Once upon a time, you could expect a new Forza Motorsport like clockwork, every two years. But Turn 10's sim racer has been on a hiatus of sorts since Forza Motorsport 7 released in 2017. At Microsoft's Xbox Series X game showcase event on July 23, 2020, we finally got a sneak peek at Forza Motorsport 8.
Or, so we thought. The next entry in the franchise loses the number — it's just Forza Motorsport now. And in losing the number, we're looking forward to a reboot and fresh start for the long-running series, which has been a victim of diminishing returns and only small, iterative improvements over the years, partially as a consequence of that every-other-year cadence.
So far, we've only got a minute-long teaser trailer to go on for the new Forza Motorsport. Nevertheless, we've picked it apart and done the research to compile everything we know about Microsoft's next sim racer.
Forza Motorsport 8 trailer
You can check out the debut Forza Motorsport trailer right here:
Forza Motorsport 8 gameplay and features
Based on the glimpse we got in the initial trailer, the new Forza Motorsport looks like it'll be the first game in the franchise to actually focus on, well, motorsport. In a video (opens in new tab) released shortly after the conclusion of Microsoft's July 23 event, Esaki calls the new Forza Motorsport "a re-imagining of the franchise."
The clip is flush with scenes of race cars half apart in garages, crew members and drivers scurrying about, walls of screens monitoring on track activity and, interestingly, many fake sponsors and logos.
That last part might sound inconsequential, but it could be a giveaway as to what Turn 10 is looking to introduce in its next project. Racing fans will note that new for this year, F1 2020 added an experience called My Team, which functions partly like the season campaign of old, but also features some fresh team management mechanics to deepen the off-track activity.
Evocative of what we witnessed in the Forza trailer, F1 2020 consists of many fake sponsors, which you sign to earn your team some cash — though, of course, you have to meet their objectives to get paid. There's also an extensive branding suite in Codemasters' latest F1 title, and, sure enough, branding could play a role in Forza's next act as well, given the green and black motif of the fictional club depicted in the trailer.
It's a reach of course, and Turn 10 hasn't shed light on any of this, but we're wondering if the Forza Motorsport reboot will expand upon team management to complement the on-track gameplay. Imagine being at the helm of your own racing team where you have control of the operation from top to bottom. It would certainly explain the seismic shift in focus that Esaki was teasing late last year.
But what about the simulation itself? Well, Esaki also briefly touched upon enhancements to Turn 10's Forzatech physics engine all those months ago, rattling off a list of areas in which the development team has aimed to improve handling and car behavior for the next game. There'll be a redesigned tire model and tire pressure model, and heat and atmospheric pressure will now have an effect on both how your rubber meets the road as well as engine power. The track surface will now get "rubbered in" as cars repeatedly beat on the asphalt every lap, dynamically altering grip levels, corner by corner, over the course of a race. Suspension modelling has also been altered as well.
Considering all of that, the next Forza Motorsport sounds like a reboot in the most earnest sense, both on and off the track. The studio says we can expect further details on what to expect from the new title as 2020 rolls on.
Forza Motorsport 8 performance
We don't know a whole lot about how Forza Motorsport will look in action yet. The trailer was created in-engine, according to Turn 10, and the game will run at native 4K resolution and 60 frames per second on Xbox Series X. Ray tracing also looks to be visible across many scenes in the trailer, particularly when the reflection of a surrounding garage is visible off a helmet's visor.
At this stage, however, that's really all we know. There are certainly some impressive visuals shown in the trailer, like a painstakingly-detailed engine bay of a Mazda Lola B12/80 prototype, and the reflection of a crew member off the side of an Apollo Intensa Emozione race car. Likewise, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca appears in this trailer, and looks stunning, with dust, smoke and dirt flying about the track surface and rays of light breaking through the trees that line the iconic Corkscrew.
Forza Motorsport 8 outlook
With only a minute-long trailer to tide us over until Turn 10 is willing to share more, that's about all we know surrounding the next Forza Motorsport. It certainly looks to bring about a change in direction for the franchise, with the name certainly providing the most obvious clue. Still, we have many more questions.
We wonder how much of the car-PG progression system from Forza games of old will translate to the new entry. We're also curious as to what advancements the team has made in respect to car customization, tuning and aftermarket upgrades. Forza Motorsport once defined customization in the racing genre, but that aspect of the experience has languished with installment after installment. And what of hotly-requested features like dynamic time and weather?
Indeed, all of those questions await answers, especially because some have theorized that the name change might accompany a shift to a long-term service model for the series. Nevertheless, if you've been wondering where Forza Motorsport could go since the seventh title was received lukewarmly by fans and critics, it at least appears that Turn 10 won't be resting on its laurels this go around. We can't wait to learn more.