Tag Archive: Turn 10 Studios


In recent years, Forza has surged to the head of the pack in the racing genre. Basically going annual with a steady rotation back and forth between its main series and Horizon spinoff, Forza has become synonymous with top-notch racing. Forza titles have come to be known for delivering highly customizable gameplay that caters to a range of audiences, no matter whether they’re looking for an arcade racer or sim-heavy experience—while also innovating with features like Driveatars. However, with the latest main series release in the form of Forza Motorsport 7, the franchise may have been caught looking in its rear-view mirror at the competition hot on its tail, taking its eyes off the road long enough to make a couple of costly errors that might let that competition close the gap.

Forza Motorsport 7 features a suite of offline and online modes meant to engage players like never before. The game touts 32 tracks—the most ever in a Forza game—with more than 200 different configurations. The game’s only completely brand new track, Dubai (highlighted by features like sand blowing across the asphalt), is joined by dozens of returning tracks from Forza 6 as well as fan-favorites Suzaka, Mugello, and Maple Valley (brilliantly re-created for the first time on this generation of console after being last seen in Forza 4). This balance of tracks from throughout Forza’s history goes a long way to keeping the experience feeling fresh, as players know it’ll be a while before they might see the same track twice.

You’ll get to tackle many of those track configurations in the new single-player campaign that tasks you with climbing the ranks in six different championships, culminating in the Forza Driver’s Cup. There are a variety of different circuits in each championship—usually themed around familiar motifs seen in other Forza games like Hot Hatch or Classic Muscle cars—as you try to collect enough points to stand atop the podium and unlock the next championship. Each championship also has a few Showcase events that will test your driving skills in different and exciting ways. Some, like the car bowling featured in Top Gear, return from previous games; others, like besting professional rally car driver Ken Block in a head-to-head race in identical cars, adds a more personal twist to a familiar racing mechanic, as Block gives you some narration before the race as to why you’re racing those particular cars.

I will say the commentary is a bit weak this go-around from the Forza folks. Whether it’s the game’s general narrator droning on, one of any number of professional racers who sound like they’re definitely more comfortable behind a steering wheel than a microphone, or even some Top Gear magazine editors who are taking themselves a bit too seriously, I’d usually try to skip any audio introductions and get right into each race as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, the rest of Forza 7’s presentation is stellar as usual. The game’s 700 cars—including a ton of Porsches after Microsoft’s latest partnership deal, and some other cars admittedly ported directly over from Forza Horizon 3—still look absolutely stellar on the track. And, to no one’s shock, each car handles as you would expect, with it feeling like you’re fighting to keep some cars on the track as they hit 200 MPH, while others corner like a dream even though their top speed is nothing to write home about.

Also making its way over from Horizon 3 is that game’s dynamic weather system. Night and rain are nothing new on Forza tracks. However, having the sky suddenly open up on a track three laps in on a four-lap race, or starting a race at sunset and having the sky turn pitch black over eight laps at Daytona, is a nice addition to the mainline series here.

Forza Motorsport 7 also upped its game when it comes to personalization. Not only is its vaunted car customization suite, which allows you to paint and modify the look and tuning of your car, back and bigger than ever, but you can also now customize your driver to a degree. Over 100 different track suits are available in the game, and you can make your driver (male or female) wear any of them to really send a message about who they (and, thus, you) are. I’d still love to see this taken to the next level at some point, where we can customize our suits to a level of detail that we can the cars we drive, but this is another step in the right direction for the series.

Not everything that has been added or changed about Forza 7 has been a success, though. To try to lower the barrier of entry into the series even further, a brand new Easy Mode has been added that simplifies the controls to the point where you’re barely even controlling the car anymore. While I don’t mind adding this feature for folks who might feel they really need it, I do mind the fact that the old system of rewarding more credits for those of us that like bumping up the game’s difficulty and turning off any number of assists has been abandoned. Considering how difficult it can be sometimes to purchase the really high-end cars with in-game currency, this change feels like it’s only increasing the grind.

This all leads us into the new Mods system. Mods were introduced in Forza 6 as a way to challenge yourself even further when you played the game. Some Mods would give you speed boosts, but it would come at the sacrifice of handling; others might kill your acceleration, but improve your cornering ability. Each card could be used as many times as you wanted, and were a neat little optional addition that experienced players could use to further enhance their playtime. There were also some limited-use, super-rare Mods that would modify your driving ability, but also reward credit or XP boosts.

Now, all Mods fall into this category. Every Mod you use only has one to five uses depending on rarity, and can reward you with credits or XP, and even occasionally both. In order to get these Mods, you have to spend in-game currency to open loot boxes—the more currency you spend, typically the rarer the Mod. So, you start spending in-game currency to earn more in-game currency, to spend in-game currency, to earn more in-game currency, to spend in-game currency, to earn more in-game currency, and the cycle continues. Unfortunately, it typically costs a lot more to buy those Mods than the credits you earn from using them, especially when you don’t know how many credits a given race will net you. Using a Mod that gives you an additional 30% credits at the end of the race is great, but if you don’t know if you’re winning 10,000 credits or 5,000 credits for a first-place finish means there’s also a bit of a gamble when you use the card. All in all, it makes you wonder why you would even bother with the Mod system at all at this point.

But then, there are also loot boxes that give Mods plus cars or track suits (some of which are only available in said loot boxes). So, some of the fanciest cars and prettiest track suits—not there’s that many of them—are behind this randomizer. You won’t need them to beat the game or hop online to play friends, of course, but if there is a car you really want stuck in a loot box, you’re in a pretty tough spot. There is also a new leveling system for your garage, where buying certain low-level cars will help you unlock high-level cars faster. This all seems to really try to pressure you in some not so subtle ways to buy into the game’s microtransactions system.

Also, surprisingly, a lot of online features for Forza 7 aren’t available at launch. Forza Leagues and, curiously, even the Auction House still aren’t up and running even at the writing of this review. Turn 10 says they’ll get them up soon, but we’re kind of in the dark as to when specifically. The microtransactions and store also aren’t up and running, so we can’t accurately judge how they might tempt people into spending real world cash—just that, like those other features, we know they are coming, like one of those dynamic weather storms I mentioned earlier. The rest of Forza 7’s online features seem to be working fine, and you can still easily race up to two dozen other players online at any given time with no lag thus far in our experience. Beyond that, you can upload race screens from Photo Mode or replays of your races, as well as all of your custom car designs to Forza’s servers with no issue.

Forza Motorsport 7 has done everything you’d want from a racing game sequel—more cars, more tracks, and the return of that tight gameplay—showing why Turn 10’s efforts remain the leader of the pack. The new Mod and in-game currency systems, however, really detract from what is otherwise another great racing experience—and might make you want to think twice before jumping into the driver’s seat again if you’re not big on grinding for those credits.

Publisher: Microsoft Studios • Developer: Turn 10 Studios • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 10.03.17
7.5
Forza Motorsport 7 is a really great racing game—it’s just a shame that changes to the game’s currency system undermine a fair amount of what it does right. It’s made racing feel more like a grind than in years past and no amount of new tracks or cars will change that.
The Good Game looks great and the cars all handle superbly.
The Bad Changes to how you can earn credits and the mod system increase grinding and feel like they’re paving the way for some awful microtransactions.
The Ugly A lot of these new driver suits. Yuck.
Forza Motorsport 7 is available on Xbox One and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Microsoft for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.
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When Forza Horizon first launched four years ago as a spin-off of Forza, many of us were pleasantly surprised by how it was able to tone down the seriousness of the main series while still making an extremely competent racing game. As time has gone on and we’ve fallen into an annual cycle of Forza followed by Forza Horizon, what once was a spin-off has now turned into a series all its own—one that now rivals its parent in every way. And, with the release of Forza Horizon 3, it may even surpass the mainline series in key areas.

For those who might be unaware, the Forza Horizon games are set up around a traveling fictional festival called Horizon that’s like a cross between Woodstock and Top Gear, and this year’s game is headed to a land down under. Whereas the original saw you rise up the ranks to dominate the event, and the second one had you as king of Horizon from the start, Forza Horizon 3 basically just makes you the festival’s God this go around.

From what radio stations can be heard at the festival’s hubs throughout Australia, to what part of Australia Horizon will expand to next, all the decisions are yours. You can even customize your license plate and what your assistant will call you via a list of names. Yes, I admit I enjoyed the fact that my assistant actually called me Ray and all my cars’ license plates said “Carsillo” on the back—it’s a little thing, but that added hint of personalization was a nice touch. Unfortunately, it also made the fact that you can then only choose from a dozen or so generic, hipster-looking avatars to represent your “face” just as disappointing as the license plate customization was fun.

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These are only minor details, however. The heart of Forza has always been the cars, and Horizon 3 does not disappoint. Over 350 cars are available at the game’s launch—the most in Forza Horizon history—and, as always, plenty of car packs will be coming in the future. The game also maintains the series’ high standard of stunning car models that contrast terrifically against the picturesque backdrops inspired by an amalgamation of Australia’s coasts, forests, and deserts. The big additions this time around aside from the usual list of new supercars are dune buggies. Since a quarter of Horizon 3’s mashed-up rendition of Australia is the Outback, dune buggies are great for crossing the desert terrain at high speeds and pulling off crazy stunts to fill up your score meter.

At first, the buggies took some time to get used to, because they handle completely differently from any other car in Forza’s long lineage. By the time I was done with the game, though, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough races inside these off-road masters, bobbing up and down through the countryside, and was actually disappointed when I was placed back in a luxury car or sporty speedster depending on what race I was doing.

Speaking of racing, it remains at the core of what you’ll be doing in Horizon 3. There are 63 tracks set up across the game for you to unlock and play through, with more unlocked by expanding and growing the festival. This is done by earning fans, which you can do through winnings races, completing one-off special objectives in 30 brand-new bucket list courses, winning showcase events against unusual race opponents like speed boats and fighter jets, and completing “PR stunts” like daredevil jumps and burning rubber through drift and speed zones.

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Each individual race location not only has the standard single race, but later you can also unlock three-to-five race championships with new themes for each course. For example, a single exhibition race in the Outback might have you racing off-road trucks like the Ford F-150 Raptor, but the same course’s championship might be themed around rally legends like the Suburu Impreza, giving each track more replayability as you race different vehicles.

If that wasn’t enough, Forza Horizon 3 also introduces the new Blueprint feature to both racecourses and bucket list events, which allows you to set your own stipulations that you can then share with the Forza community. You could create a perfect storm of racing nothing but high-end supercars like the Lamborghini Centenario along the curving coastline, or punish people by sticking those same sports cars on an off-road track in the rainforest and see if they can’t maintain their traction. The same goes for the bucket list Blueprints, but like most other games where you can create your own courses, you have to be able to beat your own challenges before uploading for others to play. In theory, you could have an endless stream of fresh content coming into Forza Horizon 3 long after this initial launch window.

Another major addition to Forza Horizon 3 comes in the form of its online multiplayer. You’ve always been able to take on friends head-to-head, but Horizon 3 adds it so that you can now experience the construction of a Horizon festival from the ground-up together. Campaign co-op, which is also available in cross-platform play, allows you to join a friend’s game or vice versa in order to help each other complete objectives or find hidden bonuses like landmarks or barn finds to fill out your worlds. Any progress made in each other’s games carries over to your single-player game as well, so there’s no need to do something twice if you don’t want to.

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The emphasis on co-op doesn’t end there, however. Even if your friend isn’t online, the new Convoy feature means their Drivatar can ride with you and help you, too. By winning street races against specifically marked Drivatars, you can add up to three Drivatars to your Convoy. And if you want to replace someone in your lineup, simply street race another person and fire one of the old drivers. Having and riding with a full Convoy means not only a better chance for you to find hidden secrets and earn more credits, but your friends will be earning credits even while offline.

Of course, more online-driven endeavors has meant more server strain that normal in the Forza community. Even a week after launching, there are still occasional connection issues in regards to things like leaderboards, some of the Blueprints, and finding strangers online to race with or against. Groove Music—Microsoft’s digital music streaming service that has been added to the game to allow players a chance to finally have custom music playing while driving—works only about half the time, too. I’m driving a million dollar car, and the damn radio is broken.

These online hiccups aside, Forza Horizon 3 is a racing lover’s dream. The insane stunts and off-the-wall challenges remain hugely entertaining, and being able to incorporate your friends more into that has only added a new wrinkle of replayability to the game. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more complete racing experience than this one, and in many ways has possibly eclipsed the mainline Forza series in terms of fun and enjoyability.

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Publisher: Microsoft Studios • Developer: Playground Games • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 09.27.16
9.5
Forza Horizon 3 pulls out all the stops to provide one of most fluid and enjoyable racing experiences out there. A must have for casual car fans and hardcore gearheads alike, Forza Horizon 3 may even surpass the mainline series in terms of fun with this effort.
The Good Gorgeous looking, excellent handling, and more content than ever before in one package.
The Bad Occasional issues with connecting to people and features online.
The Ugly Constantly forgetting that Australians drive on the other side of the road and getting into lots of head-on collisions because of it.
Forza Horizon 3 is available on Xbox One and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Microsoft for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

Leaving the competition in its dust

Forza has become the Call of Duty of racing games. Every autumn for the past five years, a new entry in the franchise—counting the Horizon spin-offs—has been released. So, I was worried this year’s entry would simply be another mediocre improvement over the past couple of games, and that it might grow boring without the open-world gimmick or festival backdrop of Horizon. I was wrong. Just like how Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, or any other annual franchise is sometimes able to overcome the limitations that inherently pop up from a 12-month release cycle and knock one out of the park, Forza Motorsport 6 similarly takes the series to new heights.

As soon as you start the game, you’ll be introduced to the first major change in Forza 6: its Career mode, which is broken up into two separate parts. The first is “Stories of Motorsport.” Here, Forza 6 takes it upon itself to explain how much racing touches our lives, while guiding us on a tour through the world’s greatest tracks and hottest automobiles. Beginning with street legal sports cars, Career moves through five separate volumes. In each, you’ll race through three different series comprised of four to six tracks before being allowed to advance to the next volume, which feature progressively more impressive and powerful cars.

A nice touch in helping to get the message across is the history you’re given of the cars you’re driving, why they appeal to people, and what to expect over the course of your circuit—all narrated by guest commentators ranging from Top Gear’s Richard Hammond and James May to winners of IndyCar or the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I came to look forward to the little tidbits of info each intro gave me before a race, like Watkins Glen holding the first pro race post-WWII in the US, or that the tower at Circuit of the Americas is 251-feet tall.

Stories is a great twist on Forza’s Career, and the loose narrative really helps pull you through the mode—especially when the same tracks start to repeat. For me, though, the real fun began with the second part of Career: the new Showcase events. Showcase events originally debuted in Horizon as special one-off races in ridiculous but fun scenarios where you’d race planes, trains, as well as automobiles.

In Forza 6, the Showcase events are actually 10 different series of themed challenges. Some, like those inspired by Top Gear, are more light-hearted, such as bowling with a Jaguar F-Type or racing against the “Digital Cousin” of the Stig. Others are more purely race driven, such as passing challenges or turning trials inspired by those you’d see at the Bondurant High Performance Driving school. There are even endurance challenges where you’re asked to go literally dozens of laps in one race. Similarly to Horizon’s showcases, each of these special challenges will put your skills to the test in ways that are anything but dull.

Forza 6 didn’t just focus on the single player when it came to changes, however. Multiplayer remains a big aspect of the game, and it starts by making the online experience a lot less intimidating for folks. While there will always be those in the online community who care more about crashing into other players than actual racing, Forza 6 is trying to help serious racers find better-quality races through a new online mode called Leagues.

Leagues run races over a period of time and will be broken down into a variety of car types. The more you race in a given league over the time period it’s open for, and the better you place, the more likely you are to win the league and get a nice payout of credits. The main difference between Leagues and traditional multiplayer is that everyone in these league races are ghosts. You are still racing live players, but the fear of an untimely collision costing you a pedestal position is gone. Leagues offer players a chance to still play other like-minded racing fans, but the competition falls squarely on how well you can or cannot drive, without affecting anyone else around you.

This is a brilliant move for Forza, and should only help the competition aspects of its online features. Leagues also shouldn’t affect the traditional multiplayer audience too much, as they’re locked into certain car types when created. Traditional multiplayer, meanwhile, will let you customize each individual race on the fly, still giving players a sense of freedom—even if all they want to do is see a BMW M3 T-bone a Corvette.

These changes to single- and multiplayer should add a lot of replayability to the game. But, they’re only one part of what makes this a great racing package. Forza 6 continues the series’ legacy of great driving physics and gorgeous graphics. Plus, the game is launching with 460 cars and 26 tracks on disc, far more than were available at release for Forza 5. Each race can now support 24 cars both in online and offline modes, making for some epic 24-player multiplayer League sessions—which I tested and saw working without any issue whatsoever. Of course, this was a week prior to the launch of Forza 6, so it’ll be interesting to see if everything holds up on day one.

The most impressive part about the gameplay now, though, has to be the night and rain aspects. Although both were introduced in Horizon 2, they’ve been revamped for Forza 6 in ways to make each track that supports them feel completely different in those variants. Puddles now accumulate on asphalt, forcing you to brave plowing through them or altering your course to steer clear, as hydroplaning is a legitimate concern. The gleam of headlights in your rearview mirror at night can become a distraction, with light sources acting dynamically in ways we’ve never seen from a racing game before. And different surfaces will react in distinctive ways to each one, as dirt becomes muddy in the rain, and track barriers may throw off unexpected glare depending on what angle your headlights catch them at. For those tracks where these new options are available, driving in the rain or at night keeps the experience feeling fresh, and makes each track variation feel like an entirely brand new course.

Not every track supports rain or night, however—and since many tracks are being carried over from Forza 5, you’re likely to get an unwelcome case of déjà vu with courses like Laguna Seca that remain entirely the same. Sure, some such as Rio have reverse versions, and it’s more realistic since not every track will run at night or in the rain, but it would’ve been nice to pull back on the sim a little and give every track at least one of those variations.

Speaking of toning down the sim, also returning is the bevy of assist options to help customize your racing experience, boosted with two major additions. First, you can now adjust Drivatar AI when racing offline. This means that if you don’t feel like facing particularly aggressive drivers, you can now dumb down the Drivatars so you have a more civil racing event.

The other major addition comes in the forms of Mods, which can be purchased as packs in the same way as you would new cars. Some Mods make the race more difficult, like lowering a car’s stats but rewarding you with more credits and XP at the end of a race. Others give cars boosts to stats or improve payouts. How you utilize them is up to you, and depends on what experience you’re looking for.

And while on the subject of credits, the final major change we see in Forza 6 this go around is with the game’s economy. There are no microtransactions at launch; whether or not this means they’ll be added later is another story, but at the very least, everything you get on day one is earnable in Forza 6. And with the Horizon 2 prize spinner coming over—now with a Press Your Luck game show flair instead of a slot machine motif—it’s easier than ever to earn credits, with huge bonuses coming your way when you level up both your driver and your car affinity. Admittedly, it still takes some time to grind for those really expensive, seven-digit price tag cars like a Bugatti Veyron or a Chevy IndyCar, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was in previous games.

By taking and improving on elements from the Horizon games, re-vitalizing the Career mode, introducing new modes like Leagues, and adding night and rain to the gameplay, Forza Motorsport 6 is without a doubt the best game the series has seen yet. If the franchise continues to grow and change at this rate, then it’ll be a welcome sight on the annual list of autumn game releases for years to come. For this season, though, Forza 6 is a must-play for all racing game fans.

Developer: Turn 10 Studios • Publisher: Microsoft • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 09.15.15
9.5
Forza Motorsport 6 is a welcome shot in the arm for the series. Easily the best entry the franchise has produced, Forza 6 introduces tons of new online and offline gameplay that should make players want to stay in the driver’s seat for as long as possible this fall.
The Good Rain and night provide enough variation and new challenge to forget about the repetition in tracks. Superb graphics and physics.
The Bad Can still feel like a bit of a grind when saving up for the most expensive cars.
The Ugly Having someone other than a member of the Top Gear team introduce The Stig.
Forza Motorsport 6 is a Xbox One exclusive. Review code was provided by Microsoft for the benefit of this review.

When you start up Forza Motorsport 6‘s Career Mode for the first time, you’ll have to prove that you’re ready to handle the tracks it’ll throw at you by taking part in three qualifying races.

These races will show off the game’s newest features, while also giving you a prime chance to get those tires warm again and earn some easy credits to start filling out your garage with the 460 cars that will be featured at launch. Here are those three races, as I ran them, in their entirety.

If you want to learn more about Forza 6 before it comes out, check out our interview with Turn 10 Studios’ Content Director, John Wendl, as we got to talk about how rain affects the gameplay, the new Mods feature, and more.

Forza Motorsport 6 will be available exclusively for Xbox One on September 15th.