It's been a long road for Forza Motorsport fans. The new instalment in the franchise was announced way back in Summer 2020 and it won't be with us until Spring 2023.
When it does arrive though, it has the chance to properly move the racing genre into the new generation and finally push Gran Turismo off top spot.
The racing wars
The Console Wars have very much died away of late. More and more gamers have access to both sides of the divide, and with every Xbox game available on PC and plenty of titles adding crossplay, there are fewer and fewer moments for true Console Wars. Simcade racing is one of them.
Gran Turismo has long held the crown of simcade king, taking every console release as a new opportunity to push the boundaries and pair realism with accessibility.
However, the decision to put Gran Turismo 7 on PS4 as well as PS5, along with some big blunders by Polyphony in the monetisation and overall experience have left the door wide open for Turn 10, and it looks like they will race right through it.
A living next-gen world
Gran Turismo 7 hyped up its dynamic world, only to then limit it to certain tracks. Forza Motorsport is not making the same mistake.
Every track in Forza Motorsport will have fully dynamic time of day and weather, which impacts things like track temperature as well as grip and visibility.
This was highlighted with more than a wry smile during the recent Xbox Games Showcase, and was almost certainly done to show that Forza Motorsport is going beyond the bar Gran Turismo 7 set.
This world should make every race more interesting and intense, but the ace up Turn 10's sleeve means players will be able to truly feel like they are at the track.
Forza Motorsport will have in-race ray tracing, making reflections and lighting all the more realistic and immersive.
This is again in contrast to GT7's ray tracing which is only available in a certain performance mode and in replays or photo mode, not during the race itself.
While not advertised as an Xbox Series X|S exclusive, it's clear that Turn 10 and Xbox are developing a true next-gen game that will not compromise itself for the previous generation.
Taking the time to get it right
The Forza Motorsport series is in a precarious place. Recent instalments have been relatively lacklustre, while the Horizon series has overtaken its big brother in popularity.
With almost three years between announcement and release though, Turn 10 is clearly putting the hours in to get Forza Motorsport right.
Gran Turismo 7 on the other hand arrived feeling rushed. From rally physics being completely broken to its thin content, players didn't have much to do in GT7.
With the array of cars and locations shown, including tracks like Maple Valley and Kyalami that GT7 doesn't have, it looks like Forza Motorsport will have plenty of fresh racing for players to enjoy.
Updated physics, handling, and tyre models are all promising, while playtesting is also a good sign that Turn 10 isn't scared to let people into the game even at an early stage.
Can Polyphony react?
Gran Turismo 7 isn't necessarily dead and buried though. Polyphony has at least nine months before their big rival launches, giving them some time to react.
We already know that features like selling cars are on route, and new events, cars, and tracks will arrive down the road too. But with GT7 fundamentally lacking a career mode and struggling with multiplayer lobbies there is a lot of work to do.
Forza's PC availability, along with day 1 Game Pass access, means there will be a lot of players willing to give it a go and whose time Turn 10 can steal away from Gran Turismo 7. Unless of course GT7 can truly evolve.
Delivering on the promises
Naturally, Turn 10 and Xbox are hyping up Forza Motorsport, and after the gameplay demo it's hard not to buy into it. But we should all remember how shaky Forza Horizon 5 was on launch and the issues Gran Turismo 7 had with expectations vs reality.
Turn 10 has a lot to deliver on. Can they really get a smooth 60 fps while including in-race ray tracing? Will the dynamic weather play as well as Gran Turismo's system? Just how accurate and improved will their handling and physics be?
There's a lot we can't know until the game arrives next year, and the more Forza Motorsport pushes the hype, the harder it will be to meet expectations.
With more and more racers willing to give sim titles like Assetto Corsa a go, players need a degree of simulation along with the accessibility expected in a console title.
It's a delicate balance that Gran Turismo 7, for all its faults, pretty much nails. Forza Motorsport can have all the shiny visuals it wants and recreate every track in the world, but if the nuts and bolts of the racing is no good then Forza Motorsport will stall at the start line and fail to capitalise on the rough state of Gran Turismo.
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