Forza Motorsport (2023) review: Redefining simulation racing games, but with some familiar cracks

The latest Forza Motorsport is almost all-new and it's incredible, but some flaws carry over from previous entries.

Screenshot of Forza Motorsport (2023).
(Image: © Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

Forza Motorsport (2023) isn't just a new beginning for the legendary simulation racing franchise, it also represents a previously unreached peak for the series. Turn 10 Studios have done an incredible job delivering one of the best core driving experiences of any game, but not everything has been properly rebuilt from the ground up.

Pros

  • +

    Rebuilt physics and systems absolutely shine in core driving experience

  • +

    Performance is nearly flawless, with crisp and detailed visuals and lighting

  • +

    Countless improvements to accessibility and game design should be lauded by everyone

  • +

    An incredibly solid foundation and a great amount of content bodes well for post-launch support

  • +

    New, focused gameplay loop works great for multiplayer

  • +

    New AI Drivatar opponents are so much more fun to race against

Cons

  • -

    New car progression system isn't perfect, and driver progression is basically nonexistent

  • -

    Car customization, animations, and some car models are practically untouched, feeling archaic in comparison

  • -

    Forza Race Regulation AI simply gets it wrong sometimes

  • -

    Various smaller visual glitches, bugs, and other issues

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At long last, the moment has arrived. With bated breath, we've waited for Turn 10 Studios and Xbox Game Studios to finally deliver the next era of Forza Motorsport into our ready hands. After over six years, it's finally here. Forza Motorsport (2023) is the spiritual reboot for one of the longest-running racing franchises in the world, and transitions it from a series to a live service platform that will evolve for years to come.

With so much time spent in the garage, though, expectations are understandably high. Turn 10 has made some monumental claims about the improvements it has made in Forza Motorsport, like an entirely rebuilt physics engine and new AI-powered Drivatar opponents and Forza Race Regulations. I've been playing the new Forza Motorsport every day for over a week to evaluate whether the finished product really delivers on those promises, and I'm very happy to say that it does — Mostly.

So much of Forza Motorsport (2023) is a much-needed departure from or upgrade over older Motorsport entries, so the parts of the game that clearly haven't enjoyed the same treatment stand out in comparison. Also, Turn 10 is going to need to work post-launch to tweak and improve stability, AI, and car progression, because those tiny flaws will add up over time.

Let's shift gears and go into more detail. Here's my full review of Forza Motorsport (2023).

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Xbox Game Studios. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.

Forza Motorsport review: Performance and stability

Stability leaves some to be desired, but I never had any performance issues when I was actually in a race. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Performance & stability highlights

  • Performance during gameplay is rock solid, and all three performance modes look and play great.
  • Stability is mostly good, especially during gameplay, but there are quite a few smaller issues and visual glitches.
  • I encountered one hard crash in over 40 hours of gameplay, and several instances where I was forced to restart due to a freeze or halted progression.
Forza Motorsport (2023)

Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Genre: Simulation racing
Install size: 133.3GB
Playtime: 40+ hours
Release date: Oct. 10, 2023 (public) / Oct. 5, 2023 (early access)
Price: $69.99-99.99
Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC
Xbox Game Pass: Console, PC, cloud
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X

Forza Motorsport (2023) is the first Forza game to be an Xbox Series X|S console exclusive, foregoing the aging Xbox One generation of consoles to prioritize even more on performance and visuals. The result is three performance modes (on Xbox Series X, the Series S has only two) and a ton of options across both Xbox and PC. It feels good to report that, at least during actual gameplay, performance is practically flawless in Forza Motorsport.

I spent most of the time in Performance RT, the middle-ground performance mode that locks the game to 60 FPS, but has a more aggressive variable resolution in exchange for some ray-traced effects and enhanced visuals. I never encountered a stutter or dropped frame during gameplay, even when I deliberately started in P24 during a rainstorm, and all 23 of my opponents were on screen at once. Performance mode is locked to 60 FPS with a variable resolution, but it'll hit 4K more often and doesn't look quite as shiny. Finally, the Visuals mode drops the framerate to 30 FPS, but you get crisp 4K and all the visuals ramped up to 11 (with ray tracing).

To me, Performance RT really is the perfect compromise, but all three modes offered impeccable performance in my testing. You do notice the lowered framerate in the Visuals mode, but it's at least useful for taking some pretty screenshots if you want to bother taking the time to complete a race and save the replay. There's not really anything else to report on this front. Unfortunately, stability isn't quite as clean cut.

I encountered a few visual glitches, mostly related to lighting and reflections. (Image credit: Windows Central)

I do have to offer a quick disclaimer: Turn 10 released Forza Motorsport's day one patch toward the end of my review period, which claimed to fix a ton of stability and visual issues. I can't verify how many of the issues I encountered were fixed, but I can say that at least a few bugs were still present after the patch.

During my time in Forza Motorsport (2023), I experienced one hard crash back to the Xbox Dashboard. I also had multiple instances where I was forced to restart. For example, once I completed my three qualifier races in the multiplayer, I was supposed to get a notification that I could access other Featured Multiplayer events and unlock the Ratings tab to keep track of my Skill and Safety Ratings. This... simply never happened. I had to restart to get that to appear. I also had various issues with other elements failing to update until after restarts. Finally, I encountered several freezes, all when attempting to start a Builders Cup Series for the first time. The intro cinematic would freeze, forcing me to restart the game (and then restart the Tour to get to watch the intro). I can confirm that last issue still occurred after the day one patch.

Even after the day one patch, I still encountered some of the same issues.

I also had instances of key segment trackers in practice sessions acting as if I was racing against a time even when I had never completed that segment before, and split times versus my best laps being inaccurate (I still saw this after the patch). Visual glitches mostly affected reflections and lighting, with metal surfaces like bumpers and wheels appearing foggy and abnormal, reflections across glass freaking out across the screen, and shadows appearing and disappearing at random. Cinematics were also affected by numerous visual issues, including pop-in and missing textures.

I didn't see any of these visual issues after the day one patch (Turn 10 deliberately listed several visual glitches as being fixed), but I also haven't had a ton of time with the game since the update. The game is at least definitely more stable after the day one patch than before, but I'm also continuing to see some of the same issues, so there's still work to be done here.

Forza Motorsport review: Visuals and world

Even with direct sunlight, Forza Motorsport can still look great. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Visuals & world highlights

  • Aside from the visual glitches noted above, Forza Motorsport looks amazing.
  • Textures are detailed, reflections are great, environments are dense, lighting is dynamic and gorgeous.
  • A neutral color palette and more natural lighting does make the game appear washed out at times, though, so visuals do come down to personal taste.

In my Forza Motorsport preview, I professed concern that the visuals weren't as mind blowing as I expected them to be for a brand-new Forza game, a sentiment reflected across the Forza community. Well, now I know why. All the introductory races in my preview occurred during midday, with stark sunlight harshly baring down on the cars and environments, casting a distant heat fog across the horizon. It made the game washed out, but this is an intentional design decision.

You see, Forza Motorsport (2023) actually is gorgeous. Those screenshots and reveals? Those were captured in-game. Most of them were captured on Xbox Series X, too. They're real. Textures are wonderfully crisp, environments and tracks are absolutely packed with detail and props, the dynamic lighting can do wonders during the right weather and time of day... This is a very, very good-looking game, but it's deliberate in how it looks.

Turn 10 opted for a more neutral color palette and natural lighting, losing the vibrancy and saturation of Forza Horizon. That makes the game as a whole appear closer to real life, but it also means that, during certain times of day and during certain weather events, the lighting just isn't attractive. An overbearing Noon sun doesn't cast everything in the best light, so to speak, and Forza Motorsport reflects that.

Forza Motorsport is actually gorgeous, but natural lighting means it doesn't always look it.

During every other time, though? In the early morning, when the sun just crests the horizon and begins to burn away the lingering clouds of fog? Just after a storm, when light breaks through the overcast clouds in a flood of gold and orange, reflecting off the water blanketing the roads? At twilight, when the sun descends into darkness and the streetlights come on, casting the interior of your car in brief flashes of brightness? During an intense rainstorm, when rain and wind pummel everything relentlessly, and the tires of each car throw up walls of water behind them? Forza Motorsport thrives, proudly displaying just how beautiful Forza can be.

Hand-built tracks, dynamic weather events, and rolling time-of-day all play a hand in this. Ray tracing is also wonderfully implemented, even during gameplay. Hakone Circuit at sunset? My goodness is it pretty. Of course, you still get those instances where the game does look washed out because of the lighting, and those moments might turn people off. Forza Motorsport adapts this natural tone deliberately, but whether you love it will be up to you. Forza Horizon 5 definitely captures your attention more at first glance.

Forza Motorsport review: Driving and handling

Sorry, there's no new steering wheel animation here. At least the driving is awesome. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Driving & handling highlights

  • More granular, detailed, and responsive physics translates to the best driving experience in any Forza game.
  • Cars all feel excellent, and respond to track, weather, and tire conditions with nuance and uniqueness.
  • Driving assists are now part of the accessibility suite, not difficulty, making it easier for all players to find the perfect level of challenge for them.

What's a racing game without racing? Forza Motorsport has always focused more on a realistic, grounded driving experience versus the arcade-like Forza Horizon series, but that focus has slipped with the last few past entries. Turn 10 went back to the drawing board with Forza Motorsport (2023), with a substantial chunk of the improvements catering entirely to the driving and handling experience. And it is sublime.

It's hard to put into words exactly what has improved here, because huge updates to the physics engine actually translate to subtle changes to the driving experience. All those subtle changes add up across every car, track surface, racing condition, and beyond, though. The result is the most responsive and detailed driving experience in any Forza game. Ever.

Driving feels damn good in Forza Motorsport, in every car and on every track.

Each car has a unique identity you have to master, and each track has an exclusive personality that presents new challenges to any driver that sets tires to its asphalt. There are massive increases in fidelity across the entire physics system, including a 48-times increase in tire physics simulation spread across 8 points of contact refreshing at 360Hz, rebuilt suspension systems rendered and simulated in their entirety to factor for various factors like anti-roll, anti-dive, and force propagation, far more advanced and granular damage models, major improvements to various tire compounds, and enhancements to both tire wear and fuel consumption for endurance races.

It's a lot of technical speak to basically say: driving feels damn good in Forza Motorsport. Having to adapt on the fly to each car, its upgrades, the tracks, and conditions like the weather, tire wear, fuel level, and even when other cars might kick dirt onto the track (seriously), all bring a level of excitement to every race, every lap, every corner. After 40 hours, it never stopped being fun to burn rubber on the track in Forza Motorsport (2023).

Each car feels different, but so does every track, every surface, every weather event. (Image credit: Windows Central)

I also appreciate that, unlike previous Forza games, driving assists are no longer tied to your difficulty level. Players used to be encouraged to disable driving assists to earn more credits, but this wasn't an enjoyable experience for casual players or those with disabilities and other challenges, especially with the game constantly bugging you to change your settings. In the new Forza Motorsport, driving assists are simply part of the accessibility suite — it's just another way for players to tailor the game to their own needs without affecting the core gameplay. Driving assists have also been rebalanced and exploits have been removed, making racing fairer for all players regardless of their assist levels.

Now, difficulty is changed through Drivatar levels, racing rules, and the "Challenge the Grid" system. I'll go more in-depth about this in the Builders Cup section, though, because it doesn't apply to multiplayer — in those races, everyone plays with the same rules, so the only thing that matters is individual skill and the cars. To come out on top, you'll need to be extremely confident in your vehicle and intimately familiar with the track. Speaking of that...

Forza Motorsport review: Cars and tracks

From epic hypercars to affordable classics, Forza Motorsport has it all. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Cars & tracks highlights

  • Forza Motorsport's car list is large and decently varied, and will continue to grow after launch.
  • While there aren't a ton of tracks (more will come after launch), each one is gorgeous, supports dynamic time-of-day and weather, and often features multiple layouts.
  • Most cars look great, but there are quite a few older cars that are clearly aging scans, standing out in the new Forza Motorsport.

The Forza Motorsport (2023) car list features over 500 vehicles at launch, making it the largest launch roster for any Forza Motorsport game and pretty much matching what Forza Horizon 5 boasted at its release. That car list is diverse, too, featuring a varied array between classics and moderns, everyday vehicles and supercar exotics, and street legal sports cars and homologated race cars. Turn 10 will regularly add new vehicles to this list after launch, sometimes directly to the Showroom, through Featured Tours in the multiplayer or Builder's Cup, or as part of DLC like the 30-car Car Pass.

I've already seen complaints regarding this car list, but I don't think any racing game in the history of forever satisfied everyone. Forza Horizon 5 currently rests at over 700 cars, and I still see complaints of "too many hypercars," "not enough regular cars," "too many electric cars," "not enough new cars," "not enough classic cars," "not enough of this exact specific car model that is a dealbreaker for not being here." Forza Motorsport is getting hit with those same complaints already. While I did expect to see a few more proper race cars in different categories, I do think this is a very solid car list that will make the vast majority of racers very happy.

This is a very respectable car list at launch, but not every car looks quite as good as the rest.

After all, it's not about there being 500 cars — it's about having options when you pick the 10 or so cars that truly matter to you. Knowing that more cars will come practically every week is also great. However, there is one issue... Car models. For the most part, cars in Forza Motorsport look great. They're detailed, look lovely with the new lighting engine, and feel real and grounded. There are several vehicles, however (mostly older cars), that are clearly utilizing aging scans from past Forza games. Those cars... Don't look nearly as great in the most detailed, graphically advanced Forza Motorsport game of all time.

They don't look awful, don't get me wrong. Turn 10 clearly put in work to ensure every car looks as good as possible with the new engine and visuals, and every car actively benefits from the rebuilt physics and handling. Forza Motorsport (2023) looks so good, though, that those older cars simply stand out like a sore thumb. It's not a dealbreaker, but it'll undoubtedly frustrate players, especially when one of their favorite cars simply doesn't look as good as others in the game.

It's worth noting that Turn 10 is working to improve matters here. An update that released while I was playing the game claimed to improve car models, and sure enough I did notice that the odd reflections on the ovoid chrome bumper of my beloved 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T were fixed following the update.

Oh yeah... Sorry, the steering wheel animation hasn't changed. I don't know why Forza hasn't updated this yet.

Even simple circuits with short-cut grass look gorgeous at sunset. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Fortunately, matters are much more positive when it comes to the tracks. The Forza Motorsport (2023) track list features around 20 tracks at launch. That may not seem like a lot, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of variety here. 40 hours later, and I still felt like I was encountering fresh track layouts and conditions. That's because every track in Forza Motorsport was completely rebuilt from the ground up, hand designed to take full advantage of the new physics systems, with brand-new levels of environment density, details and texture quality, and more.

Every track fully supports dynamic time-of-day and diverse weather conditions, which by itself can bring a lot of variety to your races. Most tracks also boast multiple layouts and variants, too, so you can revisit the same location but enjoy a completely different driving experience. Turn 10 is also committed to regularly injecting new tracks into the game, with Yas Marina returning in Nov. 2023, another new track coming in Dec. 2023, and the legendary Nordschleife arriving next Spring.

Forza Motorsport shines through its new tracks, and the upgraded audio experience is excellent.

There's not a terrible or unattractive track in the bunch. Every single circuit looks awesome and feels great to drive on, highlighting the effort Turn 10 put in to get this right. I do have to say, though, that Hakone Circuit and Maple Valley absolutely stand out to me as the most gorgeous tracks in the entire game, with incredible use of colors and environmental detail. They're also a ton of fun to race, too, so it makes complete sense to me that these two tracks would feature in the Forza Motorsport introduction.

Another bright side? Audio design. Forza Motorsport clearly got the same elevated treatment as FH5, because this game sounds excellent on every front. It's crisp and clear, with every vehicle having a unique, weighty sound that reverberates and echoes around the tracks. Wonderful stuff.

Forza Motorsport review: Progression and customization

A few minutes in the livery editor let me doll up my Challenger, but I was disappointed to find the exact same experience as past Forza games. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Progression & customization highlights

  • The new car progression makes mastering each car truly meaningful, but the time to max rank each car, the rate at which upgrade categories are unlocked, and the fact that every car has to be levelled individually need to be updated.
  • Car customization, including liveries and body modifications, feel practically untouched from past Forza titles.
  • Driver level doesn't have any clear gameplay benefits, there's no "career" page to track progression or statistics, and driver customization or career progression is severely limited.

Previous sections have mostly been positive, but that trend unfortunately ends here. With Forza Motorsport (2023), it truly felt like Turn 10 Studios had all the pieces to absolutely nail driver and car progression, but the game loses traction just short of the finish line. There are good ideas here, but strange game design choices, a lack of progress in some areas, and a lack of features in others hamper the progression experience in Forza Motorsport, and that's unfortunate.

Let's start with car progression, where the biggest changes occur. I wrote in my Forza Motorsport (2023) preview that I genuinely enjoyed the updates made here, but the response wasn't the same across the community. Basically, every car has its own level, and experience to gain levels is earned through practicing, clean racing, and steadily beating your own times around each track section and corner. Each level, you unlock more upgrade parts and earn Car Points that can be spent on those upgrades.

The new car progression system could be genuinely awesome, but it desperately needs some tweaks.

This system actively encourages players to be more mindful of how they upgrade their vehicles, incentivizes practice and driving mastery, and makes the time spent with each car more meaningful. All of that is great. I love the Car Levels, I love the Car Points and how Credits are no longer used for upgrades, I love that mindlessly shoving every upgrade to the max level immediately is no longer possible. What I don't love... is the rate at which upgrades are unlocked. Instead of letting players choose the upgrades they want and only limiting them by their available Car Points, entire upgrade categories are locked until your car reaches a certain level.

It would make more sense if upgrade tiers were unlocked over time (you have access to all Street-level upgrades immediately, but you have to wait to unlock Sport and Race-level upgrades), but no — you don't even get Weight Reduction until Lv. 20 out of 50. Considering that it actually takes a decent amount of time to max rank a car (I earned on average 4-5 levels a race, depending on the complexity of the track, my driving performance, and how much I practiced), it can take ages before you're able to upgrade a car the way you want to. Major tweaks need to be made here. I'd be perfectly fine with the time it takes to reach Lv. 50 as long as upgrades were unlocked faster and in a more logical manner.

Spending time to master a car and level it up could be perfect for Forza Motorsport, but the system needs work. (Image credit: Windows Central)

What is even more unforgivable to me, though, is that every car needs to be levelled individually. No, I don't mean different car models — I mean every individual car. The 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T is one of my favorite cars of all time. In Forza Horizon 5, I have three different versions, each with a unique livery and tune; one is for asphalt racing, another for rally, and another for drag. In Forza Motorsport, I'd have to level up, unlock upgrades, and earn Car Points for each one separately. This serves no purpose other than making it more tedious and forcing you to manually switch between liveries and tunes each time you want to mix things up with your favorite car. It's one of my biggest pet peeves with this game.

If I spend the time to master my favorite cars and get them up to Lv. 50, that should apply to every car of that make and model I buy. Period. Otherwise, why would I ever want to buy multiples of any car?

Having to individually level up every copy of any car you buy is ludicrous and pointless.

Matters aren't helped by the fact that car customization remains effectively unchanged here versus older Forza games. You get the same livery editor we've had for years, complete with its awkward camera controls and misaligned grids (I'm not even confident that the improvements FH5 made to decal resolution are here). Sure, you can do some truly impressive things with this livery editor, as the Forza community has repeatedly proven, but isn't it time for an upgrade? Body modifications are also business as usual. The infamous Forza aero upgrades make their return and remain unchanged, and only a handful of cars feature proper body kits and custom modifications.

Car customization is a huge part of any racing game, as players love to personalize their vehicles and show them off. The lack of any significant upgrades here is a major disappointment, and it's made all the worse by Photo Mode limitations. You can only access the Photo Mode through the Car Bay on the main menu or through Race Replays that you have to manually save after each race — There's simply no way to access the Photo Mode during Builders Cup or Free Play races, for some reason. On top of that, it's also the old Photo Mode, not the far more powerful and feature-packed one you can now find in Forza Horizon 5.

Racing at some times of day can be difficult thanks to the glare from the sun. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Finally, there's the career progression... Or lack thereof. You do earn Driver XP after each event to go toward your Driver Level, but it's unclear what tangible benefit this actually has beyond being a "how long you've played the game" number. There doesn't appear to be any rewards for each level gained, although you do seem to get some Credits for major level milestones (this mostly applies to Car Level, though). In fact, this is another area where FH5 feels miles ahead of Forza Motorsport, a curious trend when this is supposed to be the next generation of Forza racing.

Where Forza Horizon 5 has detailed statistics pages recording all the telemetry data the game's physics system tracks, Forza Motorsport has absolutely nothing. There's no page to track your statistics, not even to see how many multiplayer races you've won or what your most-used car is. Forza Horizon 5 has Accolades, which provide optional missions and objectives for players to pursue in exchange for unique rewards like cars, Credits, customization items, and more. Forza Motorsport has nothing beyond the general desire to keep racing and complete limited-time events.

Even Driver customization is severely limited. You can tweak your body type and your suit... That's it. Forza Horizon 5 has full clothing customization, emotes for when you're on the victory pedestal, even prosthetics to include disabled gamers. All of this ties into the more advanced Photo Mode on the Horizon side of things. There are also plenty of Badges to help set you Gamertag apart on the racetrack and in Leaderboards, often unlocked through unique missions. Forza Motorsport only has a badge for Turn 10 devs or VIP members, and there's no way to customize it or disable it in any way. There's just nothing here, in general.

Forza Motorsport review: Builders Cup campaign

Forza Motorsport is all about building your dream cars, and the Builders Cup lets you do exactly that. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Builders Cup campaign highlights

  • The Builders Cup features a solid number of curated, themed racing series and tours highlighting different cars, eras, and trends.
  • It's a great way to play, but you still need to be online to progress (ostensibly to help prevent cheating that can spread to the multiplayer).
  • The Builders Cup will expand after launch with new Featured Tours and themed events.

Alright, we can return to the golden land of positivity now that we're discussing the aptly titled core of Forza Motorsport's single-player content: the Builders Cup. This isn't a narrative campaign, but it's the closest we'll get in a Motorsport title. You have four different themed Tours, each with four distinct Series highlighting specific cars, trends, or eras, and a final Showcase Event at the end of each Tour. There's also the Open Tour with a Series for every performance class, and Featured Tours that will be added to the game after launch.

I'm a big fan of this component of Forza Motorsport. Each Series helps you fall in love with a specific car as you steadily upgrade it through 4-6 races, and each Tour provides a brief cinematic with lovely narration providing insight into the history of automobiles, racing, and car building. It's good stuff; I only wish there were more of it, but Turn 10 will take care of that, too. Featured Tours will be released every few weeks with more single-player content. I hope Turn 10 also adds new, permanent Tours, too, just so returning players have more content to explore.

Unfortunately, you do have to be online to progress in the Builders Cup, a move that is aimed at preventing players from using cheats to rapidly progress and gain an advantage in multiplayer races. An offline mode is sorely needed, though, as players should always have the option to enjoy single-player content when they don't have internet.

The Builders Cup is a lot of fun, thanks in part to newly improved AI opponents.

A large part of what makes the Builders Cup so successful, besides the new gameplay loop of practice, race, upgrade, is the new AI-powered Drivatars. These NPC opponents are now much more believable and nuanced than in previous Forza entries, and no longer rely on any cheats or hacks to stay competitive. You have eight levels of Drivatar skill, with the bottom level being a new, lower entry point into the franchise and the highest level being even faster than the Unbeatable Drivatars of the past. Again, though, they're faster without rubberbanding or cheats, so if you lose to these Drivatars it's simply because they were faster, not because the game had to cut corners.

These Drivatars can still behave strangely at points, but for the most part behave a lot like people. That includes making mistakes like missing turns, bustling into each other, or even going off track. Drivatars can earn penalties and lose positions because of honest mistakes, but those mistakes become less and less common the higher the difficulty is. These new Drivatars make the Builders Cup and Free Play feel like legitimate ways to enjoy Forza Motorsport, and that's awesome. Although, there is still a tendency for the first two or three Drivatars to pull so far ahead in the first lap that it's near impossible to catch them, so that can still be tweaked.

Players now have more control over difficulty in single-player races. (Image credit: Windows Central)

When it comes to difficulty, players now have three ways to control the challenge in single-player races. No, the driving assists or settings you use are no longer a part of the game's difficulty. Now, you can choose between eight levels of Drivatar skill, with 1 being a new lower entry point into the franchise and 8 being the fastest Forza's Drivatars have ever been.

You can also choose your rules set, this includes whether damage is cosmetic or not, whether fuel consumption and tire wear are simulated, and how strict the Forza Race Regulation AI is about delivering penalties to drivers. Finally, there's the "Challenge the Grid" system, which lets you choose your starting position on the grid. The game will predict your finishing position based on the speed and efficiency of your practice time, and reward you credit bonuses depending on how far back on the grid you start. All of this gives you more control over the difficulty, and it all works great.

Forza Motorsport review: Multiplayer and other modes

Forza Race Regulations AI needs tweaking, but for the most part multiplayer is a blast. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Multiplayer & other modes highlights

  • New gameplay loop is a perfect fit for multiplayer racing, with a lot of long-term potential.
  • The new Forza Race Regulations AI is improved over previous Forza games, but is still far from perfect.
  • You also have the returning Rivals mode, as well as the extremely customizable Free Play mode (with Time Attack races).

Multiplayer racing is the bread and butter of Forza Motorsport, and the newest entry's multiplayer chops are what's going to make or break its long-term success. Fortunately, I think Turn 10 has done a great job with Forza Motorsport (2023)'s multiplayer offering, with the new and improved gameplay loop lending itself well to it.

To begin multiplayer racing, you'll first need to complete three Qualifier races to establish your Safety and Skill Ratings. Your Safety rating is basically your etiquette on track. Cut corners, bump other cars, and otherwise attempt to sabotage your opponents, and your Safety rating will fall. You race against players with the same Safety rating as you, so ideally the most toxic players will all be able to be toxic with each other, at the bottom of the board. Your Skill rating notates your speed and efficiency on the track, and the game will attempt to pit you against opponents with similar Skill ratings in the same Safety class.

Forza Motorsport's new core gameplay loop translates perfectly to multiplayer.

Once you complete your Qualifier races and earn your beginning Ratings (which update after every race you participate in, complete or leave), you have free reign. Permanent series will always be available, like Forza GT and Touring, to racers, but there will also be a variety of Spec Tours (everyone has a similarly specced car) and Open Tours (everyone can bring their own custom-built car). Turn 10 will release new themed events and Tours all the time, giving players renewed variety in Featured Multiplayer. There will also be community-wide events, including weekend-long endurance races and more.

I didn't quite get to participate in anything like that, but I did go up against fellow reviewers and Turn 10 developers in several Featured Multiplayer events, and I mostly had a blast. Every race has an entry period, during which players can practice on the track with their car of choice. When you're ready, you can run up to three qualify laps, which dictate your position on the starting grid. Then there's the actual race, which all feature fuel consumption and tire wear, so longer races will require actual pit strategy.

When I did Free Play, I usually raced at night with some kind of rain. I love it. (Image credit: Windows Central)

I really enjoy this gameplay loop, and the actual races were usually a ton of fun, win or lose. The racers I went up against were respectful, with the majority of bumps and pushes being obviously accidental. However, in both multiplayer and single-player races, I had some issues with the Forza Race Regulations AI, which analyzes player activity and doles out penalties based on unruly behavior. 99% of the time, this system seemed to work very well, not penalizing players for genuine accidents and tagging purposeful bullying when necessary.

The Forza Race Regulation AI gets it right most of the time, but when it doesn't it's endlessly frustrating.

However, that 1% where the AI gets it wrong is incredibly frustrating. I had one instance where an opponent rear-ended me at speed, forcefully pushed me into two other cars in front of me, and knocked me off the track. The result? They gained multiple positions and no penalty, while I was tagged with a 2.5 second penalty. In another instance, I had an opponent aggressively push me off the road and then openly cut two corners in front of me, shaving precious seconds off their lap time. The AI correctly decided that I wasn't at fault, but it also didn't deliver any penalties to the offending driver.

Once, I deliberately tested the system against AI opponents by ramming the car ahead of me off the track. I got away with it, because I made sure I was breaking before and during the collision. They lost three positions, I gained one, and no penalties occurred.

This was against both real players and AI opponents. Most of the time, the Forza Race Regulation AI was fair and rather good at telling the difference between accidental bumps or loss of control and rule breaking, but there's still a lot of room for improvement. To be clear, though, it's absolutely a major upgrade over past entries.

The Dodge Demon is one reward car you can earn from the Builders Cup. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Fortunately, the Rivals mode suffers from no such issues, and is the same fun mode we know and love from previous Forza games. There will be Featured Rivals events released periodically, though, and even exclusive Rivals events just for VIP members, which I thought was interesting. If you love Rivals, you'll be happy. Private Multiplayer is also here to play with your friends without strangers intervening.

Finally, Free Play gives you complete control over single-player races. You can either quickly jump into a race with a handful of options, or dive deep into the track, car, and race rules and settings to custom create highly specific races. I encountered an issue with opponent cars not appropriately upgrading to the required performance class, but otherwise Free Play was an excellent way to effortlessly jump into the exact races I wanted.

Forza Motorsport review: Accessibility

Forza Motorsport invites anyone to sit in the driver's seat. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Accessibility highlights

  • A clean interface, approachable game design, and dozens upon dozens of accessibility settings help Forza Motorsport set a new benchmark in the industry.
  • It's a marvelous accomplishment that should be lauded, and I will, but the sheer number of options can be overwhelming and time consuming.
  • I'd like to see a handful of presets for the most common disabilities to provide a basis for customization, and better in-game tutorials to help create the perfect setup.

I won't spend too much time talking about accessibility. After all, I already wrote quite a few words about why Forza Motorsport may be one of the most popular simulation racing games of all time simply due to its accessibility. Honestly, I can't praise Turn 10 and Xbox enough for what they've accomplished here. Forza Motorsport (2023) is among the most accessible games I have ever played, and I love seeing that. Hopefully, it'll inspire, encourage, and educate more developers to invest more in video games accessibility from day one.

This is a monumental achievement for accessibility in video games, and I hope it inspires more games to follow suit.

There are so many options in Forza Motorsport to tailor practically every element of the gameplay and interface to your specific needs, with countless options for those with visual, audio, or physical limitations or challenges. It's amazingly in-depth, to the point where it's almost overwhelming. Players who can make use of these options will likely need to spend a lot of time trying settings through trial and error. I'd like to see Turn 10 add a handful of dedicated presets for common disabilities, so that players have a baseline upon which to tweak to their own specific needs. While each setting does come with great descriptions, more general tutorials for how to make the most of these options would also be great.

Overall, though, Forza Motorsport is a monumental achievement for accessibility in video games, and it's not just about the settings. Modern, approachable game design not only opens the door wider for casual players and newcomers to the simulation racing genre, it also aids in accessibility. Tweaked driving assists that don't affect game difficulty, more granular difficulty options, a clean and easy-to-understand interface, and a straightforward gameplay loop all make it so, so easy to jump into Forza Motorsport and just play, no matter who you are.

Forza Motorsport review: Final thoughts

Forza Motorsport is an excellent evolution for the franchise, but I hope to see it improve after launch. (Image credit: Windows Central)

It has been a day over six years since Forza Motorsport 7 released, and over two years since that game officially went end-of-life. Longtime fans of the franchise have been impatiently waiting for the next simulation racing game from the Forza team, especially when competing franchises never stopped moving. Now that it's finally here, was it worth the wait? After well over forty hours spent in Forza Motorsport (2023), I firmly believe the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

This is a fantastic, fun, future-proofed simulation racing game with gorgeous visuals, immaculate performance, a focused vision for the future, and a ton of content to keep players busy from day one. It's not just the new best Xbox racing game, it's just one of the best Xbox games of the year. Turn 10 has also designed this to be the most flexible and modular Forza Motorsport game of all time, making it easy to improve the game over time. It's the most accessible and approachable, too, making it easy for anyone to start racing. It does need improvements, though. Improvements to the core gameplay and design are immense, but many parts remain untouched, like car customization, animations, and some car models.

Car progression desperately needs some tweaks to avoid angering half the Forza community, the Forza Race Regulation AI needs to learn more about driver behavior, and there's still some polish to be done. Because of this, Forza Motorsport isn't perfect. The foundation is there, though, and it's a damn good foundation. This is the best Forza Motorsport has ever been, and it's not particularly close. The core experience of racing, mastering every car and track, and reaching a higher level of skill is incredible, and that is what's going to keep racers firmly grounded on the racetrack.