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Forza Motorsport Review: Thrilling & Competitive

Turn 10 Studios’ Forza Motorsport is a thrilling yet competitive game that'll excite veteran and casual players from the starting line to the podium.
Forza Motorsport Review: Thrilling & Competitive
(Picture: Turn 10 Studios / Ashleigh Klein)

The Forza racing series has been in my games library since Motorsport 5 as a player who played a handful of racing games over the years. Naturally, this launched me into the Horizon series, starting with Horizon 3, as a player who thoroughly enjoyed open-world games, and since then, I've played the latest title from each series in the following years.

With Turn 10 Studios back in the foray of unleashing its latest entry, Forza Motorsport, I was delighted to explore this racing sim and what it offers. And I wasn't disappointed, not by a split second, as this may be the best and most polished Forza Motorsport title to date.

Forza Motorsport Review: Brief Overview & Gameplay

Forza Motorsport is the eighth installment in this Xbox-exclusive racing sim developer by American studio Turn 10 Studios. This latest entry was first announced during the Xbox Showcase in 2020, with the game originally intended for a Spring 2023 launch but got pushed back to Fall 2023 with a release date of 10th October 2023.

Forza Motorsport is the first game in this series not available for Xbox One consoles due to the advanced hardware requirements it demands to run smoothly. But there is a workaround for Xbox One owners as they can play the game via Cloud Gaming if they wish to get the game at launch.

Forza Motorsport is a significant leap from its previous game, Motorsport 7, in which the development team has to go back to the drawing board on how to properly sustain a live-service game based on player feedback and internal resources. This became the foundation of Forza Motorsport by introducing a new structure that includes a live-service model where new content gets added regularly atop existing content.

At launch, the game will include a single-player Career Mode called the Builders Cup Championship and various multiplayer modes, including Featured Multiplayer. Other gameplay modes include Free Play, Rivals, and Private Multiplayer for joining or creating private lobbies.

The game also boasts inclusive accessibility options, highlighted by its Blind Driving Assists, a first for the series. There is ample controller and peripheral support, crossplay, and cross-progression to ensure easy access to game save files and play Forza Motorsport on your preferred platforms.

Forza Motorsport Review: Builders Cup Career Mode

After completing the tutorial practice and the endurance race, you'll begin your Career Mode, the Builders Cup, for which you'll have to decide between three starting cars: the 2018 Honda Civic Type R, the 2019 Subaru STI S209 and the 2018 Ford Mustang GT which based on whatever your preference may be, I opted for an old faithful, the 2019 Subaru STI S209.

forza motorsport review single player career mode builders cup starter car
Players will have three car options to begin their car-building career in the Builders Cup, but did I make the right choice? (Picture: Turn 10 Studios / Ashleigh Klein)

Players can toggle a handful of settings to adjust or enhance their gaming experience during Builders Cup, which they can readjust from the mode's Settings later. To reiterate what this Career Mode entails: players compete in various tours by building and tuning their chosen Starter car before testing it on the race tracks and eventually entering competitions to push your car to its limits, performance-wise, and fine-tuning your driving aptitude.

To better understand how Career Mode works in Forza Motorsport, a tutorial event called the Builders Cup Intro Series is available to all players. This helps you learn what the Builders Cup entails, the new mechanics and features, and the types of Tours you can get involved with.

After completing the Builders Cup Intro Series, you can progress your car-building adventures by participating in the subsequent Tour events, specifically for the Builders Cup or the Featured Tours. The latter is a series of limited-time events focused on a specific car class, manufacturer, or iconic automotive event that unlocks weekly, and players will have a time limit on completing them to earn rewards.

For the Builders Cup Tours, progressing is at your pace, and there's an option to replay these tours, perhaps for a better outcome. As someone who enjoyed the single-player content from the Horizon series, especially for how balanced it was, it seems like Turn 10 Studios are taking some inspiration from their sister title when approaching the Career Mode.

forza motorsport review single player career mode builders cup content roadmap
Players can look forward to an eventful launch month with plenty of Builders Cup events to participate in. (Picture: Turn 10 Studios)

Content is abundant for the Career and Multiplayer modes at launch, which should get players racing solo or with friends for their first month. Additionally, players can expect plenty of support from the development team content-wise as Turn 10 Studios is confirmed to be adding new content regularly along with each game update; the latter looks to occur monthly.

Forza Motorsport Multiplayer Offerings

The multiplayer modes for Forza Motorsport are split between Featured and Private Multiplayer, the latter for players who wish to torment and challenge their family and friends on the race track. While I joined one of the Featured Multiplayer Sessions as part of the review, I was there for a good time, not a long time, but I stuck it out to the end.

The Featured Multiplayer is relatively easy to navigate and understand, but as a requirement, to access all the multiplayer events or Tours, players will need to complete the Qualify Series. This is perhaps a clever way of repackaging the tutorial for the multiplayer mode, as it's a great way of learning the new game mechanics and understanding how each subsequent series will function.

Like with the Builders Cup Career Mode, I also got to learn the layouts of the various tracks within this introductory series, for which there is the Grand Oak Raceway, Hakone, and Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca's Short Circuit, which the latter is my least favorite at the moment. On this track, I began tuning my car, which may or may not have hampered my performance, but my first multiplayer experience for this title certainly awakened my competitive side.

forza motorsport review multiplayer feature multiplayer qualify series hakone circuit
The Hakone Circuit looks stunning at night as you race around the circuit in the Qualify Series for the Featured Multiplayer mode. (Picture: Turn 10 Studios / Ashleigh Klein)

The approach to even out the playing field when it comes to the Featured Multiplayer ensures that players are competing against each other on an equal footing and that no player can easily outrace others. This is done by implementing Race and Car Regulations as players can only select cars within a specific car class or manufacturer, putting your racing skills to the ultimate test, and you can practice them during the Open Practise run or by heading to Free Play.

Forza Motorsport Review: The Final Verdict

I started my Motorsport journey with Forza Motorsport 5, skipped Motorsport 7, and continued with the Horizon series from Horizons 3 to 5. I always enjoyed racing games as a kid, from Need For Speed: Underground (sorry, Mum) to Burnout: Takedown, which the latter is still a personal favorite to this day.

Regarded as the pinnacle of competitive automotive racing from a gaming standpoint, the development team pushes the franchise forward with its innovative physics framework and improved hyper-realistic AI system, replicating the behavior and performance of professional performance drivers. While most of the changes implemented may feel relatively small or insignificant when starting the game, as it progresses, it will likely be felt, especially when engaging with players online in multiplayer or playing solo through its Career Mode.

The commitment to continuously update the game and add new content, from new race tracks, cars, and events, will undoubtedly sustain its existing players while bringing in plenty of new players at launch and post-launch. Based on the overall performance and gameplay stability, content, networking features, and post-launch roadmap, Forza Motorsport checks all the right boxes, which should please racing sim fans looking to jump into a new and complete racing experience.

As such, Forza Motorsport is a brilliant and polished racing sim from start to end, and it gets a thrilling 4.5/5 as the final verdict.

Forza Motorsport will be available on 10th October 2023 for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox Game Pass, Cloud Gaming, Windows PC, and Steam. Players who've pre-ordered the game will receive Early Access, which begins on 5th October 2023.

The review copy of Forza Motorsport was provided by the publisher and reviewed on PC.