2019 has officially arrived and with it comes another year of Forza goodness. Typically, the first half of the year would see Forza fans begin to speculate about the next entry into the long-running racing franchise. There’s no doubt that the series is like clockwork, with developers Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games successfully releasing a new Forza game every year without delay. It’s a franchise that’s been annualized since 2011’s Forza Motorsport 4, but this year is shaping up to be a little different, especially when considering comments made by Turn 10 regarding its Forza Motorsport series.
“100% of Turn 10’s Motorsport team is still working on Forza Motorsport 7.” It was the line used by Turn 10’s Creative Director Dan Greenawalt at E3 2018 during an E3 Coliseum Panel that showed a different approach from the developer towards its games. The remark came nine months after the release of Forza Motorsport 7, but the fact that the entire team at the time remained fully-focused on the game came across as a surprise. Smaller teams would typically handle post-launch support for a newly-released title whilst the rest of the studio would focus on its sequel or another project. That hasn’t been the case for Turn 10 and its latest game, however, which has received continuous monthly content updates since release, introducing new cars, features and content experiences – with even more to come throughout 2019.
Chris Esaki, a Creative Director on Forza Motorsport 7 who joined Turn 10 Studios a few months after the game’s release, reiterated the remarks made by Greenawalt on a Forza Monthly show in July. “I just wanna reiterate this message, I know other people have said this before, but the entire team – 100% – the entire Forza Motorsport team right now is working on Forza Motorsport 7. What that means is we're not going off making Forza Motorsport 8. We’re actually not going off and making a grand new expansion. What we’re doing is investing in the Motorsport experience that you guys have right now – which makes it just better for everyone.”
Forza Motorsport 8 is the inevitable successor to Forza Motorsport 7 to follow last year’s release of Forza Horizon 4, and on the typical annualized cadence we’re used to, the title would make its debut at this year’s E3 followed by a release towards the end of the year. However, based on the above comments from Esaki and Greenawalt, that doesn’t appear to be the plan. Microsoft and Turn 10 has yet to clarify whether we’ll see a new Forza game in 2019 or not, but based on the current direction of Forza Motorsport 7 and Forza Horizon 4, it would appear that the plan for this year is to continue building upon the foundations laid by those experiences to introduce new features and content for players to discover, including those which have been highly-requested by fans.
Undoubtedly, the Forza Race Regulations adjudication system is the biggest post-launch initiative to be undertaken in the developer’s history. Ready to make its debut in Forza Motorsport 7 later this year, the studio looks at Forza Race Regulations as “a genre-defining learning system.” This isn’t being treated as “a one and done scenario,” and it’s taken years for it to come together in the way it has. Turn 10 has built Forza Race Regulations to become part of the “Forza Motorsport DNA” moving forward and it has longer-term plans for this feature as it evolves in the future. One aspect of this is the fact it’s a learning system and it’ll aim to detect whether collisions have been made purposeful or not – allowing Turn 10 to improve the feature in the future based on cloud-driven data.
Forza Race Regulations will become an incredibly important aspect of the Forza Motorsport franchise and the first phase of it will come to Forza Motorsport 7’s online multiplayer component within the coming months. Expect it to be available in select online Hoppers and Leagues, as well as Private Lobbies, before becoming more widely accessible across all aspects of the game in the future. It’s important to note that Forza Race Regulations will roll out as a server-level feature, allowing the developer to adjust the system based on feedback once it’s in the hands of the public without shipping an entirely new content update. Turn 10 has also developed its own pre-sets for the system, including those with easy rules and minimal penalties all the way up to esports standards as seen in the Forza Racing Championship.
With Forza Race Regulations, Turn 10 strives to make people better drivers on Forza Motorsport 7, and in its final Forza Monthly broadcast of 2018, the developer hinted towards the idea of having some form of “driving school” in the game. At the time, it stressed that it didn’t have anything firm to announce on this just yet, but its something that is being investigated. Forza Race Regulations is all about promoting sportsmanship on the track and educating players about what’s right and wrong in motorsport. The execution of this feature is undoubtedly crucial, which is why Turn 10 is taking their time with the adjudication system and ensuring it can be updated server-side following its addition to Forza Motorsport 7.
There’s no doubt that Forza Race Regulations will make a significant improvement to the online multiplayer experience should it be properly executed but Turn 10 hasn’t forgotten about fans of single-player racing either. The developer is working on an improved version of its Drivatar AI functionality to make offline races more compeititve and exciting. Internally, the team has been experimenting with a new driving line for Drivatars and has already seen “really good results,” according to Creative Director Chris Esaki. Turn 10 is aiming to make its AI Drivatar functionality as good as that of real players – even professional ForzaRC drivers, without using any assists or power boosts to make them faster. Esaki admitted he isn’t too fond of how unrealistic the ‘Unbeatable’ Drivatar setting is and wants to change all of that with this improved iteration of the cloud-powered AI functionality. This is another of Turn 10’s “big investments” for Forza Motorsport 7 and we’ll hear more about it throughout 2019.
In recent months, Turn 10 has discussed its vision of reworking the Forza Fundamentals and the repositioning Forza Motorsport 7 as a true Motorsport experience. It has already revamped its force-feedback and collision model to benefit hardcore players, but internally, the developer has a vehicle dynamics and physics roadmap that takes the team to 2021. “We love racing, we are a motorsport team,” Esaki stressed when discussing this roadmap on the October edition of Forza Monthly. It was on this same broadcast that the Creative Director mentioned a “great gift of time” that the developer has received with Forza Motorsport 7 – something that has never happened before in the history of the Motorsport franchise. Esaki believes the core fundamentals of the game “need to get stronger,” and that includes aspects like track layers, collision systems, the core online multiplayer experience, AI, and so forth.
One of those core fundamentals includes the drafting experience, which currently delivers unfavourable results in Forza Motorsport 7. It’s an aspect of the game that Esaki has noted to be on the internal “to-do” list, but concrete details surrounding improvements have yet to be officially specified. Turn 10 is also working on a redesigned livery space to deliver an improved painting experience for creators. This will include better lightning conditions in a more natural environment with selectable light schemes, allowing artists to bring their creations to life in a more realistic, illuminated space. Whilst discussing the feature, Esaki also mentioned that he wants to improve the overall lighting system used across all of Forza Motorsport 7. You can expect these improvements to roll out during the year, with the revamped livery booth expected to ship soon.
Turn 10 is also committed to introducing a new Spotlight Car into Forza Motorsport 7 with each passing month, complimented by an assortment of events associated to that vehicle. The initiative begun last May and has gone on to be a hit with fans, introducing classic racing legends, modern supercars and endurance race machines. The latest of these Spotlight cars, the 2018 #1 BMW M Motorsport M8 GTE, arrived into Forza Motorsport 7 last December and proved to be a very popular addition among fans. Expect new Spotlight Cars to arrive into Forza Motorsport 7’s ever-expanding car roster with each passing month, free to everyone.
Meanwhile, Forza Motorsport 7 Car Pass holders also have one additional Car Pack to look forward to, which is also expected to arrive soon. Details about the contents of the pack have yet to be revealed, but it’s the second of two additional Car Packs that were announced for Car Pass holders last May during a special Forza segment on Inside Xbox, which is when the developer first discussed it plans for Forza Race Regulations, as well as the improved Drifting experience and Experimental Drag, both of which arrived in August and September, respectively. The first of these new add-ons for Car Pass holders was the well-received Top Gear Car Pack in July, which introduced the 2018 McLaren 720S and the 2017 Ferrari 812 Superfast into Forza Motorsport 7.
Meanwhile, the overhauled Drag Racing experience, which arrived in September as an “experimental” feature for Forza Motorsport 7, will likely be fleshed out and expanded upon throughout 2019. In its current state, it remains exclusive to Free Play on the Dubai Drag Strip. Whilst Turn 10 has yet to discuss its future roadmap for the feature, one would expect it to become available in Private Lobbies and Hoppers later this year and expand to all the available Drag strips in Forza Motorsport 7, including those at the Airfield, Hockenheim and Sonoma. Experimental Drag was released as a feature with limited-scope initially to gather feedback from players, introducing substantial improvements over the standard Drag mode that has existed in the franchise for years. Using feedback gathered from the community, the new Experimental Drag mode will likely receive tweaks and improvements before becoming the new standard Drag Racing experience across all areas of Forza Motorsport 7.
Beyond all the content updates and feature implementation, there’s a lot of speculation surrounding the possibility of expansions for Forza Motorsport 7. Turn 10 has yet to be release a paid expansion in the traditional style for the game, whilst Forza Horizon 4 has already received its first one in Fortune Island. Turn 10’s Chris Esaki has acknowledged this, saying back in July, “I hear you guys in terms of expansions, and we’re actively looking at all different ways of increasing the content. I mean, obviously, we have cars and cars and cars, and we’re building deeper events and experiences around those cars. We’re looking at tracks, we’re looking at all sorts of other content expansions, but I look at every month as an expansion for us. Every month for us is really about building new experiences – a deeper and more robust Forza Motorsport 7, and we hear the community – this is what we’re doing right now.”
Turn 10 is treating its monthly content updates as expansions to the Forza Motorsport 7 experience and these “expansions” will likely become more substantial as the year progresses, especially if new tracks are introduced, as alluded to by Esaki in his above comment. Between that and his remark about “other content expansions,” there’s clearly plenty of new, unannounced experiences planned for Forza Motorsport 7 to release in the future. Between the possibility of new tracks, features and improvements, there’s a lot to look forward to as Turn 10 continues to shepherd and improve its latest Forza Motorsport game, which should most certainly keep fans engaged over the next 12 months, even if there’s a lack of a brand-new Forza title in 2019.
However, it won’t just be Forza Motorsport 7 receiving new content experiences throughout the year. Playground Games also has a lot in store for Forza Horizon 4 fans as well, including the eagerly-awaited second expansion to follow Fortune Island, as well as monthly updates designed to introduce new content, features and improvements based on fan-feedback. January will see the arrival of a new Solo Adventure experience to compliment the current Team Adventure mode, based on feedback from the community. The developer is also investigating ways to prevent “wall-riding” from offering a speed advantage in online races, and is planning to increase the number of cars, liveries and tunes that you can own at once.
The Route Creator is also a feature expected to receive a lot of attention throughout 2019. It’s the first of its kind in the Forza franchise and was introduced into Forza Horizon 4 just a month after its release. In its current state, the tool is quite basic, but it does allow you to map out custom routes with selectable checkpoints that can be saved and shared online for the entire community to download. Playground has already acknowledged the limitations of the feature and is investigating ways to make it more flexible and useful, including the addition of stunt ramps and track barriers, based on community feedback.
Playground Games will continue to update and improve Forza Horizon 4 based on feedback requests from the community, but also its own internal roadmap. In addition, the developer will also introduce new cars and in-game events with its weekly seasonal changes. This include rare cars like the recently-added 2010 Mosler MT900S, as well as new clothing options to suit the current time of year. Of course, the big addition that players will be looking forward to is the second post-launch expansion for Forza Horizon 4. The developer has yet to share any official info about this upcoming release, but it should prove to be a little more on the wacky and unpredictable side of things, like the beloved Hot Wheels expansion for Forza Horizon 3. Whilst Fortune Island successfully follows the path of Blizzard Mountain and Storm Island by delivering more extreme gameplay in a perilous environment, the second expansion for Forza Horizon 4 will likely focus on uncharted territory for the Forza franchise – something that’s a bit out of the ordinary.
Whilst this upcoming release will be the second and final announced expansion featured in the Forza Horizon 4 Ultimate Edition, the developer intends to deliver even more in the future. As exclusively revealed to us in an interview with Playground Games’ Ralph Fulton at the Goodwood Estate to celebrate the launch of Forza Horizon 4, the Creative Director mentioned “that there will be at least two, but our intent is to do more than that this time. We’ve got some great ideas, that you know, I won’t bore you with.” Obviously, no further details were revealed about what future expansions could entail, but they each typically introduce a brand-new world location to discover alongside an an assortment of new rides to collect, race and customize, as well as a curated selection of new events to complete and blueprint.
In addition to the upcoming expansions and weekly content drops, the developer will also incentivise players to replay its Showcase events in Forza Horizon 4 by “remixing” them in the future. That means changing the car, weather, time-of-day and season used across these one-of-a-kind races. Here’s how Ralph Fulton described the concept to us whilst discussing Showcase events at the Goodwood launch celebration; “What remixes are gonna allow us to do is take the Showcases that are in the game and remix them. Put a different theme on them, put a different time of day, move it out into a different season, change the car you’re in, change the music – and give you the same Showcase but in a slightly different flavour, hopefully in a way that makes you go back and go, ‘oh, that was a cool experience, you know, it was quite different from the original.’”
Forza Horizon 4 will also expand on its offering of Horizon Stories. One month after release, the developer introduced the ‘British Racing Green’ storyline alongside its Route Creator. There’s even plans to expand on the number of business offerings in the game, too. Currently, there’s only one purchasable business start-up available to acquire in Edinburgh. It’s a supercar rental business called ‘World’s Fastest Rentals’ and it even has 10 associated chapters available to complete that sees you getting behind-the-wheel of some of Forza Horizon 4’s hottest rides.
But at E3, Playground also teased another business that will arrive into the game – a taxi firm, one that players expected to be available at release but surprisingly wasn’t present when Forza Horizon 4 launched. This is a business inspired by Crazy Taxi and it will see you picking up fares around Britain and dropping them off at their designated locations. Whilst it’s not currently available, the taxi firm should arrive soon – based on what Ralph Fulton told us at Goodwood. “In much the same way that the British Racing Green story is coming with Update 1, we will endeavour to bring lots more Horizon Stories, of which the taxi business will be among,” he says.
Undoubtedly, there’s a lot in store for both Forza Motorsport 7 and Forza Horizon 4 throughout 2019. With post-launch support and substantial content updates at the forefront of Turn 10 and Playground Games’ initiatives for the year, there’s much to be excited about – including the return of Microsoft’s premier racing esports series for its 2019 season, the Forza Racing Championship, which is played on Forza Motorsport 7. Most updates released for the game in 2018 focused on the esports experience for compeititve drivers and pros alike and this won’t be changing anytime soon, especially with the imminent release of the Forza Race Regulations adjudication system.
Forza Motorsport 7 has indisputably received significant changes and improvements since its release in October 2017 and the same is expected for Forza Horizon 4 too – especially based on Fulton’s comments at the Forza E3 Coliseum panel following the reveal of the game. “Whether that’s new experiences, new features, responses to community feedback – our commitment is that the team will continue to develop and evolve and change the game almost with the passing seasons as well. So, the game you see at launch will not resemble the game that you’ll be playing in a month or two months or six months or years to come.”
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he delivers the latest in news stories, reviews, and feature articles to the website, as well as videos on his YouTube channel and livestreams over on Mixer.