Forza Motorsport Review | Pedal to the metal

Simulation racing has never looked, sounded, and felt this good.

Forza Motorsport presents an interesting point for the franchise and Xbox itself. The last mainline entry, Forza Motorsport 7 was released all the way back in 2017 and has since then been delisted due to licensing issues. The most recent Forza Horizons is an excellent title but one that leans more towards arcade/casual gameplay. With the early head start PlayStation has with 2022’s Gran Turismo 7, Turn 10 Studios has a lot of catching up to do in the sim-racing department. Fortunately, Forza Motorsport has been producing really good laps, the question is will it continue to keep its strong position in the race?

It’s worth noting that I come from a very casual racing background. I grew up on titles like Need for Speed, Burnout, and Mario Kart. While sim-racing isn’t anything new to me, this is definitely the first time that I have dedicated a significant amount of time trying to learn its in-depth systems. This review is from the perspective of someone who doesn’t live and breathe sim-racing but has always been curious about it. Forza Motorsport might just be the perfect platform for people like me to see what really makes the genre so popular among its most passionate fans.


Forza Motorsport career mode

It’s hard to not notice the lack of a numerical value in the title despite the game being a mainline entry into the franchise. Xbox and Turn 10 Studios have said that they did this to show that Forza Motorsport is not just another numbered entry that is expected to come and go with expectations of a new one releasing in the next few years. The developers have stated that Motorsport will be a platform that they will continue to invest in with content updates, fixes, and overhauls. In other words, Forza Motorsport will be a live-service game.

While the games-as-a-service model is a bit of an eyebrow-raising concept for most gamers, having been burnt with multiple unfinished titles on release, content being pulled back for greedy profits, and less-than-stellar updates, Forza Motorsport doesn’t seem like it has any of that, for now at least. The package being offered on release feels feature-complete and well worth the time I have invested in it. I don’t get the “one more race” syndrome because Forza Motorsport has predatory padding to its gameplay. I load in another race because it’s fun and I’m hooked with the progression system that favors your relationship with your car and how it relates to your individual skill. This isn’t just a good racing-sim game, it’s a naturally engaging time to be had in general.

The main star of the show is Career mode. this is where you start from the ground up and try to improve yourself and your car on increasingly difficult tracks. There are multiple options to choose from here where you can race with different car classes or even have a mixed competition setup. There’s a healthy amount of variety in terms of what is being offered here which I easily sunk dozens of hours into.

However, what I love about Career mode the most is this is where Forza Motorsport shows just how much it encourages you to be better. Even before getting behind the wheel, there are a number of accessibility options that are presented for you to tweak your gameplay experience in whatever way you want it. Sim racing is an intimidating genre to get into but Forza Motorsport gives the necessary training wheels that make getting into it far more enjoyable than I had expected. Simulated track lines, assisted braking, or AI difficulty customization options are just a scrape of the surface of what can be changed. This definitely helped me in my opening hours as I quickly found out that drifting corners and bumping into other racers isn’t exactly a winning formula for a game like Forza.

Aside from settings, the basic gameplay loop has you stepping into Practice sessions first before taking on the race itself. Here, you can track your stats, lap performances, and corner turns, and just get an overall feel of the track before you take it on in real competition. Afterward, you’re given the chance to tweak your car with an extensive array of options. More on this later.

And of course, the main part of it all, the racing itself. In order to avoid sounding too nerdy on this, I’m happy to report that the claimed physics overhaul and refinements from previous titles are definitely felt in Forza Motorsport. Cars feel nice and weighty but never to the point that they sacrifice speed and momentum. Colliding with other cars, hitting a corner, or going off-road is immediately communicated to the player with excellent use of controller vibrations. And to ass a cherry on top, the sound design is fantastic.

Visually, you know what you’re getting with a Forza game. A near-flawless recreation of car models, tracks, and environments. This is a franchise that you use to flex those Ray Tracing capable rigs because of the amount of shine, polish, accuracy, grit, and graphical immersion at display in Forza Motorsport makes this one of the best-looking games of the year. The game is at its best when the race takes place at night, it’s raining as particle effects hit the tarmac, the car, and the screen, while LED lights are whiffing past in the distance. This game is a real looker and one that deserves to be played on the best screen possible.

A small caveat is that since I played this on a 2022 Asus ROG Flow X16 gaming laptop, despite it being a beefy portable device, did mean that I had to lower are graphical settings in order to meet a fairly stable 40-60 fps on normal gameplay. But even when all things were turned down, the game didn’t look all that bad. I didn’t experience any crashes or any significant performance issues. I even tried going back a little bit before writing this review to see how much the day 1 patch has improved performances and it seems like Turn 10 Studios has done an amazing job when it comes to optimizing this beast of a game for lower-end specs. It’s one thing to create a visual powerhouse, it’s another to make it run on hardware that isn’t exactly up-to-date.

Fast and the Furious

Forza Motorsport multiplayer

After just spending a couple of hours messing around with the Singleplayer content, I felt confident enough to test out my newly gained sim-racing skills against real players. Normally, the one bad thing about early-access reviews is that there isn’t really any opportunity to test out what the game’s multiplayer is like in a live setting. However, Xbox scheduled timeslots where media and developers can come together and play on the various multiplayer modes. Whether this includes qualifier races or events themselves.

These aren’t private matches where every variable can be determined. They just informed us of the times when most reviewers and developers would go online and we let standard matchmaking bring us together. This might just be a small thing in the long run but it’s something that I have to praise as it shows just how confident they are in their online infrastructure. We were given the option to matchmake in set times for the most amount of chances to be in the same lobby with other people or in our own free time. I choose to do both just to see how the servers go.

Online matches follow the same format as Career mode. Before an event begins, you are given the option to practice on the track itself as many times as you want. Once the countdown is over, you are quickly loaded into the track. Your starting position will be determined by the 3 qualifier matches that you have to do prior to joining any race event.

In all the online matches I’ve played, I only experienced one weird connection rubberbanding issue that lasted for nothing more than about 5 seconds. Everything else went as smoothly as the race track itself. While I’m not exactly sure how much the servers will hold up once the game launches for everyone else but at least in the times when it was just me and a handful amount of media, reviewers, content creators, and developers, the connection was solid.

I was initially scared to embarrass myself as I expected to go up against much more experienced sim-racers while I was here just enjoying the process of learning it all myself. However, I was pleasantly surprised by just how wholesome the whole online experience was given the small but effective social features Forza Motorsport has. While in the middle of the race, the D-pad is dedicated to either turning on the mic or sending quick messages such as Sorry and Good luck! Throughout my online sessions, my fellow racers would talk about the game itself, how much they enjoy racing, and do playful banter with one another. While I wouldn’t blame you if you’re thinking that this can easily turn into toxic discourse, my main takeaway here is what was being talked about.

I assume that the people I matched with were mostly developers with the way they sounded and I could just tell by their tone and their conversations that a lot of heart and attention was put into making Forza Motorsport. They sounded enthusiastic, hopeful, and excited to just play the game that they spent years working on and to finally send it out into the wild.


The progression in Forza Motorsport is where it hits the ground running for me. It places less focus on collecting as many cars as possible (even though you can still do that) but more on intimately developing your chosen car as a reflection of your personal needs and skillset. The developers really wanted to emphasize the relationship between car and driver this time around and for me, it was definitely the right call to make.

Forza Motorsport is a game that’s all about chasing numbers. Not in the grindy MMORPG type of way, but more on determiners of success. Each lap you take, every turn you make, and nearly everything you do on the track has a corresponding response. You’re screen is filled with timers, accomplishments, and visual cues of what you just did and what it means for you as the racer. I was constantly trying to beat my own personal best lap times. It came to the point where I didn’t really care much about my positioning in the race but more so if I could do this one lap about a few milliseconds faster.

Doing a perfect turn, accelerating at set speeds, or avoiding going off-track are achievements of their own and are immediately communicated to the player once accomplished. These all factor into the car leveling system where you can acquire new parts, and unlock new segments to customize later on. Seeing that bar fill up on the top right and seeing a “New Personal Best!” notification is dopamine in its purest form and I always want to chase it.

After each race, you are given a breakdown of earned credits, XP, and new car parts gained. It didn’t feel like the game was stingy about this or artificially holding back on rewarding players in order to force them to play a bit more. Granted, I did have the VIP pass which gave a little bonus after every race so take that into consideration.

When it comes to customizing your car, the options are as extensive as you would think it is. Everything from wheels, rims, tubes, brake supports, skeletal frames, etc. can be changed depending on your needs. Do you want more acceleration? Breaking power? Better handling? Less weight to carry? If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, there’s also an entirely separate tuning menu where you can change everything down to the most minute decimal. But despite all the options, it didn’t feel overwhelming at the start given how well Forza Motorsport drip feeds and explains it all to you and how it works.

For those who are scared about tinkering with all of it and think that a strong knowledge of cars is required, there’s also an auto upgrade system where the game will do it for you and will show you what parts were changed, and what effects it has on a statistical sense. This is a fantastic system that really saved me in my first few hours. I only wish that it had a little bit more explanation or educational sense for those who are just getting into car customization.

Learning how your car works equips you with the natural knowledge of what needs to be changed and tweaked. Before I knew it, I was already listing down in my head what parts to swap around while in the middle of a lap just because I missed a new personal record by .5 seconds. I started looking back on my turns, how a slight bump to the side cost me precious momentum or a slightly early break was the difference between a perfect wide swing or someone passing me by.

There is a lot of risk and reward here. In Singleplayer, you are given the option to choose what is your starting position. The game will give you a projected finish based on previous player data. This almost acts as a bit of a competition in itself as I use it as a motivator to prove the system wrong and place better than it predicted me to. The closer you place yourself in the front, the fewer bonus credits you will receive once you finish the race. Aside from this, you can also tweak race rules and enemy AI behavior. Again, the easier it is, the less rewards you’ll get.

Forza Motorsport Review Final Verdict – 9/10

The biggest win Forza Motorsport has is just how much it pulled me into the massive world of sim-racing. While it keeps all the in-depth features that made Forza a staple franchise in the first place, it also provides beginners a wide-open track of reasons to try the game for themselves.

At launch, there are 500 cars with 20 tracks to play with. And of course, more are coming with constant updates. The developers have already claimed that they will not do the usual and played-out seasonal format with battlepasses. Hopefully, this means that Forza Motorsport will be updated with content that matters and not one that feels like it was just meant to fill in a quota. There is a really strong foundation here that I can only see getting better as more updates come in.

Regardless if you’re a sim racer or not, Forza Motorsport is a must-try for Xbox and PC players. Given that it comes out on Game Pass on day one, you really don’t have any reason to not get behind the wheel yourself.


Forza Motorsport provides an amazing experience for both veterans and newcomers alike. This is boosted by satisfying progression, gameplay systems that promotes natural improvement, and a feature-rich content offerings that will only continue to grow. This is a racing game for those who love the genre, the ones who aren't all that familiar with it, and ones that just want to have some fun playing a game as it is.