Hard though it is to believe, it’s been five years since Forza Motorsport 7 launched. What once was an every-other-year sim racing franchise trading releases with the open-world Forza Horizon games has slowed in output, presumably so developer Turn 10 Studios could rebuild its Gran Turismo competitor from the ground up. The result is the new Forza Motorsport — no number — and it’s coming in spring 2023.
Dan Greenawalt, general manager of the Motorsport franchise, called this reboot “the most technically advanced racing game ever made,” owing to features like real-time raytracing during gameplay for detailed reflections, fully variable time-of-day and weather simulation for every track, and “completely overhauled” driving dynamics. Chris Esaki, the game’s creative director, termed the latter a “48-times improvement in the fidelity of our physics simulation” — vague as we don’t yet precisely know what aspects of the handling have been punched up. We’ll hopefully gain more insight this coming Thursday during the next Forza Monthly stream.
What is clear is that Maple Valley, a locale that dates back to the very first Forza Motorsport on the original Xbox, has been completely rebuilt with new scenery. The result looks gorgeous, with a Forza Horizon 5-esque attention paid to capturing textures and surfaces with photogrammetry for a leap in depth and detail.
On the racing side, longtime Forza fans will appreciate that simulation of fuel consumption, as well as how different tire compounds wear down, has finally been accounted for. Asphalt “rubbers in” over the course of a session too, a phenomenon that Gran Turismo 7 makes no attempt to replicate. Those aspects, coupled with the new dynamic environments, should contribute an element of strategy to longer races that the series has historically lacked. From Turn 10’s announcement:
Fundamental to Forza Motorsport is our fully dynamic time of day system, which brings tracks to life in stunning detail and like weather, it will be available on every track. Changes in time of day alter ambient temperatures, which, in turn, impacts the track surface temperatures. These track temperature changes will affect the grip of your car, as does rubbering in and weather. These new simulation details add further depth, drama, and dynamics to the racing experience.
Damage has received love too, which is refreshing as it’s an aspect of racing that most racing devs tend to ignore these days. Esaki’s words here are tinged with some hyperbole — claims of destruction “reproduced down to the individual scratches on the bodywork” hardly ring significant for those of us who remember how brushing up against a barrier in the original Forza Motorsport would leave trails of your car’s paint behind on the concrete. In the demo we see an Audi R8 GT3 thoroughly crumpled and scraped from an off-track excursion on Maple Valley’s infamous final corner, but, critically, all of its parts are still attached.
Nevertheless, Forza Motorsport looks impressive at this stage, and will likely only become more stunning by the time it launches next year. In this slice of gameplay and the trailer showcased at the Xbox and Bethesda event on Sunday, Turn 10 teased Laguna Seca, Spa Francorchamps and South Africa’s Kyalami, of all locations, featuring in the game. Kyalami is an especially inspired pick, as it tends to miss many racing titles. A fictional track set in Japan, called Circuit Hakone, will debut as well.
Meanwhile, the Acura and Cadillac DPi prototypes from IMSA, 1966 Chapparal 2E and 1977 Honda RA300 stood out among the more surprising highlights from the car roster shown off in the trailer. This new iteration in the Motorsport series seems to focus on race cars, though road cars haven’t been left behind. You can peruse the full list of cars seen in the footage over at the game’s official site.
Microsoft wasn’t clear on Sunday whether Forza Motorsport will be another cross-generation release, like Forza Horizon 5, or if it’ll be exclusive to the current-gen Xbox Series X, S and PC. Personally, I’d love to see Turn 10 leave behind obsolete hardware and go all-in on taking advantage of what today’s consoles have to offer, though a closed beta of the game last year was supposedly running on Xbox One. We’ve reached out Microsoft for insight as to whether that version has been axed, though it’s entirely possible the company still hasn’t made a final decision yet.
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