“Basically, we’re not planning a distinct sequel at all.”
Dan Greenawalt, GM of the Forza series, has been working on Motorsport games for two decades, but his remarks in a post-Xbox Showcase briefing on Sunday suggest this next release could be the last in the series. Forza Motorsport is the eighth title in Turn 10 Studios’ driving sim franchise, and the first new entry in almost half a decade.
Forza has been one of Microsoft’s most reliable first-party properties. Ignoring Playground Games’ spinoff Horizon series, the original Xbox had one Forza title, the Xbox 360 had three, and the Xbox One had three. Barring a few launch hiccups, every title has been well-reviewed and the franchise as a whole has sold millions. We’re now in the third year of this console generation, and there’s been no Motorsport game for fans to play.
A lot’s changed since Forza Motorsport 7 arrived in September 2017. The “day one with Game Pass” paradigm shift started with Sea Of Thieves in 2018, and has since become Microsoft’s entire business model. Now, Microsoft measures success more like a social network (or a tech news publication), focusing on monthly active users and playtime, rather than sales.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Forza Motorsport is set up more like a service game than a traditional AAA title.
While many of the modes that Forza players expect, especially the online multiplayer component, are being reworked and improved, Turn 10 is betting that its new career mode will keep players coming back week after week. At Summer Game Fest, the game’s creative director Chris Esaki talked a group of journalists through this new career-mode loop and the shift in philosophy for the series.
Esaki described Forza Horizon as “a whole new take on falling in love with cars.” We saw a career mode event called the Builders Cup, which began with a narrated showcase of a trio of cars. After picking one to roll with, you then head into “open practice,” where you get to know the car. These sessions are packed full of stats and challenges; you earn Car Experience Points (CXP) for every corner you take, and the closer to perfection you are the more CXP you’ll get. CXP is specific to each car, and is used to upgrade parts and customize vehicle performance.
After open practice, you head into a race, where there’s a new “challenge the grid” system that lets you essentially bet against your racing talent. You choose where on the grid to start and how fast your AI opponents are, with higher rewards as the difficulty scales up. After competing in the race itself, you’ll earn money for new vehicles as well as more of the car-specific CXP. Then it’s onto the next open practice, more tuning and customization, and more races.
Esaki calls this loop “level, build, dominate.” He sees it as a way to get players interested in a broad swathe of cars, rather than having them head straight to a Ferrari or Bugatti. That might sound like the ethos of another popular racing sim, but while there are definitely elements of Gran Turismo 7’s cups and café challenges in here, the Builders Cup feels both more contained and more repeatable. It’s all by design: Similar to recent Forza Horizon games, players can expect a big content update monthly, which then rolls out week-by-week.
We’ll likely hear much more about Forza Motorsport in the lead up to its release on October 10th, and I’m interested to try out the new simulation features, like a massively overhauled physics system and improved opponent AI. For now, though, the pitch seems solid. I’m a huge fan of Gran Turismo 7, but if you don’t enjoy online sim racing and the toxicity that comes with it, its single-player experience is fairly threadbare. In contrast, Turn 10 seems to have developed Forza Motorsport as a game that will last forever, with new experiences every week designed to satiate gamers’ desire for fresh races and Microsoft’s desire for monthly active users.
Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest right here!
Published at Tue, 13 Jun 2023 18:30:33 +0000