At a time when Microsoft needs exclusives more than ever, the last thing they wanted was to have an easy win turn into a complete loss. Sadly, coming off of one of the best entries in the series in Forza Horizon 3, we have what could arguably be one of the worst entries in Forza Motorsport 7.

On the basic level of gameplay, Forza has changed little, and it didn’t need to. You race your way through various smaller tournaments in your bid to win every trophy in sight, eventually making your way to the bigger and tougher events. Each tournament consists of a selection of events that ask you to take a car from a specific selection, keeping the game varied as you proceed. One event may have you racing classic rally cars, whereas the next can have you in a supercar. Alongside these multi-race events are special showcase events that have you in a single race using a particular vehicle, ranging from a tricked out rally car to… a limousine. It can be somewhat weird at times, but it’s still a good way of keeping things interesting. The driving itself is still as sublime as the previous entry, and sets the groundwork for another great Forza game… if it wasn’t derailed by other parts of the game.

But I’ll get back to that.

A quick word on the graphics; this game is touted as 4K ready in anticipation of the Xbox One X, and while I lack a 4K TV to test this, the game is certainly nice to look at. One of the new features in this game is the introduction of dynamic weather, meaning that just because it’s sunny at the start of the race doesn’t mean it will be for the entire run. Skies darken, clouds loom overhead and suddenly, it’s a downpour. Suddenly you have to watch your turns, unless you want to be going sideways into the nearest barrier. And it isn’t just rain either. The time of day can change, as evening can turn to night, forcing you to fight for the victory in the darkness. I personally feel that this is a little bit too much of a gimmick at this point, as a few races in the career mode clearly stage particular weather conditions mid-race. Still, it’s great to look at, if nothing else.

Now, we must get to the game’s system of rewarding the player, and its economy. Normally, this is not a point worth discussing about in Forza. Previous games (especially the last two, 6 and Horizons 3) certainly had no issue with this. But sadly, even Forza can’t escape the big taboo running through AAA gaming right now. There’s no getting around this: the loot crates are absolute garbage, and actively make this game worse. In Forza 6, there were microtransactions available to buy cars with, but they weren’t very intrusive. You could get mod packs that would affect the race like you do here, but that was on top of the driver assists giving you more (or less) money depending on your settings. Because I was pretty good at the game, I had the driver assists giving me a constant +100% bonus (without mods) on every race I took part in, and the game was already lavishing me with money even without the VIP bonus (I did not purchase the VIP Pass for Forza 6) But that’s the key difference; Forza 6 WANTS you to have fun, to be swimming in money, to go buy the dream car you’ve always wanted, and to feel great doing it.

Forza 7 doesn’t want any of that; it merely wants to get you bored of the grind. You make MUCH less money in this game. Driver Assists no longer affect your income, making it stupid to even turn them off. The Drivatar difficulty setting still offers you a bonus but it’s a pittance compared to what you could have made in time past. And where you used to get a chance at one of nine free cars with every level up in 6, now you get a preset car as an option, or you can take a pathetic amount of money… or a new driver skin. Oh, and the car is not always free, it’s usually just discounted. But that isn’t all. A new feature called the specialty dealer, sells exclusive cars that you can’t buy in the standard catalogue, but they have a time limit, and once they’re gone… that’s it. If that isn’t built to pressure those low on in-game credits to open their wallet, I don’t know what is.

Forza Motorsport 7 leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I have had a lot of fond memories in this series, including some personal ones. This feels like I’m being kicked in the teeth for all of my dedication to the series. At its base, Forza 7 has what it need to be another good entry in the series… but unfortunately, the rest of it is rotten.

+++ Great core series gameplay
++ Good graphics
- Dynamic weather feels like a gimmick
-- Misleading VIP Pass
--- Features from Forza 6 (such as race bonuses) now locked behind Loot Crates