rAge 2017: Forza Motorsport 7 hands-on

So, firstly, some explanation. I have received Forza Motorsport 7 for review. I actually own the game on my Microsoft account. However, thanks to the fact that the game eats drive space like a black hole consumes nearby stars, it’s actually been a bit of a rollercoaster ride downloading the game through the Store. Despite my attempts at making it work, I didn’t have it downloaded before coming to rAge, so this hands-on with the final version of the game also serves as a primer for my review.

Microsoft’s stand at rAge was really well done and laid out spaciously to allow crowds to gather and still move through the stand. The Forza demos were running on an Xbox One X with a 4K HDR-capable display attached to the racing seat, and the experience is pretty good. Not only does a game like Forza deserve to be played with a wheel, it’s the best experience you can have with the game. Logitech’s G920 Driving Force wheels were used here, and the integration with Forza Motorsport 7 is well done.

By now, you might have heard about some of the controversy surrounding the game, as well as the kind of compromises Turn 10 had to make to hit the 60fps mark at 4K. Things like 3D trees and higher-resolution backdrops in some areas were taken out of the game, and this applies to the PC version as well, for now (a 4K patch for PC and Xbox One X coming later this year will add in more high-fidelity objects). In practice, these compromises allow the game to feel smooth at each turn, no matter how many things might be happening in front of you. There are no frame drops, no stutters, and there’s nothing to suggest that it’s running on a console at all.

The driving experience is also very well honed. I picked up a Porsche 911 GTS and ran it through the Dubai circuit several times. It’s tail-happy, just like a real Porsche, and there’s definitely a particular driving style that needs to be employed to drive the car fast and accurately (boxer engines need to be higher in the rev range to adapt quickly to changing conditions), which means that manual transmission needs to be used if you want to shave off seconds in your lap time. The game’s auto mode works well, but it isn’t as responsive as I would have liked. If the Driving Force shifter had been included here, I think that would have made for a more enjoyable experience than the paddles behind the wheel.

I spent as much time as I could figuring things out, and by the third race I had the basics down. There’s a lot more to Forza than what you see on the surface, and you can’t just pick it up and appreciate it quickly. You need at least an hour with it, preferably with a wheel, before you get a sense of how the game works, and whether you like it or not.

Which is what I plan to do next week. Eventually, if it can be downloaded.

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