It’s not every day that you get to be present for a major shift in convention, I was fortunate enough to be just right of center stage when Xbox did that very thing, unveiling the brand new 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS along with their announcement of Forza Motorsport 7 at Microsoft’s E3 press event. This kind of reveal is normally reserved for a major car show, and a deviation of this magnitude proves that, despite being a series focused entirely around cars, Forza is making waves. A few days later, I settled in a meeting room with with the Forza crew to get a first look at what the newly announced Forza Motorsport 7 has under the hood.
“This is the best looking game we’ve ever made,” our host proudly announced. “We developed it for the new Xbox One X, and we’ve really tried to reimagine this entire game.” Every detail of each car has been examined, rethought and improved, from the textures on the interior of each car, to the way the mirrors, steering wheel, and even the windshield wipers shake and vibrate violently at the high speeds on the race track, making being behind the wheel not only look realistic, but creating an intense and visceral experience. Reimagined from the ground up, the team used photogram technology to import photos of both cars and tracks in order to bring in an entirely new level of realism to the game. Dynamic weather systems means that road and lighting conditions can change in real time, skies and shadows change throughout the race, making the tracks a little different every time you drive them.
The conversation quickly turned back to the Porsche. Forza has entered into a six year exclusive partnership with Porsche, a partnership which allowed them to make the 911 GT2 RS reveal, and will also be holding a Forza Motorsport championship at LeMand. The winners of this championship will be announced and crowned at this historic racetrack, bringing some of the biggest racing fans that much closer to the real experience.
The Forza Motorsport 7 team put a huge focus on reducing the amount of time players waste sitting in menus and lobbies. Keeping the rubber to the road, the new interactive loading system allows players to change their car, do tuneups, and even customize their drivatar (more on that in a moment) all without leaving the track. For the first time in Forza, the driver has been removed from the cockpit, and you will be able to customize your avatar–the aforementioned drivatar–with over 300 different driver suits, ranging from futuristic NASA-esque gear to retro leather helmets from the earliest days of motorsports. Players will be able to chose between both male and female drivatars, and will be able to check out the gear and car of other drives while waiting for matches. With over 700 cars and the ability to customize your favorite car with a paint job, custom wheels, and the addition of your own custom drivatar, it has never been easier to capture your unique racing style.
Even better for PC gamers, Forza Motorsport 7 has an unlocked framerate and now has multi USB support. “You can play this with anything. I played it on a Guitar Hero guitar, and the Rock Band drumset,” our host announced with a laugh. “I was terrible, obviously I didn’t win, but the point is, no matter what you want to play with with, if you plug it into a PC, you can play it.” If you insist on playing on a sub-optimal controller, or if you’re just not a naturally gifted driver, the game may suggest an assist. The game itself is smart enough to be able to identify driver weaknesses and suggest changes to help you keep pace. Longtime fans of the Forza series have even more reason to be excited: content from Forza Motorsport 6 and Forza Horizon 3 will carry over from both Xbox and PC.
As our session came to an end, we caught a brief glimpse of a rather interesting menu option: Limo bowling. When we asked our host what on earth that menu option was, he simply laughed. “It’s exactly what it sounds like. If we have to explain what limo bowling is to you, then we’ve done something wrong.” Forza Motorsport 7 will be coming to Xbox One and PC on October 3rd, and Xbox One X sometime in November. We can expect many more announcements and reveals at Gamescon. In the meantime, check out Ron’s review of Forza Horizon 3, which he awarded perfect score.