While Forza games are a dime a dozen, Forza Motorsport could be the most pivotal installment of the series to date. Set to launch on October 10, the racing simulator is aiming to change the trajectory of Xbox’s long-running series. It’s being positioned as a live-service platform that’s built to last for a good chunk of the Xbox Series X’s life cycle, if not the entire thing. It’s a similar approach that Halo Infinite was poised to take, though Forza Motorsport seems like it’s in a much better position to pull it off.
To do that, though, this edition of Forza Motorsport needs to be the most tuned-up version yet, and developer Turn 10 Studios seems to understand that. At a demo session during the Xbox Games Showcase, the studio walked press through the newly retooled version of Forza, which is filled with impactful innovations that could give it a very long tail. That includes a new approach to car customization, surprising RPG components, and a potentially groundbreaking new accessibility feature that could raise the bar for racing games at large.
The demo I saw largely revolved around Forza Motorsport’s career mode, Builder’s Cup. This time around, players don’t just roll through a series of races. Instead, goals are split up into three phases: Practice Sessions, Challenge the Grid, and Races. Those three phases make up what sounds like a natural gameplay loop.
In Practice Sessions, players get a chance to test drive their car around a race track. Every corner of the track becomes its own objective, as an on-screen UI tracks players’ best time. This mode isn’t just meant for practice, though. Cars level up this time, and players get experience points for driving tasks like completing turns. Turn 10 calls it a “CarPG” and jokes that corners are like enemies in Forza Motorsport. It’s all meant to add a layer of progression that encourages players to improve their skills.
When players are ready to race, they’re sent to phase two of career mode: Challenge the Grid. Here, they can set different options for the race, which affect their payout. For instance, players can change their starting position in a race, change AI difficulty, tweak the penalty system, and more. The more difficult players make the race conditions, the higher the payout becomes. It’s a smart risk-reward system that lets players bet on themselves. Then, the Races this series is known for will begin.
Turn 10 wants Builder’s Cup to last a long time, so it’s planning to adopt a more aggressive update schedule from day one. The mode will get content like new cars and tracks weekly rather than relying on a seasonal cadence. With that flow, the studio’s hope is to support this version of Forza Motorsport for a long, long time. Turn 10 says it went into development imagining it as the last game it would ever ship and says there are currently no plans to make a direct sequel. It’s in it for the long haul, and the team is confident that it knows how to make that happen.
A few more innovations will help Turn 10 achieve that goal. The first comes from a newly retooled car customization system, which the team describes as a “built, not bought” system. If a player decides to uninstall a part from their custom car, they’ll have all of the car points they spent on it completely refunded. The developers once again compare it to an RPG system, explaining it as players getting to “respec” their cars anytime. That should give drivers more freedom to freely experiment without penalty.
The most exciting tidbit, however, comes from Forza Motorsport’s approach to accessibility. When asked about the subject, Turn 10 called the game “the most accessible racing simulator ever.” In addition to including previous innovations, the new installment adds a notable one-button option to its suite of accessibility tools. That setting lets players only control one function while letting AI take care of the rest. For instance, a player could choose to only use a button to control the car’s gas, leaving the computer to control the brakes. That control scheme should give a wider array of players to get into a tough, technical genre.
All of those changes and innovations seem like a step in the right direction for Turn 10 as it embarks on its most ambitious Forza game to date. It’s most certainly feeling like a game that’s built to last rather than an annualized racing game that’ll have a new model next year. If it’s all executed with pinpoint precision, that could help Forza Motorsport take first place in Xbox Series X’s live service race.
Forza Motorsport launches on October 10 for Xbox Series X/S and PC.
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