Forza Motorsport review: A new beginning

After a six-year absence, Forza Motorsport is back to fill the need for skill and competition in the storied franchise.

Turn 10 Studios

It's been ages since we've had an entry in the Forza Motorsport series by Turn 10 Studios. If it doesn't feel that long, then it is a credit to their Forza Horizon releases over the past half a decade filling the void. In this 2023 release of Forza Motorsport, Turn 10 Studios vows to offer a more serious choice for car enthusiasts. Where Horizon is the fun and creative side of Forza, Motorsport is all about skill and competition. Forza Motorsport offers a huge variety of cars, along with upgrades and tuning setups, but really wants the player to fall in love with a select few and then, pardon the pun, drive the wheels off them.

It's been a long time

A group of construction cones with a supercar in the background.

Source: Turn 10 Studios

Before we get to the stable of cars and configuration options, let's talk about what's new in Forza Motorsport. A brand new Builders Cup career mode acts as the single-player side of the game. You create your own avatar and work your way up through the various series of races on offer. Along the way, you will earn experience points in each particular car, which leads to unlocking upgrades. Each upgrade will alter the car's on-track performance and make it more competitive against the AI drivers. In addition to car upgrades, you earn credits by competing in the various competitions, which can then be spent on adding new cars to your garage.

There is a lot of depth here, from all the combinations of car upgrades to individual tuning options fitting for each track and race conditions. It's easy to experiment with upgrade choices, as reversals are free and refund the experience points fully. For those less inclined in the mechanical upgrades, a Quick Upgrade feature is available to do all the thinking for you.

The Builders Cup mode is where Turn 10 Studios really wants you to get immersed in the cars, the options, the tracks, and develop your favorites. The downside to all the customization options and vast quantity of series is that getting through the Builders Cup, and to some of the faster cars, takes quite a while  

However, the Featured Multiplayer Events are where you'll be able to show off your skills. These events are designed to be set up like a real-world race weekend, where you and your friends will compete for bragging rights. Each event is tuned for the drivers' skill ratings and includes AI-powered Forza Race Regulations to try to limit the types of shenanigans frequently associated with online races. It'll take some time out on track to see how well this is going to work in practice, but Turn 10 Studios is clearly focused on making this a big part of the experience.

It has been six years to the day of this review since the release of the last Forza Motorsport, and graphics and audio technology in video games have increased significantly. In addition to a large variety of soundscapes for each car, Forza Motorsport features next level realism courtesy of photorealistic graphics and real-time ray tracing. This really shone on my Nvidia RTX 4090 powered PC in full ultra settings, and the dynamic day/night cycle and weather out on track results in some stunning views. And a lot of track limit violations, but let's not dwell on that.

All about the cars

A group of race cars on a track.

Source: Turn 10 Studios

Let's talk about the cars in Forza Motorsport instead, shall we? The game ships with over 500 cars at launch, which is a truly staggering number to think about. The stated intent of Turn 10 Studios is that you try as many of those 500 cars as you desire and eventually land on about 10 or so favorites. Chances are that those 10 cars are not the same 10 cars your friends favor, and that's exactly the type of environment Forza Motorsport intends to create. I predict that enthusiasts will spend countless hours unlocking upgrades for their favorite cars, and then countless more hours fine-tuning them for different tracks and conditions.

All the cars are represented in highly detailed models, with many customization options, ranging from simple color schemes to full-on race car liveries. The ranges in handling vary from subtle differences between a Golf and a Subaru, to the extreme in the case of a classic versus modern Aston Martin. Driving one of these beasts on a rainy evening track compared to a dry, hot summer day demands a lot of driver attention to detail.

Casual over hardcore

A car dashboard with a digital display.

Source: Turn 10 Studios

The initial setup of my sim racing rig in Forza Motorsport couldn't have been smoother. The game instantly recognized my wheel and pedals, and the force feedback and default bindings for shifters and quick camera view toggles all worked flawlessly. I was disappointed that there was no support for more advanced hardware peripherals, such as head-tracking devices or even virtual reality headsets. In the current era of racing simulators, a title that aims to target the more serious crowd of sim racing enthusiasts should support this. There is something off-putting about not being able to easily look around the car's cockpit. Yes, the side views are effective and easy, but it does remove some of the immersion that the graphics and audio engine otherwise excel at creating.

Difficulty settings can be a tough nut to crack in racing sims, but Forza Motorsport elegantly handles this situation. Since much of the game revolves around earning experience points for car upgrades, difficulty settings, including rule options, directly impact how much you can earn. As you build up skills in a particular car, you'll quickly find yourself moving up to the podium in each series. You can then easily increase the driver opponent AI, implement stricter rules, such as prohibiting the rewind functionality, all with the purpose of gaining even more experience. Since Builders Cup races don't have a qualifying component, you get to choose your starting position: the further back you start, the greater the potential experience gains. I quite enjoyed this method as it makes for easy tweaking of difficulty, allowing for the right balance between challenge and enjoyment.

At launch, there are 20 racetracks available, which seems a bit low in comparison to the massive quantities of cars, but in the end, it's probably for the best. Fewer tracks allow for drivers to gain more experience and familiarity with each, and the dynamic weather and daytime settings do create a nice amount of variety.

Time to drive

A yellow and blue race cars on a road.

Source: Turn 10 Studios

After six years of waiting for the next iteration of Forza Motorsport, Turn 10 Studios delivers a solid offering, packed with hundreds of cars, upgrades, and tuning options, all bundled in a gorgeous presentation package. Not outstanding, but good support for racing hardware means that the experience on track is exactly what Forza fans have been waiting for. There is no doubt that hundreds of hours of fun can be found here, especially if you enjoy diving deep into each vehicle's characteristics. Featured online events backed by AI regulations promise to provide the opportunity to show off all the skills and customizations to your friends. I'd say it's time to hit the track and get practicing!

This review is based on a Windows PC code provided by the publisher. Forza Motorsport is available on October 10, 2023, on Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PC, Steam, and in beta on Xbox Cloud Gaming.

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Jan has been playing video games for nearly 30 years and been a passionate geek for the better part of his life. When he's not grinding his way through Destiny in search of further lore, he can often be found neck deep in source code of various apps and websites. Feel free to ask him about whether or not Guardians are actually evil or not, and whether or not he'll give you some free SEO tech tips. You can follow him on Twitter @ChalkOne.

Review for
Forza Motorsport
  • Huge variety of cars with different feel and handling
  • Tremendous amount of customization and tuning options
  • Beautiful graphics and effects on track
  • Builders Cup career mode requires patience
  • No head-tracking or VR options
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