Forza Motorsport 2023 Game Review – Where Realism Meets Racing Excellence

Seated behind the wheel of my 2017 Holden V8 Supercar, I find myself surrounded by the likes of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Audi R8s. It’s a moment that leaves me feeling a tad out of my league. Forza Motorsport’s online multiplayer spec racing should, in theory, level the playing field for these diverse cars, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve shown up with a cricket bat to a sword fight. 

Forza Motorsport 2023 Game Review
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After several laps that don’t exactly set the world on fire, neither I nor my trusty Vegemite-loving VF Commodore manage to make a significant impact on the leaderboards. I end up finishing mid-pack, just one spot below where I began. Yet, despite the so-so performance, I’m drenched in sweat, and there’s an ear-to-ear grin on my face.

The 2023 iteration of Forza Motorsport introduces a wealth of new features, from its robust multiplayer component to significantly improved handling.

A New Level of Handling Excellence in Forza Motorsport

Forza Motorsport has reached new heights in the realm of driving sensation, surpassing all previous entries in the Motorsport franchise. While it doesn’t entirely reinvent the Forza formula, it retains that trademark level of user-friendly handling that gives players the confidence to assert control over their cars, even when teetering at the edge of control. This series has always excelled in empowering players to command a car, inducing oversteer with a heavy foot on the throttle without spiraling into constant over-rotation, and this core experience remains intact.

However, the enhancements leading up to the point where traction breaks are striking. If the prior installment, Forza Motorsport 7, suffered from any noticeable handling flaws, it was the somewhat subdued sensation of grip. Fast forward six years, and this follow-up banishes that issue entirely. The grip sensation in Forza Motorsport is not only more pronounced but also profoundly authentic. Cars now feel more genuinely connected to the road, eliminating the vague sense of grip that existed in the past. Exceed the limits of your tires, and grip doesn’t abruptly vanish; instead, it gradually diminishes. This results in cars exhibiting more controlled squirm and less unpredictable skidding—an undeniable and commendable improvement.

Forza Motorsport’s Improved Tire Modeling

The remarkable improvements in Forza Motorsport’s tire modeling not only enhance the accuracy of the racing experience but also make it feel easier to drive fast. It’s important to note that ‘easy’ isn’t a pejorative term in the context of racing games, and in fact, it’s a concept highly valued by many players. While reaching the level of precision and speed achieved by professional racers is undeniably challenging, hustling around a track with confidence, knowing that the car will respond predictably, is well within the capabilities of a competent driver.

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The conventional sim racing mentality that believes if it’s not difficult, it’s not realistic has been gradually evolving, and Forza Motorsport follows this trend. The game is easier to handle because it’s more authentic, reflecting the shift away from the belief that difficulty is synonymous with realism.

For players using a gamepad, the handling remains exceptionally refined. The team at Turn 10 has adeptly balanced the handling characteristics, making necessary adjustments to accommodate factors like rapid weight transfer and steering inputs while preserving the ability to manage the game with a small analog stick. This combination allows players to maintain control, offering a consistent and enjoyable experience.

An Evolving Experience

When playing Forza Motorsport with a wheel, my experience is primarily based on the Thrustmaster TS-XW Racer, and it’s worth noting that it initially leans heavily towards a weighty feel right out of the box. In fact, it may come across as surprisingly heavy, evoking memories of driving a car with a failed alternator that rendered the power steering inoperative. Nevertheless, the game offers extensive customization options, allowing players to fine-tune the wheel to their preference.

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After some adjustments, I found that Forza Motorsport provides what I consider the best wheel feel in the series. While there might be a slight lack of feedback when encountering severe curbs, the overall responsiveness and stability are superb. Notably, the game excels at conveying the sensation of a car’s weight, especially on intricate and undulating track sections like navigating the corkscrew at Laguna Seca after cresting a rise.


Wheel users will appreciate a few small but welcome enhancements. For those who prefer the in-cabin view with the wheel visible, the steering animation is no longer restricted to a 90-degree range in either direction; it now rotates up to 360 degrees, enhancing realism. Additionally, car-specific force feedback and steering lock settings are available in the tuning menus, simplifying the process of maintaining the right feel for various vehicles without the need for frequent global adjustments.

Tuning and Customization

Forza Motorsport offers a mix of good news and some limitations when it comes to tuning and customization. One positive aspect is the introduction of new suspension settings and the ability to add ballast. Adding ballast increases a car’s weight and slightly reduces its overall performance index. However, it’s automatically distributed throughout the car to achieve a balanced 50/50 weight distribution. While it’s not immediately clear how adding ballast will impact competitive car builds, it’s an intriguing strategy to experiment with, particularly on specific tracks.

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However, the positive news in tuning and customization is somewhat limited when it comes to upgrades. Unlike previous titles like Forza Motorsport 7 or Forza Horizon 5, upgrades are no longer readily available for any car by default. Instead, upgrades are gradually unlocked for each car as you accumulate seat time and earn experience specific to that vehicle. Moreover, upgrades are no longer purchased with in-game credits; they now consume a set amount of ‘Car Points’ allocated to each car. The number of Car Points is determined by each car’s individual level, with a maximum cap of 50. While upgrades are consistently unlocked in the same order, it takes several hours of driving to access options like engine swaps (at level 40), body kits (at level 45), and drivetrain swaps (at level 50).

Forza Motorsport’s New Upgrade System with Pros and Cons

Forza Motorsport’s latest upgrade system introduces an overtly RPG-style approach, intending to foster deeper connections with a more limited selection of cars that hold personal meaning for players. While this approach is designed to create more meaningful interactions, the practical implementation has its drawbacks.

The new system aims to distance itself from the luck-based upgrade systems found in arcade racers like The Crew series or Need for Speed Payback. Players maintain control over the parts they choose to purchase and fit onto their cars. At car level 50 with the full range of parts accessible, the upgrade system resembles what veteran players are accustomed to. However, the journey to reach that point can feel like an unexpected treadmill, even for duplicate cars of the same model.


The philosophy of built, not bought in Forza Motorsport is commendable, but the gamified aspect of the upgrade system might not resonate with all players. While the Car Point system, which resembles time investment, is reasonable, the strict gating of upgrades in a predetermined order, including straightforward ones, can be frustrating. Players may question the need for a specific car level before being allowed to remove a spare tire for weight reduction, for instance. 

This approach dilutes the previous freedom players had to focus on the upgrades they believed would have the most significant impact on a car’s performance from the beginning. Additionally, meticulously measuring fuel loads by the milliliter to shave off a few thousandths of a second from lap times can seem somewhat counterintuitive when still carrying a spare tire in the vehicle’s trunk.

Forza Motorsport’s Career Mode and Event Customization

In the latest installment of Forza Motorsport, the career mode offers a diverse range of racing events organized into thematic tiers. These events are typically categorized by car class, a standard feature for racing simulations. Each tier includes mandatory practice sessions before races, which can extend the overall duration of each tour. This extended progression system ensures that players have plenty to engage with throughout the game.

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One notable feature is the ability to select your starting position on the grid before each race, replacing the traditional qualifying sessions. This innovative approach allows players to tailor their racing experience. For example, you can opt for an old-school, Gran Turismo-style challenge, where you start at the back of the pack and aim to overtake your opponents quickly. Alternatively, you can select a faster AI and engage in intense dogfights for a single spot. This flexibility in grid selection adds depth to the single-player racing experience and offers diverse challenges based on player preferences.

While the career mode in Forza Motorsport provides an extensive single-player experience, it’s worth noting that the event intros can feel overly formal and somewhat rigid compared to the more relaxed automotive culture content found on streaming platforms or YouTube. Additionally, there are some car categories that receive less emphasis in the career mode. However, it’s expected that the career mode will expand as Forza Motorsport continues to evolve.


For those who prefer more control over their racing experience, the free play mode is still available, allowing players to participate in quick races with a selection from the game’s 500 cars. However, some players have expressed a desire for more straightforward options to customize the AI’s vehicle choices. While there are numerous parameters available for editing the opponent’s cars, it can be challenging to select the specific rival cars you want. Improving this aspect of customization could further enhance the player’s experience, making it more reminiscent of Forza Motorsport 4, which allowed players to choose the AI’s vehicles more freely.

Forza Motorsport’s Car Roster – A Trimmed Selection with No Pay-to-Win Shortcut

Forza Motorsport’s car roster, featuring 500 vehicles, might appear slimmer compared to the vast selections in Forza Motorsport 7 and Forza Horizon 5, both of which boast over 700 cars each. While some might raise concerns about this reduction, it’s important to consider the methodology.

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One noticeable change is the pruning of offroaders, which resulted in the omission of beloved vehicles like the GMC Syclone and the HSV Maloo. Additionally, the absence of Lancia, despite its recent return to Forza Horizon 5, could raise questions. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Forza Motorsport reaches its 500-car figure without employing the practice of double, triple, or even quadruple counting the same models due to different paint jobs. This approach ensures a diverse and enviable roster of cars that resonate with the distinctive sounds of their engines.

One key distinction sets Forza Motorsport apart – there’s no shortcut to acquire cars with exorbitant real-world money, a practice that some of its competitors have adopted. This eliminates the pay-to-win aspect and keeps the focus on the driving experience.

Forza Motorsport’s Visual Splendor and Game Modes

Forza Motorsport’s visuals are a treat, particularly in motion. Playing in Performance RT mode on the Xbox Series X, I experienced ray-traced reflections that add depth and realism to the glossy surfaces of cars. This mode operates at a slightly reduced resolution but maintains a silky smooth 60fps frame rate. While I played in the chase cam perspective, those who prefer 4K resolution can opt for Performance mode, which disables ray-tracing during races while still running at 60fps. A third mode offers more extensive ray-tracing on environmental objects but drops the frame rate to 30fps.

Comparing visuals, it’s noted that personal preference comes into play, and Forza Motorsport may not entirely surpass GT7 in this regard. However, it undeniably delivers stunning visuals, especially in conditions like midnight driving in heavy rain.

The game boasts 20 track locations, each equipped with dynamic time-of-day and variable weather support. These tracks have been meticulously detailed, featuring 3D crowds and an abundance of trackside objects and fixtures. While the current track selection is more limited than Forza Motorsport 7’s 30+ locations, additional tracks will be introduced in future updates, with Yas Marina returning next month, an unannounced track in December, and the iconic Nurburgring Nordschleife expected by spring 2024. However, the notable absence of Bathurst is a regrettable omission at this time.

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Missing Split Screen but Robust Online Multiplayer

Forza Motorsport disappointingly lacks a two-player split screen mode, a feature many gamers, especially those with families, fondly remember. Split-screen racing allowed for creative and fun handicapped races, like giving ancient hatchbacks a head start and trying to chase them down with hypercars. This omission may be due to the niche nature of split screen gaming in 2023, possibly coupled with performance constraints on the Series S. However, it’s a letdown when modern gaming seems to take a step backward, considering that even the 1997 classic Gran Turismo featured splitscreen.

On the flip side, Forza Motorsport significantly enhances its online multiplayer component. The game introduces scheduled racing events that follow a race weekend format, complete with practice sessions, three-lap qualifying rounds, and the main race. You can engage in spec racing, where all cars are automatically tuned identically for fair competition, or open racing where you use your own custom-tuned vehicles. Multiplayer experiences have been robust and reliable, even when racing against developers and other press on the other side of the world.

The game’s safety rating system aims to keep clean racers away from those who engage in foul play, and improved penalties have been implemented for better discipline. Although it’s hard to predict how well this will work after launch, early impressions suggest an environment of civil and clean races.

One notable addition in the multiplayer is the ability to skip to the end of a lap during pre-race sessions. If you make a mistake in a corner, the Skip Lap option allows you to respawn further ahead, saving valuable time and maintaining the racing action.


Forza Motorsport makes a triumphant return after a six-year hiatus, offering an impressive experience that includes stellar visuals, realistic handling, superb audio, and a strong multiplayer component. With a lineup of 500 cars and 20 track locations, it’s a substantial start. Positioned as a platform, Forza Motorsport has the potential to evolve into a rich and enduring racing destination in the years to come, akin to Flight Simulator but on four wheels. However, there are areas that could use improvement, particularly the new RPG-inspired upgrade system that hampers progression by requiring substantial time investments for each individual car. Additionally, many players miss the classic split-screen multiplayer mode, which is currently absent from the game but would be a welcome addition alongside the excellent online modes.


Q1: What is Forza Motorsport 2023, and what makes it different from previous Forza games?

A1: Forza Motorsport 2023 is the latest installment in the Forza Motorsport franchise. It introduces significant improvements in handling, visuals, and multiplayer options. Notable changes include enhanced tire modeling, a refined upgrade system, and an emphasis on authenticity in handling.

Q2: How does the handling in Forza Motorsport 2023 differ from previous games in the series?

A2: Forza Motorsport 2023 offers a more authentic and pronounced handling experience. It retains the user-friendly controls but eliminates the vague sense of grip that existed in previous titles. Cars now feel more connected to the road, resulting in more controlled handling, making it easier to drive fast while maintaining authenticity.

Q3: Is Forza Motorsport 2023 better suited for wheel or gamepad users?

A3: The game is well-balanced for both wheel and gamepad users. Wheel users can fine-tune their experience to achieve the best feel for their preferences. Gamepad users will find the handling to be exceptionally refined, allowing for an enjoyable experience.

Q4: How does the new upgrade system in Forza Motorsport 2023 work, and what are the pros and cons?

A4: The new upgrade system is designed to create a more meaningful connection with your cars. It follows an RPG-inspired approach where upgrades are unlocked and must be purchased using Car Points specific to each vehicle. While this approach has merits, it can be frustrating, as some upgrades are gated and require a considerable time investment to unlock. Players have mixed feelings about this system.

Q5: What are the strengths and weaknesses of Forza Motorsport 2023’s career mode and event customization?

A5: The career mode offers a wide range of racing events, and players can choose their starting grid position, adding depth to the single-player experience. However, some players find the event intros to be formal and rigid. There is also room for improvement in terms of customizing AI vehicle choices.

Q6: How does the car roster in Forza Motorsport 2023 compare to previous games, and is there any pay-to-win element?

A6: The car roster features 500 vehicles, which may seem smaller compared to previous titles, but it includes a diverse selection without double-counting the same models. Importantly, there is no pay-to-win shortcut in the game, ensuring a fair playing field.

Q7: Does Forza Motorsport 2023 offer split-screen multiplayer?

A7: Unfortunately, Forza Motorsport 2023 lacks a two-player split-screen mode, which might disappoint some players who enjoyed this feature in previous games. However, the game does feature a robust online multiplayer component.

Q8: What are the performance modes available for Forza Motorsport 2023, and how do they affect the game’s visuals and frame rate?

A8: The game offers three performance modes: Performance RT, Performance, and Quality. Performance RT provides ray-traced reflections and runs at 60fps. Performance mode offers 4K resolution at 60fps without ray-tracing. Quality mode delivers extensive ray-tracing but drops the frame rate to 30fps.

Q9: Are there plans to expand the track selection in Forza Motorsport 2023?

A9: Yes, additional tracks will be introduced through future updates. The game currently features 20 track locations, and more tracks, including Yas Marina and Nurburgring Nordschleife, are expected to be added.

Q10: What is the overall verdict for Forza Motorsport 2023?

A10: Forza Motorsport 2023 offers a stellar experience with impressive visuals, realistic handling, superb audio, and a strong multiplayer component. It has a substantial car roster and track selection. However, there are areas that need improvement, such as the new upgrade system and the absence of split-screen multiplayer. The game has the potential to evolve into a long-lasting racing destination.

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