Microsoft opened its first ever European retail store in London’s Oxford Circus on July 11th, 2019. It’s a one-stop shop for all the company’s consumer-focused and productivity inspired efforts, headlined by its Xbox and PC gaming initiatives, as well as its line-up of Surface PCs, its mixed reality HoloLens headsets and even its Office suite of tools. I had the chance to visit the store last week whilst visiting the bustling English capital and found that gaming was truly front and centre of the firm's new flagship store.
Naturally, Gears 5 was being heavily promoted considering its release earlier this month. The limited-edition ice-infused Xbox One X console could be found across multiple areas of the store, whilst Minecraft adornments were also plentiful. Immediately, I found myself at the dedicated Forza Motorsport 7 simulator setup, in which visitors could get their hands on with the game from the inside of a McLaren Senna supercar.
It was truly spectacular. Driving a McLaren Senna in-game on the Silverstone Circuit in the UK. It’s the perfect setting, too – considering both the car and track are British, and even Forza Horizon 4 itself is set in beautiful, historic Britain and naturally had many of its own playable stations. It’s really a perfect storm when it all comes together at Microsoft’s new retail store in the capital, but the Forza Motorsport 7 demo is something else – it gives the impression that you’re driving the Senna down the British GP circuit and the car itself even moves around and vibrates as you feel the response of every nook and mistake. It’s quite exhilarating and immersive, to say the least.
The Senna is quite a beast to control, though the demo does enable most of Forza Motorsport 7’s assists, so it shouldn’t be much of a challenge – even for the most novice of players. The gas tank of the near million-pound supercar has been modified with Xbox controller buttons, used for navigating the interface of the game itself to setup and replay hot-lap events, whilst the accelerator and brake are naturally where you’d expect them to be. The driver’s seat can also be adjusted for comfort and better access to the pedals, and whilst attendees only receive one-lap inside the car, it makes the queuing time go by relatively quick. You’ll likely end up spending more time trying to get in and out of the Senna than playing – if you’ve never sat inside a supercar before, it can be tricky!
Those eager for even more Forza Motorsport 7 can head upstairs to the Microsoft Store’s dedicated gaming lounge. Here, you can enjoy some split-screen action using dedicated wheel setups or check out Forza Horizon 4 or any of the other games available to play, including Gears 5 and Minecraft. In addition to using controllers or keyboard and mouse, Microsoft also has its Xbox Adaptive Controller hooked up to these play stations, allowing everyone to play.
Overall, it’s an impressive showing for Microsoft’s gaming efforts and it comes together all so perfectly at this bespoke retail outlet located in the heart of Europe’s busiest shopping street. If you reside in London, I highly recommend paying the store a visit should you have the chance, and Forza fans should most certainly get inside of that modified McLaren Senna for a quick lap around Silverstone.
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.