Everyone's been saying it lately, '100GB is the new 20GB.' Forza Motorsport 7, a game coming out October 3 that is allegedly about driving cars and not just looking at them, took half a day to download. Finally, after reluctantly agreeing to install the Windows 10 Creators Update, I've had enough time to admire some cars. They're quite worthy of admiration, too, because Forza looks great and performs extremely well so far. But when it comes to driving them from point A to point B or in loops, quickly, I can't elaborate too much just yet.
What I can say is that Forza Motorsport 7 plays a lot like Forza Motorsport 6, which is to say it's very good. As a more straightlaced racing simulation than its goofier open world sibling Forza Horizon 3, Motorsport 7 is about supporting the ultimate car lover's fantasy. Except for the limo drift bowling, I suppose.
That isn't to say Forza is strictly meant for the super-enthusiast iRacing crowd with scary racing chairs that vibrate and whir. 'Realism' in Motorsport 7 can support any level of enthusiasm, from driving pretty cars around pretty tracks (with virtual training wheels that no one has to know about) to an experience aimed at mirroring true driving conditions (though a $6,000 wheel controller and cerberus monitor setup is a bit more difficult to hide). All that's required is enjoying four-wheeled metal cages and harboring no shame.
There are some welcome additions this time around, though it'll all be new for dedicated PC folk. First up is the addition of driver customization. You'll choose a eerie, faceless human from the start and unlock outfits for them as you progress. It's no game-changer, but a nice layer of expression. This does ruin my post-apocalypse car world headcanon though.
Also new is "dynamic weather," one of those bullet point buzzwords that actually makes a big difference in a driving sim. If it's raining at the start, it might ebb in and out, or the clouds might crack open and give way to bright sun on lap three, meaning that how your car handles on the road will change throughout the race. I've yet to spend enough time in events with dynamic weather to really assess it, but I hope it means I have to stay as aware of my position as I am of puddle distribution and how it effects my handling. In the meantime, it's at least a cool visual showpiece.
And, obviously, Forza is a good-looking game overall. We'd be surprised if it wasn't, but due to Forza Horizon 3's performance problems, including an occasional hitch that still plagues it today, Motorsport 7 has a lot to prove. So far so good. The machine I’ve tested it on is a few years old, sporting an AMD Radeon R9 Nano, an Intel Core i5-4690K, and 16GB of RAM, but I've been able to run Forza 7 with everything cranked up at 1920x1080. We'll have a more in-depth performance analysis coming soon from our benchmarking master Jarred, but early impressions indicate low-spec machines aren't locked out. I'll hold judgement for beefier rigs and enthusiasts hoping to hit 4K with a high framerate, though things are looking up.
It's gorgeous and plays well, but I'm a tad worried about Forza 7's progression systems. Completing events still earns you credits and you can still spend them on cars directly, but there are also Prize Crates that dole out everything from cars to driver outfits. Word has it (opens in new tab) that these crates will not be purchasable with real money—and I haven't found any way to do so—though it raises flags for the loot box cynic in me. It's similar to the Wheel Spin reward system from Horizon 2, except you're spending credits you could be spending on cars, and I worry that too much focus on randomized rewards will detach meaning from significant milestones.
Crates also reward mods, which are returning from Forza 6. Mods are consumable cards that place modifiers on a chosen race. Some force you to remove the training wheels, racing with real damage enabled or no guiding track. I like that they're focused on encouraging new players to get better and take risks, but as the main drop in prize crates, they're not an exciting reward and I can imagine experienced players will quickly get tired of them.
The progression systems and economy may turn out totally fine, and again the only currency is in-game credits, at least as of now—the hair on my neck just bristles when I see cards and loot crates and consumables. As long as I can drive cars at the difficulty of my choosing and earn a steady drip of new ones through natural play, I’ll give Forza 7 the green light. I still have a lot of driving in circles to do before then, so look for our final review early next week.