Forza Motorsport's Car Building Career Actually Sounds Great – Jalopnik

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On October 10 we’ll finally get our hands on Turn 10 Studios’ grand new vision for Forza Motorsport. And while we know the game will look and sound better than ever before, with a massively overhauled physics engine and other typical sim racing gen-on-gen improvements, one of the major question marks surrounding the game has been its single-player career mode.

Last week we got a taste of that, courtesy the most recent Forza Monthly stream. Game Director Chris Esaki walked fans though a typical loop of the campaign, which is now called Builders Cup. It seems to correct many of the sins plaguing the solitary experience in modern racing games.
Like the name suggests, Builders Cup is about car building — not car collection, Esaki was quick to point out, which already tells you something about where Turn 10's head is at regarding this Motorsport reboot. Honestly, that in and of itself is a relief. Years of racing games with massive car rosters, throwing vehicles at you for every minor achievement, have made the collection angle stale. FM’s career mode is designed to encourage you to tweak your car after every race, and make your garage uniquely yours.
Builders Cup events play out as championships. Each round is preempted by a practice session, where good driving is rewarded with Car XP. Car XP in turn unlocks categories of upgrades in the tuning shop. As you continue to drive a particular car, more parts will become available to you. Those parts are purchased with Car Points, awarded after every race, alongside the usual credits used to buy cars as always.
If you’re averse to a plurality of in-game currencies as I am, that might sound overwhelming. But divorcing money used for upgrades with that reserved for car buying makes sense for a game where building is the focus. Longtime Motorsport fans will also remember that some version of XP has almost always been a facet of the series going back to the very first entry, when players would receive manufacturer affinity discounts on parts and cars depending on what they drove. Maxing out any car’s XP to level 50, which Esaki estimated would take about three hours, grants price reductions on all future purchases from that brand.
Forza has also had a tradition of rewarding players for forgoing assists and ratcheting up AI difficulty, and a version of that persists in the new Challenge The Grid component. Here, you’ll choose precisely where you want to start every race within a field of up to 24 competitors. Sticking yourself further down the running order gives you a larger payout should you reach the podium. Assists no longer play into this process. That’s the right move, as Turn 10 doesn’t want to discourage anyone from racing virtual cars.

Each round in a particular Builders Cup championship will up the performance level compared with the last, so yours and your rivals’ cars will evolve through a series of races. This slow-to-fast progression is something Esaki says fans have been clamoring for — myself included. The types of cars you’ll be racing at the beginning of the Builders Cup will also be far more modest than those you’ll find yourself in at the end, evoking that rags-to-riches ascendancy of the golden years of both Forza and Gran Turismo.
Couple all of this with new artificial intelligence, which is said to leverage machine learning to be authentically fast “without cheats or hacks,” as well as comprehensive upgrades to physics fundamentals like the tire model (it now samples from eight different parts of the contact patch rather than one, and also polls six times more frequently than in FM7), and least on paper, there’s plenty to be excited about.
Some concerns still remain. Following in Gran Turismo 7's footsteps, Motorsport’s campaign is now entirely online, as anything related to progression has to be tracked and verified by Microsoft’s servers. That’s a bummer. Also, for a car building-based campaign to really truly great, the customization itself has to be a winner. This is something Forza has let languish over recent releases relative to the competition — yes, even GT.
The number of exclusive parts for every car has been sorely lacking; for many vehicles, only the universal Forza-branded splitters and wings are selectable, and those look ugly more often than not. The livery and painting suite is positively decrepit, while details like wheel offset, tire stretch, and leeway over the appearance of components like brakes, lighting and exhaust have been nowhere to be found. If the developers want players to enjoy building cars in Forza Motorsport or Horizon — it needs to give them the proper tools to realize the vision in their head.

I hope we see some gains on that front. From a progression standpoint though, Forza Motorsport has a lot going for it, especially coming off of GT7's disjointed Café system, and Horizon’s reluctance to challenge players. Roll on, October.

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