/ gaming

Forza Motorsport 7 - From improvements to transactions: Micro-everything!

There are certain games that you will never forget. Growing up, my buddy and I would buy and rent all kinds of nonsense to destroy one another in. From Pokémon to Smash Bros, nowadays a title bearing the same name can beckon you back without any pitch needed whatsoever. One such game that is near to our hearts is Forza Motorsport. Making 1000 horsepower Camaros, painting them like Highway Patrol cars, and sliding all over the place was an absolute blast. So when my buddy and I saw the new Forza coming out, we thought it might be time to reconnect with those old memories, but after having ‘played’ for a little while, I can't help feel taken advantage of.

Critical opinion, particularly on the internet, especially when it’s about something as trivial as video games, is not often very well received. If the overall opinion of a product is not shared, the viewer most will almost immediately become disconnected and deafen themselves from the positon of others. I'm sure people that were flown out to see the game and largely rely on special early access treatment to keep their YouTube channels lucrative did their best to give an unbiased review of the game. In the event that they didn't however, I’m going to do my best to structure my thoughts here so that they don’t fall into that trap. And as a blatantly contradictory disclaimer: Forza Motorsport 7 is a total disappointment. Let’s begin!

The Bugs

Full disclosure, the entirety of my experience is from a PC point of view; some of the issues I experienced may be wholly absent on an Xbox. However, this game was touted by Turn 10 to have been built from the ground up to work flawlessly on Windows 10. Suffice to say that could not be further from the truth. This game has more bugs than this cat:

fliesThis is the least offensive photograph Google returned for ‘covered in flies’.

Some people still can’t actually download this game due to a Microsoft Store issue. I, however was able to blaze passed those peasants only to have my karma instantly rebalanced. After my ISP likely broke a few lamps and my 99 GB download completed, I installed the title and settled into my chair to experience the majesty that should’ve been Forza Motorsport 7. The game firmly plants a circle hook into your mouth and drags you through the longest, unskippable intro video I have ever had to sit through. This seemingly five-minute masturbatory featurette smugly explained how awesome this game was about to be and cautioned that I would need a bevy of skill and versatility to master it. Like lingerie in 25 year marriage, I kinda don’t see the point of these things as I already bought the game, but whatever. The foreplay was over with and things were getting hot and heavy.

But not that kind of hot and heavy. The first issue Forza 7 will burden you with is no or poorly optimized multicore support. At the main menu, core 0 of my i7 was under 100% load whilst the remaining seven cores were chilling at a 20th century breakthrough of 0%. So this just has to be an accident or wannabe PC master races with shitty old PCs, right? According to Turn 10, it’s not.

Some users may notice that the game utilizes nearly 100% of one of their processor cores. This is expected behavior; we intentionally run in this manner so we can react as fast as possible in order to minimize input latency.

singlecoreReacting as fast as possible.

To compound matters, a RAM leak of about 2% a minute ate up my 16GB before I could even load a race. Spoiler alerts, the crash to desktop outro is a lot less polished than the forced intro.

It took me probably four hours to play 30 minutes of Forza 7 due to the incredible load times and persistent crashes. I documented my problem and provided it to Turn 10 as well as Microsoft on their forums, joining a symphony of equally distraught PC users. My computer isn’t necessarily the nastiest rig out there, but it is no slouch. However, I was outclassed by some demi-gods with towers hosting upwards of four grand worth of bleeding edge hardware who were equally hopeless in keeping this game running. As of right now, Turn 10 doesn’t have an answer for the numerous bugs but promise they are working on a solution. It's just kind of a joke though when you consider that this Forza 6 and Horizon 3 both suffered catostrophic memory leaks that took 8 months to get patched out. You'd think that would've come up in a meeting. As for my system, the game is unacceptable. I cannot get through more than two consecutive three lap races without abruptly heading back to my desktop.

To the closed minded, this may seem like a simple case of poor optimization, which is polite way of calling Turn 10’s coders a steaming pile of shit. However, I think they might be software engineering geniuses when you consider the claim that the Xbox One X version of the game is running flawlessly with 60fps at 4k. All the signs point to this being done intentionally to wean would be PC gamers off their old, expensive systems and coax them into considering a new, inexpensive console. How can you argue with the sales pitch when a $499 plug and play system is out pacing some builds strong enough to run a small country? The answer: It’s fucking not.

The official meat of the Xbox One X is as follows:

CPU RAM GPU HDD OS
8 Core 2.3Ghz (2 Quad AMD Jaguars) 12GB RAM (shared) AMD Radeon 1172Mhz 1TB HDD Proprietary

Here are a couple of people's rigs from the tech support forum that can’t get the game to run even in the menus:

CPU RAM GPU HDD OS
i5-6600k @ 4.5 GHz 16GB RAM Nvidia GTX 1080 2TB SSD Windows 10 64 bit
i5-4670 @ 3.4GHz 16GB RAM Nvidia GTX 970 1TB evo SSD Windows 10 64 bit
i5-7400 @ 3.5GHz 8GB RAM Nvidia GTX 1060 1TB 7200rpm HDD Windows 10 64 bit
i5-4690K @ 4.5ghz 16GB RAM Nvidia GTX 1080ti 1TB 7200rpm HDD Windows 10 64 bit
i7-6700k @ 3.4 GHz 32GB (2x16) RAM Nvidia GTX 1080 STRIX 250GB SSD, 2TB HDD Windows 10 64 bit
i7-6700K @ 4.0 GHz 16GB RAM Nvidia GTX 1080 2TB 7200rpm HDD Windows 10 64 bit

GLORYGlorious.

For those that may not be familiar, all of these PC setups are far and away more powerful than the Xbox One X console. Some of these guys, myself included, even had fresh, formatted drives. It should be noted, this isn’t a rant about consoles vs. computers either. I have no reservations about getting an Xbox One X, just be upfront with me and tell me the game is going to be shit on anything else so I don't waste my time and money. Everyone trying to play this game is united under an affinity for racing simulators and being fans of Forza Motorsport. Advertising that the game would be built from the ground up to perform flawlessly on personal computers and then completely failing to deliver even a bootable copy of the game is inexcusable. The fact that Turn 10 hasn't been able to make a stable PC release three times in a row indicates more than incompetence. Instead, what appears to have happened here is corporate strategizing cashing in on the pangs of nostalgia.

Forza has long since been a launch title game that attracts the attention of the market. This year is its strangest year as a launch title because it’s ushering in a sorta new iteration of a sorta the same family of console, the One X. It doesn’t sound like Forza 7 would be a big deal but it's the ONLY game right now claiming a stable 60fps @ 4k experience on ANY console on the market. If master race PCs also can’t achieve that, or can only achieve that by blowing upwards of $3,000, the One X is sure to capitalize on that marketing success. It's admittedly crazy to think a developer would use its product to force you to adopt some piece of hardware or software, right? Scroll back up to those PC specs, I'll wait. Notice everyone running Windows 10? Yeah, since Microsoft owns this franchise, if you don't already have it, you gotta pony up $169.99 to upgrade your operating system to Windows 10 if you want to play this on PC. You know, just like no other modern game has had the balls to demand. Why? Because you want to play Forza 7 and Microsoft wants you to have Windows 10, that's it.

singlecoreIBM PCs only kid.

I don’t think it’s an ‘if this, than that’ fallacy to state that if 60fps @ 4k is achievable on a demonstrably less powerful One X with some diligent developer optimization, surely the same if not more should be expected for custom PCs, especially if I drink the OS upgrade Koolaid. Why then are the PC versions nearly unplayable? Probably because ensuring smooth gameplay across a wide range of configurations is hard and this is a console polished port focusing on making the One X experience look great.

The Content

One of the first features thrown out in the war of best racing sim by Forza fans is the car count. This year’s offering is over 700 which is the largest car list out of all the competition. While I certainly appreciate the effort it takes to have so much content to choose from, technically this is only about 60 new cars from Forza 6 as many of them are simple Livery updates to different racing team paint schemes. Additionally, all the cars belong to a certain collector class. Shitty cars you don’t really want will still need to be purchased to help you get more ‘collector score.’ So you are required to waste money and time acquiring less desirable vehicles in order to unlock the ability to purchase slightly more desirable vehicles. The game has multiple levels of collector rating that you must grind through to get into those legendary hyper cars most people are interested in playing with.

If you thought they couldn’t make things any worse, around 150 of the best cars are not even purchasable through normal means. Some cars only appear randomly through a special traveling vender, not unlike that guy in the resident evil series, who has a different selection of cars each week. Others will have to be earned through their new loot box system. Yep, loot boxes... The boxes have a random chance at giving you a car but these boxes cost credits to open. You can potentially spend money to open the same car multiple times due to chance, ya know, like how real racing cars are purchased. And guess what, Turn 10 has already announced that they are going to allow the purchase of a creative and original micro currency called ‘tokens’ to help open those crates. Microtransactions in a $70 AAA game, awesome. Free to plays so jelly right now.

Microsoft-transactions also change the way the races behave. When you purchase your loot boxes, certain modifiable conditions such as time of day and weather are not selectable unless they are earned by opening a loot crate and winning a card for said modification. You read that right, you have to spend your credits or real world money to get a single use options to use the rain they made. Sure, these options net you extra credits but you're still going to have to buy more chances at earning race options. Cool...

But random internet author, Forza 7 has tons of customization options that allow me build my dream car and I love it for that. Me too random internet warrior, me too… But they fucked us on that end as well. Since they couldn't figure out a way to make those into microtransactions (yet), Turn 10 has new angle. A poorly understood and even more terribly explained feature that was added to the game is the new homologation.

TITUSIt’s not what you think, Titus.

Homologation is the new neutering service offered by Forza 7 that removes the completely insane builds that people used to be able to create, or at least removes the reason to make them. The performance index system that rates a vehicle’s… performance wasn’t doing a good enough job as some people were making Datsun 510s that could leave Bugatti Veyrons on the starting line.

DATSUNI don’t see the problem.

So rather than increasing the performance index one would receive from throwing a twin turbo R34 Nissan Skyline engine and switching to a AWD drivetrain, or adding the option to exclude certain cars from races, Turn 10 thought it would be best to punish everyone by adding homologation. This system now assigns each car to categories or divisions such as Modern Hot Hatch, Exotic GT, etc. These divisions all have certain limiting guidelines for racing INCLUDING performance index, tire width, tire compound, horsepower, and even weight.

My Mazda RX7 is a Sports Compact Icon and therefore cannot exceed a performance index of C 500, street rated tires, a tire width of 225, and 275 horsepower. So while nothing other than credits is stopping you from putting a 690 horsepower, 2.6L 4-Rotor Wankel engine in your RX7, you just can’t race it anywhere meaningful in the game, not even online. I’m not even kidding, it can’t race with Exotic GTs, it can’t race with Hot Hatches, it can’t even race with other RX7s if you surpass ANY of those aforementioned restrictions. It just sits in your garage with a large orange exclamation mark on each category you fail to adhere to. Even if you are within the guidlines, you still can't race a Sports Compact Icon against anything other than Sports Compact Icons. Thanks homologation.

SADTITUSThat’s more like it.

The Weather

Turn 10 was overly excited to announce their new dynamic weather system, which was a major showcase talking point in every demo. Except that it wasn’t all that new. Now you can enjoy rapidly developing shifts in weather systems as if Xmen's Storm is playable character. Rain existed in Forza 6, in fact the same exact puddles can be seen being driven through in a comparison video below:

I will say that the updates to the dynamic weather effects are gorgeous and gives a great depth to the environment; even the tracks react to the weather, changing traction. The problem with that is, the AI seems to completely ignore the new grip penalty you as the human driver now have to contend with. And as I mentioned, none of the weather options are naturally selectable when you’re racing in a career mode. Also, with all this focus on making the weather more realistic, why didn't Turn 10 add rain tires?

My main contention with this being one of the main talking points is that it's the exact marketing strategy all the EA sports games employ, pretending they have done a bunch over the past year to justify the $70 asking price on what equates to be their roster update that is every NFL, NBA, FIFA, really any yearly sportsball iteration that has a stranglehold on team licensing. Sure you changed the skins on some cars and added prettier weather, but is that pushing the boundaries of the series? It also seems like a low-priority feature that was really overdone. The rain and fog effects are now so intense that the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile would have to cancel some of the races Forza 7 has you blindly tackling at 200 MPH with racing slicks. So, thanks for that stroke of realism? I can’t think of any other place you could’ve spent your time.

PITSTOPCompletely barren pit stops, probably didn’t want to get wet.

The Multiplayer

Many people are unable to play stable multiplayer, with private races crashing or having unplayable latency issues. Multiplayer issues can arise from a myriad of factors, so not everything is on the developer here, but they certainly don’t help the experience. If you manage to get a multiplayer game up and running, you'll run steadfast into another glaring omission, penalties.

A good part of this is on the fault of the community, but after seven iterations of Motorsport and three attempts at the Horizon series, you should probably know by now that your community is cancer. Many multiplayer racing simulators impose penalties for contact or cutting in-fields or chicanes. Forza 7 didn't see the need for any of that overly restrictive bullshit, like homologation, to make things more fair this release… Because of this, you cannot get through a match without being used as a guard rail by some 14 year old, probably in a shitty Camaro painted like a cop car, taking Leguna Seca turn 8 at 150 MPH.

corkscrewGet fukken rekt scrub.

Then there is the homologation again. Instead of seeing a flurry of custom creations that strive to ride the edge of those new boundaries they introduced, you just get a different set of so called ‘leaderboard cars’ this whole feature was created to help avoid. That’s kind of life though… The 24 Hours of Le Mans historically has had cars that dominate the field and were nerfed the following years. You could argue that those races have strict rules those cars have to adhere to as well, but the spirit of Forza has always been having a virtual garage to build things you otherwise couldn’t and the playground on which to enjoy them. True 24 Hours of Le Mans and other race venue simulators are already out there and do it with a painstaking degree of accuracy.

The Legacy

Forza has always been the semi-serious arcade to games like Gran Turismo, who had 24 hour Nurburgring Endurance races. That’s right, in 2004, on the now archaic Playstation 2, Polyphony Digital included a literal twenty-four fucking hour endurance series. You had to pause that bitch and go to school or trust the AI to not fuck you. The first Forza Motorsport came out a year after that and had 231 cars. All of which were customizable by the way, a thing Gran Turismo still seems to avoid like Charles Barkley at a barbeque. And that’s the magic that gave the Forza series its charm. Everyone was welcome, from the novice to the professional, Forza had something you would enjoy. You learned about parts, stats, and tuning long before Car Mechanic Simulator, and then you could take your creation out of the track to put it up against friends.

This offering of Forza seems disingenuous. It used to get the little details right, like how the Sauber-Mercedes C9 isn't an automatic but any shifting animation for this car is missing entirely. Instead this time it’s catering to gimmicks that line the coffers of developers like loot crates and day one DLC. It has poorly worded pre-order and VIP perks that mislead thousands of customers. It completely restricts a core mechanic, touting it as progress, in attempts to weed out undesirable glitchy cars instead of just focusing on fixing said offenders. All this while forcing you into either Windows 10 or heavily suggesting an Xbox One X. The game just doesn’t seem to be about the petrol. Even if I didn't need dispensation from the Pope to get this game to run, it still doesn’t make me believe it’s about the sport. Instead, this is a proven franchise that, this year atleast, expects the notoriety rather than works to earn it.

And while some improvements have been made to mechanics such as weather systems and new effects like body and chassis strain under cornering and high speeds, these seem like extras that would’ve been warmly welcomed if there were accompanying, like-minded core upgrades. What about long yearned for improvements such as custom track widths for car’s wheel bases, windshield and tire decals, a dynamic pit crew that actually strategizes with you during races, historic race scenarios, varied modes such as hill climb, endurance, and WRX, actual create a driver and not some phoned in drivatar skins, etc? The fans have been vocal, but above that, loyal. Why not reward them with a game they’ve been requesting on the forums for years? Maybe this was just lost in translation but it seems lazier than that. Turn 10 can do better, they have done better, and hopefully they will in the future.