E3 hands-on: Forza Motorsport 7 (Xbox One X)

There’s always something special about a new console launch. It’s basically a celebration of the progress in our ever changing industry and in this particular case it’s the next step in pushing the visual quality of games we play on console. The game that is the spearhead to show off your sexy new piece of Xbox One X hardware is Forza Motorsport 7. Like an annual game of FIFA you might be wondering why you should bother?

It’s pretty, oh so pretty!

Let’s get the obvious out of the way – Forza Motorsport 7 is drop-dead gorgeous. I own a 4K TV, and have played several 4K HDR games, but I’ve never experienced something quite like this. The photo realism has hit the roof so hard now that it’s pushed through and is reaching for the sky at record speed. The textures, the lighting, the way the HDR absolutely recreates a realistic weather system and the sense of speed you feel when your car starts shaking at over 300 km/h brings forth a sense of realism like never before. Combine these features with a locked 60 fps and it’s easy to see why Forza Motorsport 7 became the shining example of what the Xbox One X can do. What’s perhaps more impressive is how the extra power can change up your driving experience altogether.

The E3 demo available to us came as three unique racing disciplines and weather settings. I could either race the 2018 911 GT2 RS Porsche around a fictional Dubai track, take a powerful 2015 Mercedes-Benz racing truck for a spin around Mugello or drive a 2015 Nissan Nismo around the Nürburgring race track… I stuck around and raced on all three. Screw it, I had flown 25 hours to get there and it was time for the Yanks to wait in line. First up was the Porsche.

It may be a fictional Dubai track, but that does not make it any less unrealistic. It’s a great combination of both incline corners as well as long straights to push the power under the hood of the sexy new Porsche. What impressed me the most was how the dynamic weather changed up the race conditions in real-time while driving. On the first lap I’d get to a specific corner and time my breaking point perfectly, and on the second lap sand would blow over that same corner and as result have an effect on the traction. Instead of the wheels gripping to the road I was having issues by sliding over the sand, which as result saw me smashing into the barrier. Driving around Mugello in the Merc truck was fun, but it’s on Nürburgring that I had most of my fun.

Dynamic weather that can cause havoc

Instead of just a simple wet weather track there was a big thunder storm approaching the circuit. By the time my Nismo was hissing around the fourth corner the rain started falling, and gradually increasing. The dry road transformed into the puddle-infested track that we originally got to play in Forza Motorsport 6, but it’s now dynamic. By the time I reached the hairpin corner on the second lap the shower stopped and the puddles slowly but surely started disappearing. Turning into a corner on a wet road was also not as straight-forward as it was in any other racer. The dynamic conditions threw me out again. I’d generally slide into the wet corner, with the wheels locked to the left or right, with the car still sliding straight towards the gravel on the other side of the tarmac. The oil on the road had a huge effect on my steering, and I had to keep my wits about myself to make it to the chequered flag.

Somehow the team at Turn 10 Studios made me a believer in where they plan to take the series by just showing off three tracks with unique setups. It’s at this point that I got my gap to speak to Ryan Cooper, the Executive Producer of Forza Motorsport 7. He explained that we can expect 700 cars and 30 tracks in the final game and before the poor guy could finish his sentence I interrupted and asked about Maple Valley, the classic track that has been absent in this generation. He smiled and nodded, “Yes, we’re bringing back that fan-favourite, as well as Suzuka”. Liveries will return, so will drivatars and you’ll now be able to completely customise your racer from head to toe with clothing and brand sponsorships.

I had a great time playing Forza Motorsport 7, but as everything else in life all good things must come to an end (especially here at E3). Petrolheads best start saving those pennies, 4K isn’t cheap – both literally and figuratively.

Married to a gamer and she kicks my ass at most shooters. If the game is enjoyable I'll play it, no matter the format.

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