The Forza series has been a major hit for quite a number of years now, but gamers who’ve stuck to PC have been missing out until recently. Last year, Forza Horizon 3 made a sleek arrival onto Windows 10 as the first fully-fledged entry in the franchise to come to PC. Now, we have Forza Motorsport 7 following up with a more simulator-based style. I’m happy to report that it’s some serious fast-paced fun, but there are a few speed bumps in the way of making it a totally amazing racer on PC.
Unlike the Horizon entries, the Motorsport games of the Forza series take on a more realistic feel. Even so, the folks over at Turn 10 Studios have taken into account the different skill levels of players. While Motorsport 7 is a bit more technical and sophisticated than that of Horizon 3, you can adjust the game to suit your playstyle. Racing enthusiasts can make the game feel as realistic as they want. At the same time, you don’t have to have any deep knowledge of cars to jump into the game and enjoy a more casual experience. This makes Forza Motorsport 7 a much more approachable racing simulator than something like Project CARS.
It’s great that the game doesn’t demand much of the player, because there’s definitely a lot of content to be enjoyed. The single player campaign, dubbed the ‘Forza Driver’s Cup’, features six Championship series. Each one contains a collection of races that are spread out in groups dedicated to different types of vehicles. Playing the campaign is a great way to familiarize yourself with all the different vehicles in the game, and also the different tracks. Not to mention that the more races you complete will earn you more cash so you can buy and upgrade more cars.
Speaking of vehicles, there’s quite a lot here. The game proudly touts that it offers over 700 different vehicles to drive. The phrase “there’s something for everyone” definitely applies here! While a lot of racing games require players to complete race after race and work their way up the ranks to unlock new cars, the vast amount offered here in Forza Motorsport 7 would make the unlocking process take forever. As a result, you gain access to new vehicles by means of buying new vehicles. Let me explain. The more vehicles you buy, the more your Collector Score will increase. As this increases, you will gain access to new vehicle tiers, with there being five in all. The higher the price of the vehicle, the more points you will earn in order to increase your Collector Score. So, there’s always an incentive to do a lot of racing in order to buy new cars! It must be noted that not every vehicle can be obtained just by purchasing. There are some vehicles which must be unlocked the old fashioned way by means of completing special races, or getting them in timed events like the Forzathon. Regardless, having over 700 vehicles to choose from should definitely keep you busy for quite some time.
There are new cars, old cars, really fast cars, electric cars, and even cars that aren’t actually ‘cars’. There’s even ATVs, limousines and racing trucks—racing semitrucks. That’s why I’ve been mostly using the word “vehicle” instead of just “cars”. Remember when you were a kid and collected a ton of Hot Wheels and Matchbox toys? Forza Motorsport 7’s immense list of vehicles is basically that, except virtualized.
Forza Motorsport 7 is a dream come true for any car collector.
With there being so many different vehicles to drive across a pretty sizeable selection of tracks, it’s safe to say that they all offer unique experiences. Driving a racing truck definitely isn’t the same as driving a Formula One car in real life, and neither is that the case here in the game. As a result, you not only need to learn how to be a good racer, you also need to be a good driver in order to handle all the different types of vehicles that the game has to offer. It definitely makes the overall gameplay experience a lot more interesting and enjoyable.
The tracks also require you to learn how to adapt. They’re all real-world locations and as a result, they offer their own experiences. Some tracks are big and open, while others are narrow circuits filled with twists and turns. Some tracks will have you racing under nice sunny skies, while others will have you sweating like mad because you’re trying to make hairpin turns in a thunderstorm that gradually gets more intense. Forza Motorsport 7 always seems to be throwing something else at you to keep you on your toes, and that definitely makes the experience more fun…and also just a tad bit frustrating when you inevitably mess up. But, it’s all about practice.
Another way the game spices up its formula is with Mods. I’m not actually referring to car modifications, but rather race modifications. Applying mods to a race will thus create a mini challenge for you to earn more cash and experience points. For instance, one mod will want you to stay on the track for an entire lap, while another will require you to finish within the top three or top five. Applying mods to a race is a cool way to shake things up in a minor way. They’re earned through buying Crates, which can be purchased with the ingame Credits. More expensive Crates will contain better things like ‘Legendary’ cars. As you can see, a big part of Forza Motorsport 7 is racing to buy cars so you can race even more to buy even more. It’s a really big collectathon!
Forza Motorsport 7 doesn’t just play very well, it also looks amazing. The lighting effects which are fully shown off by the different times of day look absolutely beautiful. Rain or shine, the various weather effects also look stunning. Some of the environments look so beautiful that I actually found myself sometimes getting distracted and gazing at the scenery instead of focusing on the race. To all of the art directors who worked on this game, bravo to you! In addition to the stunning visuals, the sound design is also top notch. Every engine roars and even the way the sound interacts with the surrounding environment is realistic. The lack of any background music during races allows you to become fully immersed in the rich sound quality that the game has to offer. If you have a good sound system or headset, you’re in for a treat.
‘Beauty Mode’ is basically on all the time.
Overall, I’m pleased with what Forza Motorsport 7 has to offer. With so many vehicles to collect, all of which offer a different race experience, the game continuously feels fresh rather than repetitive. Since the AI cars are actually apart of the Drivatar system, that also changes up the experience because you’ll technically always be racing against other Forza players, including your friends. This adds a social flare to the game that other racers don’t have.
While there’s a lot of good things here, Forza Motorsport 7 isn’t without its issues. As I said in the title, this racer offers some serious fast-paced fun, but there are a few speed bumps in the road that stop it from being as good as it could be. These issues are all related to optimization problems on PC. Ironically, I’m tempted to say that Forza Motorsport 7 is probably one of the most well-tuned games on PC because of how it strives to keep the gameplay experience as smooth as possible with its constant dynamic optimization. But, that optimization is inconsistent.
The main problem lies with the in-game menus. Both before and after a race, the menu stutters. The same is true during most cutscenes which just can’t seem to keep a consistent framerate despite being pre-rendered. The biggest offender is the Car Customization menus, which turn the game into a sluggish mess. I was able to customize just a few of my cars, but most of the time going into that menu will cause the game to slow down to a totally inoperable speed and will eventually freeze not just the game but the entire computer. I’ve had to wait for literal minutes to try and exit the game because of the framerate issues in the menu. The fact that it kills the performance of my entire computer is especially alarming.
I can totally understand that optimizing a game for PC is a much more complicated experience than that of optimizing for consoles. With PCs, developers have to get their game to be able to run on 1000s of different hardware configurations. With consoles, there’s only one configuration that has to be taken into account.
Strange optimization issues are the only thing holding Forza back from being the best racing simulator on PC yet.
Even so, Forza Motorsport 7 is a game from a Microsoft studio. As a result, I think it’s appropriate to hold the developers at a slightly higher standard than usual. Considering that Forza Horizon 3 had similar performance issues for about the first six months after release, I find it rather upsetting that Motorsport 7 is dealing with similar problems. It’s not just me, either. When the demo was released a few weeks ago, many PC players with more powerful systems than even my own complained about having performance problems. All of it appears to deal with the game overloading data on only one CPU core, despite it being capable of utilizing multiple cores. Turn 10 Studios needs to address this as quickly possible.
My last complaint about the PC version of the game has to deal with its filesize. Due to technical issues related to my hard drive, I had to download Forza Motorsport 7 about four times. What made this even more annoying was that the game’s file size clocks in at a massive 100GB. Forza Horizon 3 was an open-world game and it’s not even that big. So, what’s the reason? It has to do with the 4K assets that are included. While I think it’s great that Turn 10 made sure the game was 4K-ready, they also gave this game surprisingly modest system requirements for a 2017 release. That means that there are quite a number of players out there who will be diving in with systems that are definitely not 4K-capable.
So, everyone will have to suffer through the 100GB download whether their system can actually make use of the enhanced assets or not. Not only does this mean that extra space is being taken up (RIP SSD users), but it also means that those with inadequate Internet connections will need to exercise serious patience. Since the Windows Store isn’t the best at handling download speeds, it makes the situation even worse. It took me about six hours to download the game, which was simply infuriating. The Xbox One X version of the game offers the option of downloading the additional 4K texture pack, so I don’t understand why this isn’t also the case for the PC version. If anything, the situation should be the other way around since the Xbox One X has been built for the entire purpose of being a 4K machine.
Ultimately, these issues hold the PC version of Forza Motorsport 7 back. But, it’s not a massive detriment to the experience. When the game behaves itself, it runs very well and is an absolute joy to play. Not to mention it’s simply beautiful to look at in every way. Hopefully, Turn 10 will be able to get rid of the performance issues like they did with Forza Horizon 3. When that happens, Forza Motorsport 7 will arguably become the best racing simulator to hit PC yet.