Hands-on: First impressions of Forza Motorsport 7

Normally when Forza Motorsport launch a new edition of their successful franchise, it dominates the gaming landscape, but this year the competition has never been tougher with F1 2017,...

Normally when Forza Motorsport launch a new edition of their successful franchise, it dominates the gaming landscape, but this year the competition has never been tougher with F1 2017, Project Cars 2 and WRC7 all launching recently. This year the developers needed to step up their game and boy have they, Forza 7 is ridiculous good looking and easily the best visually of any racing game I’ve played so far. Its the attention to detail in the environments that’s so nuts it’ll often distract you, but then again, so will the glaring sunset or reflection off the water on the track. The cars are also visual rock stars and even the natural walking movement of humans seems life-like during intro scenes. Pat on the back Turn 10 Studios, your hard work really has paid off.

Available for both Xbox and PC right now, the PC edition is available in 4K, which will soon also come to the Xbox One X. While an upscaled 1080p looks great on the 65″ Samsung Q7F hanging on my lounge room wall, if you want the best quality today, you’ll play on PC with a very recent video card. On the PC version, there’s a benchmark mode, uncapped framerate and support for 21:9 displays.

A tip for those that get Forza 7 on PC and don’t yet have a 4K monitor. Forza 7 lets you run the game at 4K, even if your display is only 1080p. This is incredibly rare, but as we know from movies, providing the display with the best source content possible results in a better looking image, despite the actual pixel count being displayed, still being 1920×1080. This is awesome and something I wish more games did. In a few years when 4K displays are everywhere, this won’t matter, but as we got through these few transition years, its definitely a nice feature.

The game is 100GB in size, the largest I’ve ever downloaded and on the Xbox, I had to delete plenty of older titles to make room. Hopefully you’ve got a great internet connection, you’ll need it.

As for the game itself, you start out by racing through the first 3 races that were offered in the recently released Forza 7 demo. If you’re like me and played the demo a fair bit, this process is one you wish you could skip as you already have good handle on how the different vehicles handle and perform. For new players its fine, but enthusiasts really should have an option to skip.

With a 5AM rise this morning, I’ve spent time with both the Xbox controller and the Logitech G920 steering wheel and pedals as the inputs for driving. Obviously if you’re half-way serious, get a wheel and pedal because pretending you’re driving these cars (many of which you’ll never drive in real life) is a metric bucket load of fun.

Only with the precision of the wheel and pedal with force feedback and rumble can you feel the updated physics engine in Forza 7. Personally I still think cars break traction and release that awful screeching sound effect far too easily. While you’re going much faster than we do in road cars, vehicles often don’t have the same feeling of weight when you drive them. In terms of taking corners, either racing or drifting, I feel connected with the car and acceleration seems to feel more realistic and give drivers a better sense of moving at high-speed.

With the Hoonigan Racing DLC, I was able to jump behind the wheel of Ken Block’s ridiculous 1,400bhp Hoonicorn Mustang V2. As you’d expect, with all the assists turned off, its ludicrously easy to break traction and if you’re pulling the gears on down the straight, it hauls some serious ass. It took a fair bit of practice, but it is possible to master this beast and get it sliding sideways with style.

Forza 7 features more than 700 cars, more than any other racing title, so your chances of having diverse, interesting races is really high. The chances of you being able to jump into the cars you love or even own, are also high. Thankfully Forza (unlike many others) does feature an upgrade system, so the stock car isn’t the end of the story. There’s not a lot new in either the workshop or the livery editor that I’ve found so far.

Forzavista now happens with cars in real environments, like the pit garage of circuits. While it may not seem like much, its a nice change of location, as the game tries to get closer to reflecting real life, we don’t view cars in perfectly lit, infinite spaces. Unfortunately Forza 7 doesn’t support Nvidia’s awesome in-game camera system, Ansel, used for export high-res images or even 360 panoramas. Given the detail on offer here, its a real shame, and something I hope is added at a later date.

In terms of vehicle highlights, right off the bat, I went searching for Supercars and found the new Holden, Falcon and Nissan are in the game. Frustratingly there’s once again only 4 or 5 team liveries to choose from and we’ll again have to rely on the community building ones for the rest of the grid. I was really surprised to see a team like Red Bull Racing not featured. As we approach the Bathurst 1000 weekend next week, many hours this weekend will be spent cutting laps around Mount Panorama in a Supercar.

Cars are unlocked in tiers as you accumulate more racing experience. In one of the higher tiers you’ll find a couple of updated 2017 Formula E cars. This means a new, more powerful Formula E racing category is now possible. Along with new racing types the driver gets more focus in Forza 7 with unlocks allowing you to kit out your driver in a variety of race suits and helmets. While these don’t affect your racing, it does give you a collectible to keep coming back for.

The game will drop you right into Career mode, but after you complete the first 3 races, you can get to the main menu and select online or Free Play options, as well as manage the cars in your garage. It’s not as easy as it should be to go find a track and race on, instead you choose your car in Free Play, then have to choose the race type, its just an awkward step that needs to be improved. In the interface it looks like you can simply press down to select a track, but you can’t – annoying.

Probably my biggest complaint is something almost every racing game gets wrong. When you crazy a racing car, the glass windows should not smash. Race cars use perspex or plastic composite and have done for years for safety, yet no game, even Forza 7, seems to reflect this.

One of my favourite features to return to Forza 7 is the ability to race in split screen with a friend, on the same console. That dissapeared after Forza 5 and I’m really glad to see it back. While we all game a lot more with friends online at our own houses, there’s times (like Bathurst weekend) where you want to race against your mates and Split Screen allows that.

In terms of weather and lighting, the game does really well with lightning effects, making it feel like you’re really driving in a storm. I’ve never felt that before and it’s a real delight. The rain effects on the windscreen and dispersion from the wiper sweep is all pretty standard affair now, but its the variable pooling of water on the track surface that makes driving incredibly difficult. Aquaplaning on slicks will quickly teach you about the appropriate tyre selection for the conditions.

There’s a full review of Forza Motorsport 7 on the way, but for now, I thought its important to detail my thoughts so far. Final thoughts are that the visuals are absolutely fantastic, the handling model is good, but needs work on braking and I’ll be spending the best part of this weekend behind the wheel.

Game features like Auction House, Forzathon events, and Leagues are listed as Coming Soon in the menus.

More information at https://www.forzamotorsport.net

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Gaming

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.