable. The Formula Ford championship I completed earlier this evening took almost three hours to finish off, because the opening lap cluster routinely generated situations that you simply cannot steer out of once you enter another vehicle’s personal space.

There’s a lot left for me to cover in regards to Forza Motorsport 7 as it’s just such a colossal game, but those have been my thoughts at the conclusion of the first day with the Ultimate Edition. I do think the game deserves a bit of flak from the sim community, but I feel it’s been directed at the wrong aspects. Out on the race track, Forza 7 feels pretty familiar – even if exhibits vehicle dynamics on-par with a mid-range Assetto Corsa mod, this isn’t exactly a bad thing. My own personal gripes with the software have more to do with just how little racing you actually partake in compared to the copious array of RPG elements eating up every last loading screen, and the brutal default settings that appear as if nobody from Turn 10 plays racing games with a steering wheel.

Once you unfuck their lack of foresight, Forza 7 is an entertaining diversion from the hardcore no-fun-allowed simulators you usually play, and I’m looking to dig deeper into it over the next few weeks as the title evolves.

I Didn’t Enjoy the Forza 7 Demo

Let me first start by saying I greatly appreciate Turn 10’s gesture in bringing the seventh iteration of their massively popular car collecting software to the home computer – turning what was once an Xbox exclusive into a multi-platform release – as game developers typically don’t do this sort of thing. I also want to mention that I’ve extracted an enormous amount of playtime from the series on the Xbox 360, back when the franchise was arguably at its peak.

And while some scoffed at the release of Forza: Horizon in 2012, and questioned if the right creative decisions were being made on that front, I was what you could call an early supporter of the dudebro spin-off; I held a few opening week records – including the world record on the final boss romp for a short period of time – and played Horizon far beyond completion, almost excessively. Hell, I bought the complete rip-off known as the Horizon Rally expansion and flew through the reconfigured map in just under ninety minutes, so it’s safe to say that I wasn’t going into the Forza 7 demo with any kind of negative bias. If anything, I’ve been advocating for more of these experiences to come to the PC.

But contextually, Forza Motorsport 7 is probably the worst driving game I’ve ever played. Sure, maybe Monster Truck Rumble is objectively a lesser product, but going into it, you knew it would be bad. What’s Forza 7’s excuse? I just don’t understand how a mammoth quasi-first party team with a gigantic budget and near-infinite resources can create something that absolutely does not resemble what it’s like to drive a real car at competition speeds. I have been more entertained at the mainstream pieces drooling over the Forza 7 demo than actually playing the game itself; Forza is not a simulator or even a competent driving game in the first place, but rather a litmus test to see who actually understands vehicle dynamics, and which gaming journalists take the bus to work. I had genuine hopes that Forza 7 arriving on the PC would shake up our genre and offer a valid alternative to the bore-fests that are polluting sim racing at the moment, but Turn 10 really dropped the ball.

So to give you a cliff’s notes version of all multi-day race car driving schools across the planet, any sort of good race car driver that is routinely seen at the front of the pack in their respective classes essentially pilots their car in a very similar manner. They come barrelling into corner entry until they physically worry about their inability to stop, jump on the brakes as hard as possible to both rotate the ass end of the car & set the vehicle on the bottom of the track at the apex (my entire left leg vibrates in our car), and then as quickly as possible, feed the rear tires enough throttle to pivot the car on the outside rear tire. Provided you exhibit the correct amount of throttle aggression in relation to the radius of the corner, corner exit can be completed with a nearly straight steering wheel because you’re basically steering with your right foot and pivoting the car like an athlete planting his foot to make a cut until you achieve full throttle. This is how I drive in real life. This is how I drive in hardcore sims, if not most racing games. This is why I’m fast in basically every piece of software with cars in it. This is a universal competition driving style that crosses continents and disciplines and realities. There, saved you $3,000, if not more.

There’s even a good quote from Tanner Foust on this same subject.

tanner foust.jpg

Forza 7’s problem is that none of this works. And if this was like, a Steam game for $19.99 in Early Access, then yeah, fine, I probably wouldn’t give a shit. But this is Forza Motorsport, the simulator with over seven hundred cars, more tracks than we know what to do with, and the unofficial title of being Gran Turismo’s spiritual successor – as even GT fans can’t quite figure out what Kaz is doing with the franchise that started this whole car collection phenomenon. Oh, and there’s the Porsche partnership, the Pirelli partnership, and even Ford stepped in a while back. I don’t understand how you have this much access to technical data, and the end result is so disconnected and abstract.

First, weight transfer and inertia in Forza is exponentially greater than what you experience in real life. Yes, if you’re unready for the G-Forces or have been out of the car for some time, it can be a bit disorienting at first to launch the car into a braking zone, but it’s 100% a human thing – the car itself remains relatively stable provided you’re not a complete fucking retard and panic with jerky wheel and pedal inputs. The Porsche GT2RS offered in one of the three demo races does not feel like an ultra-refined track day warrior that Christian Grey might take to the Nordschleife when he’s ran out of hotties to abuse, but rather has the stability and precision of a Ford Transit Van. In any heavy braking zone, or drastic elevation changes for that matter that predominantly load up one side of the car – of which there are a lot at the Dubai canyon track – the car just fucking snaps into the trademark molasses drift Forza is known for.

It’s like driving an EnduRacers mod, where the car swings wildly about at the slightest of undulations or wheel inputs or… basically anything that isn’t a straight line, but unlike their notoriously bizarre rFactor 2 mods, you can’t rely on the tires to catch you here. I have never played a racing game where the tires have such an absurdly low limit of adhesion as what’s exhibited in Forza 7. You can be coasting through an uphill corner at 70 km/h in second gear, feet completely off both pedals, and the rear end will just wash out into a skid that makes you look completely incompetent behind the wheel. There is no sidewall flex. There is no lateral grip. It’s a very distinct on/off switch between adhesion, and hitting phantom black ice. This is how Forza thinks tires work, but I can assure you that this is not how they work in the real world, nor in most other simulators worth your time. So the whole competition driving technique of loading up the outside rear tire and powering off with a bit of counter-steer is completely out of the question.

Whether you’re driving the Porsche GT2RS around Dubai, or the SuperGT-spec Nissan R35 at the Nurburgring GP circuit, what ends up happening is that you pussy-foot around at much slower speeds than what these cars are capable of, under-driving to such an extent that any prolonged period of play is going to actively diminish your skill set when it comes to other simulators. I’m under the impression that Forza’s physics engine was designed with pad users in mind, basically as a way to encourage teenagers and casuals to play it safe and focus on smooth driving lines. In the hands of someone armed with a steering wheel and real world competition driving experience, it is objectively the worst driving game on the market. Cars don’t drive like this. Tires don’t work like this.

I look forward to the Metacritic aggregate of 95 it will undoubtedly receive come October, from guys who either take the bus to work, or whose previous driving experience can be listed as “I play Mario Kart as a drinking game with my old college friends when we meet up.”

So I think a lot of Forza fanboys will kick and scream that my wheel wasn’t configured correctly. Actually, I spent the first hour or so with the game fiddling with the options menu, and above are my G29 settings to give people a very good indication as to what in my opinion feels sensible behind the wheel. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about Forza’s force feedback over the years, but to give this game a proper shakedown I worked to find settings that were optimal for me. Obviously I would like to know why a monolithic company with hundreds of employees are shipping a game with default steering wheel settings that are completely unusable and might be the source of several refunds for the more casual racers among us, but I felt I was able to get something that felt right with the tools at hand – so I’ve provided my personal configuration to ensure as few people get stuck as possible. Again, my complaints are with the physics engine itself. Even with a wheel configuration that I found to be perfect, I just didn’t enjoy the actual on-track experience. It was fucking terrible.

It’s also noteworthy to mention that nowhere in the demo are you allowed to fiddle with car setups. Yet while the Forza fans may crucify me for ripping on default setups that are notoriously bad, and maybe the game becomes infinitely better once garage options are opened up, the question needs to be asked why a team of such high caliber insist on packaging their cars with setups that are completely preposterous and actively work against one’s enjoyment of the game. Either the crew behind Forza have precisely zero idea as to what’s needed for an enjoyable end-user experience from the word go, or as mentioned earlier, the physics just flat-out suck. I will gamble and say it’s the latter of the two.

And while I was already choked to discover such an abysmal driving experience, the marketing department really competed for the focus of my attention during the inevitable tirade that would be published on PRC. The restart race button has actually been excluded from the demo, meaning that the process of me physically testing out different wheel settings – and then taking a journey back to the options menu after only a few turns – was increased by an exponentially large amount.

Once you’ve either finished or outright quit an event, the game plays a semi-unskippable cinematic sequence displaying the plethora of awards Forza 7 won during E3 2017 of this year, and running down a list of supporting features before finally giving you the option to dismiss it all about fifteen to twenty seconds later. Of course, you’re not even thrown directly back to the menu so you can continue to fuck with your wheel settings and repeat the process ad nauseam, you’re then taken to a screen in which you’re given the option of pre-ordering one of the three variants of Forza 7. This was absolutely painful to sit through.

And maybe it would have been acceptable if behind the wheel, Forza 7 was pretty competent, and didn’t require a solid hour of tweaking. My problem is that I’m forced to watch a game brag about awards that I personally didn’t understand how it received in the first place. In my almost twenty years of PC sim racing, some titles have come unbelievably close to what it’s like to drive in a competitive setting. Forza Motorsport 7, by comparison, is the furthest from reality I have ever experienced. I still think a lot of people will have some fun with it for the light RPG and car collecting aspects, and that’s fine. But after my time with the demo, anyone who honestly sits down and tries to say Forza 7 is anywhere near realistic, or drives anything like an actual car, is an actual idiot. I fail to understand how there’s this much money and hype pumped into what’s basically a first-party Xbox title at this point, only for the on-track product to be so farcical.