Forza Motorsport 7 truly spotlights the power of Xbox One X

When the Xbox One X was officially unveiled a few months ago, Forza Motorsport 7 was adopted as the poster child of the console's capabilities. While other major Microsoft Studios titles were still promising enhancements for their launches in 2018, Microsoft's flagship racing franchise kicked off its E3 showcase with a slick trailer comprised of in-game 4K footage.

With the console's unveiling out of the way, the focus now lies of the games coming to the Xbox One X in the months ahead. The Forza series has played a huge part in marketing new Xbox One consoles in the past – most notably the Xbox One's initial launch back in 2013, where Forza Motorsport 5 took center stage. Four years later, the beautifully-crafted presentation of Forza still makes for a perfect way of showing the capabilities of the new hardware.

Earlier this month, we got the chance to get hands-on with Forza Motorsport 7, as a part of one of the world's biggest video game conventions, Gamescom 2017. Given free rein to choose between various cars and tracks, we had the opportunity to experience a significant snippet of what the final experience plans to offer. And while its hundreds of promised cars, dozens of tracks and gameplay tweaks are all enticing features, its visuals are where Forza Motorsport 7 truly transcends the competition.

The push for 4K

With the Xbox One X pushing games targeting 4K, one of the biggest improvements of Forza Motorsport 7 is its improved resolution on the console. Like recent installments of the franchise, the game aims to hit 1080p on original Xbox One hardware, but with the additional resources of Xbox One X, Forza Motorsport 7 is now able to hit a consistent native 4K.

Support for 4K adds an unmatched level of clarity to Forza Motorsport 7 – something that makes the game feel truly outstanding in comparison to previous titles. Following the resolution bump, gameplay feels continuously sharp and sleek and only helped by its seemingly consistent 60 frames per second (FPS) frame rate.

Between both the improved resolution and form of antialiasing used, this also reduces a noticeable issue that plagued previous Forza titles. When dealing with large, open environments, shimmering textures are now much less frequent – a jumpy visual blunder caused when objects are rendered at distance.

Due to the nature of their design, racing titles frequently hit much higher targets in both resolution and frame rate. While several upcoming games on the platform utilize checkerboarding techniques or dynamic resolutions to achieve 4K, Forza Motorsport 7 is one of the few games promising true Ultra HD at launch.

The potential of the full spectrum

Like many titles leveraging the additional processing capabilities of the Xbox One X, Forza Motorsport 7 will also support High Dynamic Range (HDR) on compatible consoles. While still not widely used right now, HDR allows content to display a wider gamut of on-screen colors, making for improved contrast across the board, which often results in a much more realistic and rich output.

While HDR was first introduced into the series last year with Forza Horizon 3, up until now I've been far from convinced by the technology. Sure, it's a great feature to have and adds a nice touch on visuals, but adoption across games isn't set to be truly revolutionary going forward.

However, as seen when being thrown into the mix alongside 4K resolution, HDR undeniably has potential within certain situations. When combined with the clarity of 4K on a high-end display, the difference remains memorable in Forza Motorsport 7, despite Microsoft's previous implementations of HDR failing to grab my interest. HDR might not be a groundbreaking feature when implemented standalone, although the culmination of these two enhancements blends harmoniously.

Pinpoint precision across the board

While the main leaps in Forza Motorsport 7's visuals come from the display technologies used, depth to tracks and their beastly machines are a result of how they're created. Speaking with Creative Director at Forza's creator studio Turn 10, Bill Giese, he explained that the level of detail seen in Forza can be attributed to the use of photogrammetry – a technique that maps high-resolution images into a digital 3D space. By collecting images of real-world locations and cars, in-game counterparts can be created with an unmatched level of accuracy and clarity, through a relatively manageable process.

Not only does this approach result in accurate and detailed textures on Xbox One X versions of the game, these will also be downscaled in use of standard Xbox One versions of the game. This isn't the first instance of photogrammetry being utilized in the Forza series (Microsoft went out of its way to highlight its inclusion in Forza Horizon 3), but with two platforms now capable of delivering 4K experiences, the effects should now be much more noticeable.

The introduction of dynamic weather, a flagship addition for Forza Motorsport 7, also adds another layer of dynamism and depth to the game's world. Turn 10 has continually driven home the diversity of the Forza 7 sandbox and extending this philosophy, dynamic conditions introduce ever-changing variables in both presentation and gameplay.

For now, the dynamic weather is limited mostly to rain and clouds in certain locations, meaning you'll only be seeing these weather patterns in suitable locations. However, even on more static tracks, you can see changing elements in the environments. Whether rainwater collecting on the surface of the Nürburgring, or sand drifting across the tarmac in Dubai, Forza Motorsport 7 still manages to inject vitality into its world through these smaller details.

The best of Xbox One X?

When the Xbox One launches this fall, the console's initial library of in-house titles will likely look rather sparse. However, Forza Motorsport 7 is a worthy launch title to propel the Xbox One X into the market, with some attractive visual enhancements on the hardware.

If you're planning to pick up an Xbox One X this fall, do yourself a favor and consider Forza Motorsport 7 (about $60) at launch. If like me, you may not be the biggest fan of the racing genre, but as a console mostly targeting visual enhancements, the game showcases what the hardware is truly capable of.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

  • I need to see a side by side to convince me about HDR. Don't get me wrong, I'm getting an Oled 4k HDR TV day if Xbox one X release anyway. But I haven't really seen yet what HDR can do. Is it something you can notice in side by side screenshots? Author of this article (sorry if I go back in this app to check who you are, I'll lose my entire comment), can you update with side by side screenshots showing HDR on and off somehow?
  • Sadly, like 4K, HDR is a technology which is really hard to show without actually seeing it in person. One of the problems with the Xbox One X is selling these new advancements to people, but unless you see one in public prior, you're buying the device solely based on a promise. If there are any shows nearby you where you can get hands on with an Xbox One X, I really recommend it (also, I'd assume Microsoft Stores/major games retailers will be showing this around launch). If you're interested in just seeing HDR content though, a lot of stores that sell HDR TVs also show HDR video content in-store nowadays.
  • I went to a local store and I saw a demo of HDR on a Samsung TV. I was really amazed.
  • I purchased a 4k HDR LED tv last year, and I can whole hardely tell you the difference in 1080p to 1080p + HDR is unbelievable. The HDR bump is a larger difference to me than having 4k. But, if you can have 4k + HDR on a video game? Mother of God.
  • I agree.  I bought a 4k HDR Samsung TV last November and the HDR is a bigger difference than the 4K.  I have Sky Q in the UK so watch the premier league football in ultra HD which is a fantastic picture, watch the F1 in ultra HD which is an even better picture as they use better cameras to film I believe, however both are not a match for the Grand Tour on Amazon Prime which is 4k HDR and the picture is amazing.  Not everyone that has seen the TV notices the UHD picture until you show the corresponding HD or SD picture but everyone sees how good the Grand Tour looks. Lucky to have my Xbox one X pre-ordered and can't wait to see how that looks.  Rise of the Tomb Raider from the trailer looks to be superb.
  • And just imagine then with an Oled screen... It'll be as if God came down into your room and touched the screen like the Leonardo di Vinci painting
  • 4K is just pixels. HDR is pure eye candy and once you see it you can't ever go without.
  • not a bad article. However just to point out a few things. Digital Foundry say about the visuals the textures, lighting, effects are all exactly the same as PC. High end. Resolution is actually not the best thing about it.  But further from that did you play the games in Aladins cave? Digital Foundry Said Gears Of War 4 was running in 4K Native with everything turned up to ultra PC settings. Also F1 2017 was native 4K at gamescon with every thing at ultra settings. A few dips in frame rate down to 50fps but their is 2 months to sort that out. They also said F1 2017 was the cleanest image quality of all One X games so far. Unbelieveable. They also said Titanfall 2 matched ultra PC settings to with dynamic resolution. At times hitting 6K res whilst they played it right there at Gamescom. Not saying your wrong. But Gears 4 surely looked amazing at Ganescom.   
  • Didn't Forza 5 try to do this with the 2013 Xbox One.
  • Forza 5 and 6 could do 1080p/60FPS on the original XB1. Did that truly shows the "power" of the XB1? It was struggling to do that with major 3rd party games... The only true way of comparing and showing "power" is benchmarks.
  • I want to know too but I don't want to know just to bash it's probably all marketing anyway besides I'm getting into PC gaming again.
  • How about providing actual benchmark? MS have been talking a lot of the power but why can't they give the console to digital foundry and let them do actual benchamarks of various 3rd party games against a PC?
  • Why, when steam has provided proof that most PC gamers don't have high-end PCs. If you're a PC gamer, then play on PC, but many of us can't afford a PC comparable to an One X, and many of us don't want to deal with the intricacies of PC gaming.
  • @JasonH81 I'm not sure what's you're problem with my comment? I'm asking MS to show us gamers how powerful this console actually is. Isn't it better that we have all the information? Why hide information? They talk about power, then show us what it's capable of. Here, we see all these MS/XB "fans" speculating and talking bs with no actual evidence. Misleading consumers with nonsense or selling false dreams to people who don't know better...
  • i have no problem with you, i don't know you. I responded to your question. TitanFall 2 is multiplat, so is The Witcher 3, Toombraider and several other games mentioned. Digital Foundry has done a couple videos about games at Gamescom. The console won't be released for another couple of months, so they haven't given out retail copies to for testing yet. You're behaving aggrieved, as if they've wronged you somehow. This is normal release strategy for all tech.
  • @JasonH81 I never said you had a problem with me but with my comment.  The videos by Digital foundry aren't benchmark. The console is suppose to be out in just around 2 months.  They haven't wronged me in anyway. But they are talking about all that power but are not actually showing it. If power and resolution is suppose to be the main selling point then why don't they just show it? Let them show the actual power. This will actually do more good for them. Unless they don't actually want people to know how this compares against PC... I believe my initial question was pro-consumer. Don't you think that if they show us, it is this is a good thing for consumers? Or was your comment a way of defending the interests of a company?
  •  I'm not defending the company, i have no stocks with them; wish i did. I just don't get your question then. If you have a 4K monitor/TV, then you can watch plenty of the released uncompressed footage. Many gaming sites said that the games look great on the retail units that they saw live at gamescom. As far as comparing it to PC, they have marketed it as the most powerful console. Everyone else is comparing it's performance to PC. Console gaming and PC gaming are still two very different things. If you're a PC gamer, then i say stay with it;  and if you can afford a similar spec performing PC, then that'll probably be better. Now if you're a console gamer and want the best graphics available on console, then the One X is where it's at. I'm doubtful there's gonna be many converts.
  • One doesn't need to have stocks in a company to defend it. You don't get my question? It's actually simple. 
    Don't you think, getting more information and benchmark is better for consumers and gamers? Or is it bad in any way? Give all information to people so they can make their own decision.
    Simply saying "it looks great" doesn't count for much because it's just a subjective opinion.  So far we haven't had actual benchmark certain people are speculating and making up stuff. People on this very site have been comparing this to a gaming PC with a GTX 1080 or a GTX 1080 TI.  This is not about converting people. It's about giving information to people. MS is hyping the power of this machine. Am I wrong to ask them to show it to us? Don't you think people should know what exactly they are buying? What improvements they are getting or if it's worth or not to buy the product? Or do you prefer they hide what it's capable of.  I just don't understand. People should be asking for this, at the very least they shouldn't mind it as it doesn't hurt gamers to know the truth...
  •  they had a complete breakdown of Tombraider. They spoke about the graphics modes and compared them to PC and PS4 Pro. Have you seen that vid?
  • I did. It was not really a "complete breakdown" as it was done on a 2 minutes teaser. I was not really compared to PC.  But that's not really a benchamrk. Now is it? Let's see if MS are going to release or provide the platform so we can get true benchmark. Or they are just going to keep it hidden until release...
  • The Digital Foundry benchmarks will come. Just be patient. Digital Foundry got to play on a retail One X at Gamescom 2017. And they have praised what they witnessed massively. Stating huge improvements over their PS4 Pro counterparts. They got to play 3rd party titles like Titanfall 2, Path of Exile, Rise Of The Tomb Raider, F1 2017 to name a few. All of which they claim had visual fidelity like a High end PC. And that's not referring to resolution but things like Texture filtering, high quality assests, shadows etc which all are not present in the PS4 Pro versions. Of course this was with the naked eye. Be absolutely sure when One X hits DF will have countless articles with benchmarks. And you will have your answer in tech specs as to just how much more powerful this baby is over the console competition. 
  • Don't really care of opinions of people. I want numbers, facts...  Also I want true comparison, not only with PS4 pro but also different PCs. And not with MS's games but with major 3rd party games (not just games that have commercial deals with MS)...
  • Well it's not like its some random persons opinion. These guys have been doing this for over a decade. They are the people who provide the tech facts. If they are buzzing about it, its a very very good thing.
  • Right and these people also had a deal with MS when they had exclusive rights to present the hardware. Sorry, I'll always take facts over opinions. Anyone's opinion... But anyway don't you want to see benchmarks? It almost looks like you guys don't want it...
  • Of course we want them. Because it will finally make people quiet about talking rubbish. So many people on the internet claimed all we would get is higher resolution. Or clearer pictures. When in reality developers have been saying we are getting High quality textures, better lighting, more detailed shadows, bigger draw distance, ambient Occlusion etc etc. DigitalnFoundry have actually done a small benchmark for Rise Of The Tomb Raider. Showing PC quality for One X side by side comparison with PS4 Pro which has blurry textures, missing shadows, dips in frame rate, no hair tessalation, completely missing mud and blood details on Lara, lighting missing and no depth of field. All stuff the One X easily does the Pro version can't do. And no dips in performance like the Pro version as well. Again just wait for the One X to release. These tech analysis articles on benchmarks are gonna blow people away. Especially when Titanfall 2 is shown running at 6K at points with PC fidelity and titles like F1 2017 matching PC fidelity to name a few. I'm looking forward to people having no comeback and answer for hard raw facts. Lol.  
  • HAHAHAH It's so funny how you would say "Of course we want them. Because it will finally make people quiet about talking rubbish." and then just post bs and speculation. For your information, about the blood and dirt on Lara's face Digital Foundry provided wrong images and updated it only after people in a forum told them. If you see the updated it's quite a difference. 
    Original screen:
    Here is the updated images:
    I remember they have a deal with MS. I wonder if the initial post has anything to do with that... That's why I want actual benchmark. I don't want to read posts where people mix up everything and post bs. I don't want to read the bs you often post. I don't want to read bs from MS/XB fans trying to sell the XB1x with misleading bs. I want to read facts!!
  • You seem incredibly needy... it certainly seems like you have decided this is all smoke and mirrors and that you are not interested in buying a One X.  So why not just sit tight and see what happens?  Why all the accusations of BS and implying that Micorsoft and Digital Foundry are in cahoots to trick people? Has any console launch ever featured a release of actual detailed benchmarks two months before launch?  I don't think so.  It's usually not in their best interest to release every detail of the spec, because then people will start picking it apart and making big deals out of things that may not be noticeable at all in the real world.  They have given a rough idea of performance (teraflops and whatnot)... I'm sure next they want people to judge based on the games. So just sit back and have a little patience.
  • LOL There is no need get upset by calling me needy. I have not decided anything yet because we don't really have proper benchmark. Unlike some people in this forums saying the XB1x outperforms a gaming PC with a GTX 1070 and compares it to one with a 1080 or a 1080 ti. I want them to actually show us what's this console all about. I'm tired to read all these comments and opinions. I want facts.  They are building and hyping the power. So show it. If a company makes a new console and it's main argument is "they have the most games" you would expect them to show-off the games at least 2 months before release. I'm waiting. I've been waiting for a long time reading these XB/MS fans talking bs. There have been so many comments hyping this system. Now, I hope they show us more. This is for the consumers and for MS themselves.
  • Digital Foundry don't have any deal with MS. They were asked to come before E3 to see Xbox One X at Redmond before anyone else. To get concrete specs and to see how they achieved it. They simply had access to this first before E3. That was it. It was DF MS chose to release the full specs through. Which makes sense considering DF know what specs mean and exactly how things are achieved. You are right about the Blood and details on Laras face. However i don't think the new pictures do any favours to Ps4 Pro. The resolution of textures are incredibly low. Like someone has smeared Vaseline all over the Ps4 Pro model. It's terrible in comparison to the PC and One X. But that still doesn't detract from Volumaletric lighting for example completely missing from the Pro version. Or Hair tessalation. For example Laras hair on the Pro looks like a black blob. Where as on PC and One X you can see indiviudal strands floating around realistically.    I expect fully though when titles like Battlefront 2, F1 2017, Assassins Creed Origins, etc all have comparisons on DF later in the year your going to see vastly superior AA and resolution on One X. Bigger draw distance, ambient Occlusion, volumetric Lighting, higher quality textures, higher framerates etc against the PS4 Pro. It's going to get bigger the gulf between the 2. Pro is just to weak on the memory side. 8gb of ram running at 218 gb/sec is not enough. Especially when trying to increase performance and quality of artwork.   
  • wow. DF have done a tech analysis of the Forza 7 Gamescom Demo. And its impressive. I mean firstly this game is visually leagues ahead of GT Sport. Much larger draw distance. Dynamic lighting with ambient Occlusion. Far superior detail in the scenery ( GT sport still has 2d trees and low quality texture assess ) and the Dybamic weather in Forza 7 is another level. And they compared it to the PC version at Gamescon where they say the One X was the better version by a whisker. Here is the video.
  • It's a racing game, of course it's going to look the best, historically they always have.
  • Lol even I though Gran Turismo Aspec looked incredible during the PS2 days.