Forza Motorsport promises ray traced reflections, 'fully procedural' clouds, and loads of other technical doodads

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Whenever there's a new sports game, especially a new racing game, there must also be the traditional listing of the Granular Technical Advancements™. For the next game in the Forza Motorsport series (Forza Horizon's older, more serious sibling), that moment came during Wednesday's Xbox and Bethesda "Developer Direct" showcase, and it was a doozy.

Here's a summary of everything promised by Forza Motorsport's developers in the video embedded above:

  • Over 500 cars at launch, 100 of which are new to the series: "The most modern race cars ever featured" on a Forza Motorsport roster
  • 800 unique car upgrades
  • 20 race sites, including five new locations to the series
  • "Physically based lighting and volumetric fog effects"
  • "A fully procedural cloud system" (very important!)
  • "Tens of thousands of fully-animated 3D spectators"
  • "Fully dynamic time of day and weather" with "dynamic track temperatures, wet driving surfaces, and rubbering in" (that's when tires rub off on the track)
  • New, higher resolution materials and shaders that are "optimized" for raytracing, at least on Xbox (no details about PC raytracing support were mentioned)
  • Car paints "sourced using a spectrophotometer" which "yields a paint model that has a "much more realistic light response across color, metal flake, and gloss" (Science paint, got it (opens in new tab))
  • Each car has a unique "damage and dirt buildup" model
  • Simulated paint chipping which accounts for paint thickness and directionality
  • This is the first Forza Motorsport to be "mixed natively for immersive audio formats like Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos"
  • The car parts you choose alter your car's sound, and there's a new "regional track announcer system" and "improved tire and suspension audio"

There's one more audio-related detail that I've set aside, because I think it deserves special recognition. The award for the most jargon in one sentence goes to:

  •  🏆 "Hardware accelerated convolution reverb accurately reproduces how sounds in Forza interact within an acoustic space, dynamically adapting to its surroundings and creating a realistic and detailed soundscape." 

(Here's an explanation of convolution reverb (opens in new tab) from B&H. In short, the A/V retailer more or less says the same thing, that the idea is to "record and process the reverberant behavior unique to a real acoustic space.")

Some of these details were covered in a blog post (opens in new tab) last year, and there's more in a new post (opens in new tab)which calls Forza Motorsport a "generational leap in immersion."

All these big technical claims about Forza Motorsport are of course intended to sell us on the idea that the current generation of Xboxes are majestically powerful, and that the game will fulfill an unrealized desire in us for more accurate reflections. Those ray traced reflections demonstrated near the end of the video do look pretty sweet though. Maybe I do want more accurate reflections. Maybe it's all I've ever wanted. Hopefully we'll get some PC-centric info sooner or later.

Forza Motorsport, which is just called Forza Motorsport despite being the eighth in the series, doesn't have a concrete release date yet, but Microsoft says it'll be out this year. On PC, it'll be available on Game Pass and Steam.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the rise of personal computers, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early PCs his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.