Review: Forza Motorsport, 3 Months Later

It doesn’t take a lot of research to see that Forza Motorsport had a mixed reception when it was launched. While it was great to see the Forza Motorsport name back on everyone’s Xbox dashboards with some great racing to be had, there were a few issues that people were getting a bit bummed out over. Some rough matchmaking online, replays that did bizarre things and online racing etiquette that lent itself more towards Destruction Derby the Gran Turismo didn’t help things along. But the promise was always there; the online systems themselves worked wonderfully with individual qualifying and practice before each race, and there was some lovely weather options which meant you were always at risk of rain no matter where you were or if it was gorgeous sunshine 10 laps ago.

But Turn 10 have been busy, making fixes and updates that have started to sort out the issues that people struggled with initially. So we thought we’d go back, have a look at where things were, and give you the review of how the game is right now if you were to download it and fire up your engines.

First off, there’s been a fair few things added since launch. Numerous cars have joined the game, as well as some interesting track choices such as Yas Marina, Hockenheim, Daytona Speedway and the epic Nordschleife – more variety definitely isn’t a bad thing, so it’s great to see these new additions. With further updates promised with even more new stuff, there’s certainly plenty to look forward to.

These tracks have entered the multiplayer rotation too, which remains a double edged sword when it comes to taking to the track. Firstly, as a Gran Turismo player I absolutely love the individua practice and qualifying for each race. There’s no hours upon hours of lapping repeatedly until you get the perfect quali lap, on Forza you get a few minutes to practice (depending on how early you join the event) then a maximum of three qualifying laps – make a mess of it and you’ll be near the back, no matter how good you are. As such you’re rewarded for nailing the perfect lap, and gives those with less experience a good chance to start closer to the front.

That, however, brings about one remaining issue – the driving standards. While the penalty system does a reasonable job of punishing aggressive driving, the matchmaking still seems a little random. There’s a perfectly good safety rating in place, but unlike GT7 it’s hidden away and impossible to know where the aggressive drivers are in the field, or indeed if it’s even being taken into account when putting a grid of drivers together. When you get a good bunch to race with, it’s amazing. Right now though, there’s more chance your race will be ruined by someone more keen on ramming you off the road. We’re at a point where this is more akin to an online race on GRID rather than GT7, something you can probably pin to the fact that there’s no proximity radar like you get on GT or Assetto Corsa, instead some vague proximity arrows that tell you when someone’s nearby without actually being overly helpful. it’d be great to see something extra here as the game moves forwards.

One thing that was properly broken at launch was the race replays. Instead of using the amazing potential of the Forza engine to show races back from various angles (which could have been spectacular for the better races), you got a field of cars sat on the grid and… that’s it. Well, not exactly, if you held the accelerator or brake during the replay you could make the cars sink into the ground or fly into the air. But actually show the race? Not a chance. This has now, thankfully, been fixed. Replays save and play back as you would expect, and the results are visually as lovely as you’d hope for. There still isn’t much control over what you’re seeing, and if you just want to see that amazing last corner overtake you’ll need to just speed up the replay until you get there instead of skipping entire laps. What doesn’t help is the lack of on-screen race info to let you know just which lap you’re on, so while you can see all sorts of technical telemetry data which will help those wondering why their tyres suddenly went off a cliff, the actual info about the race itself is still lacking.

All of this adds up to some real frustration, because the racing can be spectacular. While this hasn’t pulled me away from GT7, I still come back to it regularly. The online racing is so full of promise, with the qualifying format, the frequently changing races and tracks, the various strategies on offer by letting you pick your own fuel level and tyres, the variable weather and time of day on every track… there’s so much here that could easily lift it beyond any other console racer out there. But there’s still, even a few months on, just a handful of things still a bit wonky. If these issues can be ironed out in the coming months we could have a real tug-of-war between whether to race on the Xbox or PS5, and while right now I personally feel like it’s not an even competition, it wouldn’t take much at all for that to totally flip on its head.

I’d still recommend picking this up or grabbing it on GamePass, but be aware there’s still work to be done.