Microsoft's hit racing franchise is slated for its return in 2020, accompanying Xbox Series X with a roster of next-generation advancements. Initial details on the ambitious project are surfacing, alluding to leaps in simulation depth, and proving a technological showpiece for the new console. Prototyped from the ground up with fan feedback, hopes are high for the next installment, seemingly titled Forza Motorsport 8.
The state of Forza Motorsport 8
The Forza franchise has adopted an annual release cycle over the years, alternating between the mainline Forza Motorsport entries developed by Turn 10 Studios, and the casual street racing of Forza Horizon from Playground Games. However, tailing the release of Forza Horizon 4, its upcoming project shakes up the schedule, departing from the two-year turnaround of each series. Work remains underway on the title assumed to be Forza Motorsport 8.
The absence of Forza Motorsport's bi-annual return follows long-term support for its predecessor, with regular updates delivered through and beyond the launch of Forza Horizon 4. The two series received parallel support in 2019, with Microsoft creative director, Dan Greenawalt, citing the approach among reasons for schedule amendments. "So, as of right now, Motorsport itself is actually in concept; it's just something we're currently building. And this is after supporting Forza Motorsport 7 for longer than we ever have before," Greenawalt told IGN.
"Now at this point, working on concept for what we're doing next, the team is just in that headspace. How are we building rapid, quick prototypes? How are we bringing players in? Getting feedback on our ideas and building this with the community. It's gonna be a long game but it means we're not looking at the date so much as much as we're looking at the delight – how much we can excite our players?"
With Forza Motorsport 8 still in concept stages for mid-2019, it's no surprise that Microsoft skipped a 2019 title. However, the Forza Motorsport hiatus also smartly ties with the upcoming Xbox Series X, likely to kickstart Microsoft's next-generation console as a visual showpiece in 2019 according to former openings.
Forza Motorsport 5 launched with Xbox One, and Forza Motorsport 7 demonstrated the power of Xbox One X, with racing games primed for highlighting capabilities for photorealistic titles. The boasted four times CPU gains over Xbox One X will allow for added complexity, and reflective cars would be an ideal pairing with hardware-accelerated raytracing. And with the Xbox Series X also targeting up to 8K and 4K 120 frames-per-second (FPS) gameplay, Forza would be among the few launch titles that would even come close to these ideals.
Forza Motorsport 8 early gameplay details
Without a formal name for the project, or any form of gameplay, it's currently unclear what advancements Forza Motorsport 8 will bring over earlier games. Hundreds of iconic vehicles, a sizeable handful of locales, and other signatures of the series are likely. We also expect advancements in the core gameplay, expanding on the fundamentals of its simulation sandbox and how players handle cars in moment-to-moment racing.
Turn 10 Studios indicates progress is underway, with Creative Director Chris Esaki detailing studio-wide playtesting underway in December for the "new experience" under the Motorsport team. Esaki continued, elaborating on various fundamental features, including new tire and suspension models at play.
Motorsport 8 is expected to debut improved systems for tires, factoring tire pressure, and how interacts with the rubber. New dynamic track temperatures and rubbering-in features will support these additions, skewing traction throughout the race. Atmospheric pressure also impacts locations, reflected with air density, aerodynamics, power, and tires.
Esaki downplayed these additions, stating they "don't really matter in the larger scheme of things," though indicate some major change-ups headed to Motorsport 8. These contributed to a "vastly different" experience claims Esaki, providing insight into the mindset among the team, doubling down on deeper dynamic systems to change up each race.
Ultimately, this pushes Motorsport 8 into a more experimental space, fitting for the new generation. "[W]e're taking this fan-first, player-first approach where we're bringing players in, in different capacities to have them help us ideate on what we build next, and prototype new ideas and new thoughts," said Greenawalt speaking with IGN. Esaki has confirmed more news planned for 2020, ahead of a speculated launch before the year concludes.
Forza Motorsport 8 release date
With Forza Motorsport 8 development still underway, Turn 10 Studios is yet to discuss availability. Assuming a release alongside Xbox Series X, a holiday 2020 release date is likely, coinciding with the next-generation box. Microsoft's flagship racers traditionally release in September through early October; however, it may skew to align with the new system.
While Microsoft remains tight on Forza Motorsport 8, early teasers allude to a next-generation showpiece in the works, elevating the hit series with added depth and realism in gameplay. Paired with Xbox Series X, a much-welcomed refresh may be in the pipeline, leveraging the best of hardware advancements. In the meantime, Forza Motorsport 7 is your best alternatively, recently wrapping updates in mid-2019.
Still great racing fun for all
Welcoming and fun for newcomers, addictive and challenging for more serious racers. Forza Motorsport 7 remains a must place for virtual track fans in 2019.
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