18 years since the original came out, this is the eighth iteration of the ‘simcade’ racer, and serves as a reboot of the series (in case you were confused by the lack of ‘8’ in the name).
Ahead of the game’s full release on Xbox Series consoles and PC from 10 October, we’ve been putting the hours into the early access version of the game. Here are eight things we love about the game, and one we really don’t…
You can set your own place on the grid
There’s no traditional qualifying in Forza’s single player (you will find it in multiplayer), rather you manually pick your own starting spot ahead of a race.
Dubbed ‘Challenge the Grid’, this is a great way to artificially make your race harder and in turn gaining some extra rewards if you make it onto the podium. Equally, if you fancy making life a little more relaxing and away from turn one chaos, you can position yourself anywhere up to third place.
Fuel loads are now adjustable, plus you can change your tyre compounds
Along with Forza’s traditional in-depth tuning systems, you’ve also got the option to set your fuel load ahead of a race.
Naturally, less fuel means less weight, and theoretically quicker lap times. If you equip race tyres, you can now also select different compounds along with a dedicated wet tyre - adding a bit more strategy to your racing.
Key corners have individual timing zones
In the new-to-Forza pre-race practice sessions, select corners feature dedicated timing gates.
These work similar to the sister-title Horizon’s speed zones, but here they track your time between each gate rather than your outright speed. This gives you an idea of where you can gain lap time, as well as brushing up your knowledge of famous corners (think 130R, Eau Rouge and, erm, Hyundai N Kurve?)
Online now features a safety rating
There’s no ignoring the fact Forza’s multiplayer has traditionally been akin to a demolition derby. With a safety score system in the new game though, this should hopefully be a thing of the past - provided you keep your racing clean.
The system matches you with players with similar etiquette and, in our testing, it works pretty well. There’s also ‘Skill Score’ - which as the name suggests, ranks you on your ability. Xbox 360 veterans may remember a similar ‘TrueSkill’ ranking on early Forzas which aimed to do a similar job.
Each car can have its own force feedback tuning
This is a small, but significant addition for those of us out there racing on wheels. Each car can have its force feedback settings individually tuned, meaning you don’t have to constantly tweak the on-wheel or general in-game settings to get the right feel.
Forzavista returns as the best virtual car showroom
Forzavista is nothing new to the franchise - it’s been in every version of the game since Motorsport 4 - but it’s always nice to see.
If you’re not familiar, think of it as a virtual car showroom. You can get really up close with every car in the game, prod around in the interior and in the case of most cars, even have a look at the engine.
It’s a shame Motorsport 4’s slick narration by Jeremy Clarkson continues to be left in the past, though.
Free play will let you race anything, with loads of customisable settings
A structured career mode is a nice thing, but what if you want to race any of the game's 500+ cars in any setting your heart desires?
Free play covers this. You can drive any car in Forza, even the ones you don’t own, on any track available. On top of that, there’s a myriad of settings to play with - lap count, weather, if track limits are on or not and exactly which kind of cars you’re racing against amongst loads of other bits.
Console users can choose their own graphic settings
Graphics settings have always been a thing on PC, but to console gamers, being able to choose how your games look is still quite a new thing.
For those playing on either an Xbox Series S and X, Forza Motorsport lets you do that. We’ve been playing on a Series X, with the choice of Performance (targeting 60fps and 4K resolution), Performance RT (targeting 60fps and a lower resolution, but adding ray tracing to the mix and Graphics (targeting 4K with ray tracing, but dropping to 30fps).
In our testing, Performance RT seems to offer the right mix of looking good and running smoothly.
Some car models should’ve been left behind…
Generally, Forza’s car models look incredibly detailed and fantastic - be that stationary or heading down the Mulsanne straight at 200mph.
However, quality isn’t consistent across the board and it’s hard to ignore. Some car models have remained in use in the game since the very original Forza Motorsport in 2005, long before incredibly accurate laser scanning was a thing. Sure, they’ve had their textures scaled up and extra polygons thrown into the mix in a bid to keep them looking fresh as each game’s graphics have improved, but a few are now sticking out like sore thumbs.
Most notably, these include the Nissan Silvia S15 and R32 Skyline GT-R, which look like crudely drawn caricatures of the real things. Most people won’t notice, but for the true car nerds, it’s proving quite a sore topic.