There is just so much…stuff in Forza Motorsport 7. Not in an overtly bad way. I enjoyed the tenth installment of the Forza franchise, but Turn 10 Studios did not hold back when it came to stuffing this game as much as they could. Every car I unlocked was a reminder that a few hundred more remained out of my grasp. The overwhelming sense of victory that came with every first place was almost immediately dashed whenever I noticed I had dozens of courses I had yet to even try. It never seemed to end.
I have lost days’ worth of time to this game and I am still nowhere near unlocking everything. I will get to all of it in due time, but, for now, this veteran racer needs a moment to reflect on the journey.
Racing to the Top
It has not been easy. Forza Motorsport 7 is a grind to the top. Players pick and customize their own racer (a welcome first for the franchise), get three tutorials, are gifted one free car, and then are left to their own devices. A helpful narrator, the one responsible for the player’s first ride coming free of charge, guides the player towards completing certain types of races in order to eventually qualify for and win the Forza Cup.
Why? Not really sure. The game tells the player that they should want to win the Forza Cup, but does very little in the way of convincing. Racing for the Forza Cup was just a series of checklists to complete, and although the A.I. initially provided a welcome challenge, I was easily grabbing first place in all my races before even halfway to my final goal. The latter half of my journey to the top was more a battle of attrition than anything.
I did eventually achieve victory, and I celebrated my accomplishment. However, chasing the Forza Cup, an experience I found to ultimately be devoid of any sense of drive (pun intended), was not why I kept returning to the game.
Finding that Sense of Drive
I had way more fun racing against my friends and random strangers online, learning to master the nuances of each track, or coaxing the best possible performances from each new mechanical marvel that joined my ever-growing roster of cars. There is a sense of agency when it comes to mastering everything that Forza Motorsport 7 has to offer. For as much as I complain about how much the game shoved down my throat, I was always eager to unlock and do more. Although Turn 10 Studios mercifully included multiple exit points for a weary racer to call it a night, it was not easy to put the game down. Forza Motorsport 7 features just over 700 cars, 32 different racing locales, and over 200 racing configurations. This game has not gotten stale yet and I doubt it will anytime soon.
The player never knows what type of race they are in for when they jump online, and knowing how each car works is paramount to both the player’s performance and understanding how competitor’s cars are most likely going to handle. Weather conditions (previously only seen in the Horizon side of the Forza franchise) also appear in game, affecting the race with the glare of the sun, pelting rain, or pitch-black roads. I have most weather conditions down easy, but driving in the rain on dirt still gives me trouble most of the time.
Forza’s Got the Need
That is the craziest part about this game. Everything feels so real. I usually go for the over-the-top, high-octane action of Need for Speed, but there is something about this Forza game that just feels so right. A huge part of that is the visuals. The Forza franchise will never reach the explosive heights of some of its racing game brethren (opting for empowerment through realism than idealized fantasy), but the games have never fallen flat when it comes to conveying speed. Forza Motorsport 7 is no exception.
However, Forza, and Motorsport 7 in particular, truly makes it mark with the noises of the cars. Everyone who worked on sound design for this game should get some type of award. Every vehicle at the player’s disposal roars to life with remarkable clarity and force, and I swear that the vibration of the engine permeated through the controller into my hands. I was there. I was behind the wheel, performing in response to both the HUDs’ gauges and the general feel of the car.
Pump Your Breaks
Then there are the loot crates. I am sure, by this point, you have heard the terrible rumors of Forza Motorsport 7 pressuring gamers into spending extra money to unlock all that the game has to offer. Unfortunately, it is all true. Although players will continue to unlock credits to buy more cars and customizations, the rewards for winning lose their worth the further into the game the player gets.
It eventually gets to the point where the player has to figure out if they want to spend a couple months grinding for the remaining hundred cars or so, if they want to drop another $100 (if not more) on the game to unlock everything in a matter of days, or if they just want to quit unlocking stuff and just focus on enjoying the game. For now, I am in the last camp, but I cannot help but feel bitter that my once exponential growth has basically ground to a halt. It certainly does not help that Forza Motorsport 7 released during a month filled with plenty of other amazing games that are vying for my attention.
I understand why the loot boxes were included. Racing video games tend to not make much money after their initial release, and the money to pay for future Forza’s had to come from somewhere. At the same time, this system seems flawed. Loot boxes should not prey on a player’s need to complete, but instead offer a suitable substitute for players who have some money to burn.
Adding a competitive mode where players could put up one of their cars as collateral to enter a high stakes race for massive amounts of in-game currency would have created a far more enjoyable means for players to earn what they needed to buy the more expensive cars. It would push players to stick with the game too, as they would want to practice for hours to both earn the money to buy something new and not lose whichever car they were betting to enter the race.
Forza Motorsport 7 struggles when it comes to writing a compelling reason for the player to race. Thankfully, Turn 10 Studios more than makes up for it with hours of different types of races on a multitude of tracks with hundreds of unique cars at the player’s fingertips. From there, the player can create their own narrative. Growing as a racer, and as a collector, is at the heart of Forza Motorsport 7, and helps the game establish its own niche in the ever-expanding roster of racing games coming out at the end of 2017. I just wish the price for entry did not come with so much hidden fees.