Forza Motorsport 7 was released in 2017 and is still the latest in the line of racing sims in the franchise. While it has proved to be a popular racing game, many wonder just how realistic Forza Motorsport is.
Forza Motorsport is somewhat realistic, but it is nowhere near the realism levels provided by games like rFactor 2 and iRacing. It does have very realistic graphics for the genre, and the cars and tracks feel about as realistic as you might expect from a simcade style racing game.
Below, we’ll take a look at some aspects of Forza Motorsport 7 in more detail, to see where it is realistic and where it falls short. We’ll draw some comparisons to other sim racing games too, so you can get an idea of some alternatives if realism is what you’re looking for in a sim racing game.
How Forza Motorsport Looks And Sounds
Forza Motorsport 7 definitely does well in the looks department from a realism perspective. Even without cranking things up to 4K, you get a real sense that you are really racing in the locations of the tracks. From the leaves on the trees to the sky and the hills in the distance, Forza Motorsport 7 really is a joy to play in terms of the visuals.
The cars look great too, but as with any modern racing game this is the least that we’d expect. Overall, it’s the all-round graphical capabilities of the game that make it stand out from some other titles in the genre.
How Does It Sound?
As for the audio, I personally found it to be a little lackluster at points. If you were to compare the audio directly to something like Forza Horizon 4, you’d think it was best in class. But once you’ve spent enough time driving the same cars, you do feel like there is maybe some depth lacking on the audio side of things, and this can hamper how realistic it feels.
So, in terms of visuals and audio, Forza Motorsport 7 definitely isn’t the most realistic looking or sounding, but its impressive quality of visuals does set it apart from others at the simcade level.
The Cars And Tracks
The selection of cars to choose from in Forza Motorsport 7 is quite frankly incredible. To have more than 700 options to choose from is impressive, but this might throw up a red flag to those looking for realism. 700 cars don’t necessarily translate to 700 totally unique and realistic handling models.
While the developers have done a good job to make all of the cars feel at least slightly different from each other, you will notice some overlap between cars in the same class. This is common in most racing games that try to offer you lots to choose from in any department, but it does make it difficult to say that all of the cars feel realistic to drive.
Of course, it’s hard to say that any car in a racing game feels realistic to drive unless you can compare it to what it’s like to drive in real life. While some will have been lucky enough to drive a few Ferraris and Lamborghinis in their lives, most of us haven’t had the chance. So, the feeling of realism becomes a bit less of an exact science.
It’s Decent Enough
Still, Forza Motorsport 7’s handling models for the different cars in the game do feel decent enough, and whether they fall under realistic depends on your own expectations and experience. However, we’ll talk more about how they feel to drive in terms of the actual physics in the next section.
As for the tracks, there are just over 30 on offer, and they come with their own variations as well. In terms of realism, they’re about as good as you might expect from this type of sim racing game. While there isn’t the same level of dynamicity that you get from Project Cars 2’s LiveTrack 3.0, you do still feel a reasonable amount of the undulations and finer details of each track.
The Driving Physics
The most important aspect for many sim racers when it comes to realism is the actual driving experience, and in particular the physics and how the cars interact with the environment. While Forza Motorsport 7 definitely isn’t an arcade racer, it isn’t really a true racing simulator either. Instead, it finds itself sitting in the simcade camp.
This doesn’t mean you won’t feel any realism from the driving physics, but it just means it’s not up there with the likes of iRacing. But that’s to be expected from a game with more than 700 cars and a focus on keeping things fun, versus iRacing’s smaller, more detailed car selection, subscription payment model and incredibly realistic driving experience.
Still Fairly Realistic
But the physics in Forza Motorsport 7 do still feel realistic enough for those looking for a casual to intermediate sim racing experience. You do feel the car reacting in the ways you expect it to when you push the limits of traction, and the same goes for when there’s dynamic weather involved.
You will find yourself wrestling with the steering wheel if you drive off-line in the rain, and if you take a corner too fast or with a little too much curb, you’ll pay the price for it. Cornering doesn’t feel arcade-like at all, and you really do need to manage the brake, throttle and steering in a way that emulates close to the way some of the more premium sim racing games feel in that respect.
Without the assists on you will see a more drastic change in the driving style required than in some other games. While it’s definitely harder to master without the assists on, that doesn’t automatically make it more realistic. As many race cars do come with stock assists, turning these off can actually make it less realistic, in specific circumstances.
That brings us onto the amount of customization you have at your fingertips, as this can help make things more or less realistic. You can of course change things like steering linearity and dead zones for your pedals, but you also have a lot to choose from with regard to the car setup. From damper controls to torque scales, there are various ways to adjust the driving experience to your liking.
But overall, with some decent force feedback, realistic visual quality and an all-round good driving experience, Forza Motorsport 7 is definitely a brilliant choice for gamers looking for a realistic sim racer. However, there are alternatives out there for specific playstyles, with some offering more realism in a particular aspect of the racing experience. Let’s take a look at some of them now.
5 Alternatives To Forza Motorsport
1. GT Sport
The first and most obvious alternative to Forza Motorsport 7 is its PlayStation rival Gran Turismo Sport. While only accessible to those with a PlayStation, if you have both consoles and are stuck between the two franchises, GT Sport offers a lot of what Forza offers, and improves upon many aspects too. Check out our full review of that game here.
2. F1 2020
If you’re looking for realism in a specific racing discipline, then there are definitely some alternatives to Forza Motorsport 7. If you’re a fan of Formula One then the F1 series, notably F1 2020, is your best bet for all-round realism in the realm of open wheel racing. From the track dynamics to the driving physics of the world’s fastest cars, it’s the best option out there.
3. Dirt Rally 2.0
However, if you’re a rally fan then you’ll want to go for Dirt Rally 2.0 instead. While Forza Motorsport 7 does offer a few open wheel racing cars that don’t come close to the experience F1 2020 offers, there are no tracks where you can put the rally cars – like the Audi Quattro – through their paces. For that kind of off-road realism, Dirt Rally 2.0 is your best bet.
4. Project Cars 2
However, if you want all round realism while still enjoying the progression offered by games, like Forza Motorsport 7’s story/career mode, then Project Cars 2 is a brilliant choice. With some of the most realistic driving physics and track dynamics outside of iRacing and rFactor, PC2 also offers a brilliant career mode among other excellent game modes.
5. iRacing/rFactor 2
But if realistic racing is your number one priority, you need to go with iRacing or rFactor 2. These two are designed with pure simulation in mind, from the handling models to the track details. These simulators are both used by real racing drivers, and that’s because they provide the most realistic racing experience available to gamers. Which one you choose is really down to personal preference.
Forza Motorsport 7 is fairly realistic, but there are some areas in which it fails to achieve true realism. With a reasonable overall look and feel, and relatively realistic driving physics, it’s a game that does well to cater to the broad sim racing market. However, there are more realistic discipline-specific options out there, and nothing tops iRacing and rFactor 2 in terms of pure realism.