Update (Nov 16th 2017): Features loot boxes (called prize crates) that can be purchased with real money. AKA: gambling mechanics.
The Christmas tree flickers on; the light at the top shines…
The hot and humid air encompassing the Road Atlanta track is overbearing. You’re sweating in your racing gear. Air conditioning would just sap power that could be used to overtake an opponent.
You rev your engine, preparing for launch. You stare down the driver next to you. He looks at you, and nods.
You grip the wheel with white-knuckled fury. You rev your engine again, your chassis churning under the torque. The overcast is already settling in, and you can tell the vapor in the air is going to be stolen from the sky soon.
The green light pierces your windshield. You drop the hammer and your tires scramble for something to grip to.
The Forza Motorsport series is all about the track. There aren’t any frills of tearing around an open world. Just taking your car to the track and trying to steal the podium.
Describing the gameplay of Forza Motorsport 7 may seem easy, but like with other games in the series and the spinoff series, Forza Horizon, the way the game handles depends heavily on what sort of help you allow yourself. Playing with various assistance will deliver an arcade experience.
Not sure what course to take on turns? Leave the suggested lines option on, which shows when and where to accelerate and brake. Don’t want to worry about shifting? Make every car have an automatic transmission. Tired of losing traction in puddles on wet tracks? Enable friction assist to make your car handle the same in any conditions.
Of course, the opposite is true. If you’re wanting a simulation-style experience, do what I do, and turn everything off. It makes the races significantly more challenging, and infinitely more interesting. While playing with more assists on is certainly easier, it doesn’t mean it will guarantee a win. You can accelerate much quicker if you use manual shifting. You can cut corners closer if you disable steering assistance. ABS makes braking less perilous, but means you’ll be taking corners more slowly.
All this means is that skilled players can do well without the assists on, but it’s a risk-reward situation. I myself have yet to stop using the rewind feature… Yes, I’m still a noob.
One good change is that Turn 10 even allows players to alter the length of races for the career mode, which is a welcome alteration. Shorter races take less time after all, but longer races give you more opportunities to take the lead, or lose it.
Of course, those difficulty changes have one caveat this time around: they don’t increase your payouts or experience rewards anymore. It’s a bit of a disappointment that you won’t be getting increased rewards that way now, but at the very least, increasing the Drivatar difficulty gives out extra cash. Payouts do come in many different ways though. Forza Hub membership gives you hundreds of thousands of credits on a regular basis, and with mods applied to your races, you can increase payouts by a large amount.
Ah, mods. They’ve been around since Forza Motorsport 6, but they have a much larger presence in the newest entry. Mods are awarded for opening prize boxes (they’re loot boxes), but prize boxes offer more than just mods. You can get anything from racing suits to cars also, though mods will provide the biggest bang for your buck. Each mod changes a small aspect of the race you’re competing in, whether it’s the time of day of the race, or disabling the HUD. Mods that drastically increase the difficulty of the race also result in bigger bonuses.
Interestingly, collecting cars has a much larger purpose in Forza Motorsport 7, with rarer vehicles increasing the inherent value of your garage and expanding your options as far as access to more races goes. Some cars are also gated behind your collection score, meaning that, for some vehicles, you need to have a decent garage. Some vehicles can only be acquired after meeting certain criteria, though those vehicles can be unlocked via prize boxes or by completing the career mode.
If anything though, Forza is really about collecting cars, so isn’t that the point?
It wouldn’t be a Forza game without showing off some impressive visuals and unique car noises. Forza Motorsport 7 does that in spades. While there haven’t been any drastic advancements in visual splendor, the minor improvements do make a difference.
Turn 10 has taken the weather effects from Forza Motorsport 6 and Forza Horizon 2 and ramped things up to show off dynamic weather and differing track conditions. Races can begin in the daytime with a dry track, and conditions can deteriorate into a full downpour while the sun sets.
Now, I’m not saying that Forza Motorsport 7 doesn’t look amazing, because it does. Cars look damn-near realistic, and shadows are cast behind cars as headlights shine on them. Reflections off of the sheen of a vehicle’s paint and the way the sun creates a glare of your dashboard in your windshield just adds to the immersion, and are just as distracting as you would suspect.
That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t look cool though.
To say that Forza Motorsport 7 is an entirely new experience would be a lie at best. What has been added to the series with this installment has been a renewed focus on delivering a better feel to the career mode and additional customization options with mods and your driver’s appearance.
That’s right, your driver now has an appearance that you can change at will. After selecting whether your driver is male or female, you can choose between any of the racing suits you’ve unlocked. Of course, chances are that you wouldn’t have unlocked anything at this point besides the original suit, but if you invest in some prize crates, you’ll surely get a couple cool threads.
Of course, then you’re also inviting gambling into your game. Those prize crates will eventually be monetized (you may be reading this at that point), which means you can have the wonderful opportunity to spend real money on a chance for cool stuff.
What else is provided by Forza Motorsport 7 is just… more. There are more cars, tracks, and customization options. Mods play a bigger role in the newest game, but at the cost of Assists playing less of a role. There’s little incentive to turning off things like Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) or enabling simulation damage, tire wear, and fuel usage; though the rewards for playing against more skilled opponents has been increased.
Forza Motorsport 7 also introduces the term “homologate” to players, which basically means that each car is automatically updated to match the performance index of your competitors as closely as possible, taking much of the guesswork out of making sure your car is competitive in each race.
STORY AND MULTIPLAYER
Perhaps the largest change to the Forza Motorsport formula has been the addition of a semblance of justification for the races you’ll be taking part in. Each race is part of your journey to become a racing champion, from your beginnings in the Seeker Championship to the penultimate challenge in the Forza Driver’s Cup.
You’re only really required to complete a certain number of races to move on to the next competition, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you neglected the Showcases, which are quite possibly the most entertaining diversions. Each will task you with a special objective, like going up against Ken Block in a race around the Long Beach track, or bowling with a limousine. They invite interesting challenges and only increase in difficulty as you progress.
To add a little flavor, Turn 10 Studios has included little anecdotes from various professionals in the racing field. The Showcase event featuring Ken Block includes a small audio snippet of an interview with the man himself, speaking about his experiences. It’s a neat addition.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Forza Motorsport 7 has an enthralling story, but the changes to the career mode is certainly welcome.
It’s interesting the changes I’ve noticed in the customization options of races as well. Playing a free race or split screen allows you to change the normal stuff like what track you’re on and what conditions you’ll be racing in, to whether you want a rolling start or if you want the win condition to be based on distance traveled. You can even narrow down what type of car characteristics you want: cylinder count, drivetrain type, region of manufacture, weight, traction coefficients, etc.
WILDCARD: THE PRIZE
Or should I say, prize boxes…
Prize boxes have sparked the ire of many in the gaming community, though many of the biggest critics seem to be folks that don’t play the games anyway, so I’m not sure how valid a complaint it is. That said, it’s very easy to accrue large paychecks in Forza Motorsport 7, so I doubt you’ll be hurting for cash unless you’re buying nothing but expensive cars all the time.
That doesn’t mean it’s a perfect system though. With the removal of assists-based payout increases, you have a much higher incentive to use mods found in prize boxes, which can more than double the payout of a race. Those prize boxes have been confirmed to later be available for purchase using the Forza series’ Token system, which is a way to spend real money to attain goods in the game.
That said, while it’s hardly difficult to make money in Forza Motorsport 7, the economy is definitely geared to getting players to invest in prize boxes. My only hope is that normal income is tuned to offer a little more money, while also offering mods without having to purchase prize boxes.
Update (Nov 16th 2017): Microsoft and Turn 10 Studios have released the patch that allows players to purchase prize crates with real money. While this hasn’t affected gameplay much, the inclusion itself is reprehensible. This is just shy of what regulators consider to be gambling.
Forza Motorsport 7 improves on a formula that didn’t really need much improvement. That said, I’m happy that Turn 10 kept many of the best parts of the series while adding more. Thankfully, they also didn’t feel complacent enough to just add more tracks and cars, and instead changed elements of the game to improve the experience even further.
Of course, the prize box situation isn’t ideal, but I stand by my assertion that it isn’t gamebreaking. It’s still mildly disappointing that assists have lost some of their appeal though.
Regardless of any detractions, Forza Motorsport 7 is a wonderful, beautiful entry to the Forza Motorsport franchise, and it will likely be my source of both giddy enjoyment and relentless, edge-of-the-seat concentration for some time. In my humble (yet oft correct) opinion, it’s a must-own for anyone interested in a racing title.
Now if only I could get my hands on an Xbox One X and a racing wheel. You have my email, Turn 10. I’d be happy to put your game to the test, for research purposes, of course.
Update (Nov 16th 2017): Assuming future releases of Forza titles continue to include loot box mechanics, this may be the last Forza that I purchase as a new copy. I’ve always wanted to support developers of games that make games I love by purchasing special editions and whatnot (in this case by getting the Ultimate Edition), but that is coming to an end.
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