The Xbox One X touches down today in numerous regions. Here at GTPlanet, that meant taking Microsoft’s flagship racing game out for another drive on the new, more powerful system.
We’ll have a more detailed quasi-review of the X later in the week, but for now, we’ve broken down the five big changes we’ve noticed so far with Forza Motorsport 7.
True 4K Resolution and HDR
You must’ve saw this coming. The headline 4K figure has been tossed around regularly since the X was first announced (as the Scorpio) over a year ago. Out of the big racing titles on consoles this year, it stands as the only one capable of the full-fat 4K, 60 frames-per-second experience.
FM7 was already a pretty solid title visually (check out or original XB1 review here), but the power of the X straps a turbo onto the whole package. Level of detail (LOD) changes for cars in the distance are far less noticeable. Pop-up is almost non-existent — we noticed it a handful of times at the Nürburgring during our revisit. The weather effects are visually stunning, with headlights picking up the standing water on the track. It’s very eye-catching.
We don’t want to undersell the resolution, but in our eyes, HDR is even more of a game-changer. Just as it does over on GT Sport on the PS4 Pro, High Dynamic Range expands the color palette, giving FM7 a more realistic feel. The sun popping out from behind some clouds actually feels bright.
If you don’t have a 4K TV, you won’t miss out on some of these perks. Admittedly, there aren’t many 1080P HDR-compatible sets out there, so that’s off the menu. But in terms of resolution, FM7 utilizes supersampling to give you a crisper picture on a regular HD screen than what you would get running the game on the vanilla XB1. We’ve tried the game on both 1080P and 4K sets and it looks great on both.
Livery Painters, Rejoice
The livery editor remains a stand-out feature of the Forza franchise. Simply put, it’s one of the best in the industry. That said, it’s not seen any major updates since it first landed on this console generation four years ago.
The X brings one important upgrade: increased texture resolution. That was expected for all the stock liveries, but it also applies to user-created content. Where you would typically find pixelation in smaller logos (especially fonts), shapes are now crisp and clear, even when zoomed in via Photo Mode.
Given the huge, creative Forza community, this will be a welcome upgrade for those looking for realistic replicas, or the most detailed team designs.
More Gaming, Less Waiting
There’s no avoiding it: loading times in FM7 can be very lengthy. It’s most noticeable in Free Play, especially the first time you enter, since the game can’t start the loading process right away. Having the menus accessible during loading is great — if you need to do anything in them. If you’ve already sorted out all your options, there’s nothing to do but wait.
On the X, you’ll be doing less of that. From a cold start in Free Play, heading into a 24-car grid rainy race at Suzuka, we noticed the loading time dropped from just over a full minute (!) to roughly 45 seconds. A 25% improvement is pretty noteworthy considering all the extra high-res data the game has to load.
Taking part in career mode series, where the track can start loading as you’re receiving your previous race spoils, the improvements are even more noticeable.
Photo Mode Up-Res’d
As you’d expect, Forza 7’s Photo Mode benefits from the increased power under the hood of the One X too. All of those high-res textures and the improved lighting translates to more realistic snaps.
Every Photo Mode image you share is made available on the official website, and previously, that meant 1080P shots. With the game running 4K assets, all Photo Mode shots now show up on FM.net in that same resolution — and that’s regardless of the screen you’re playing on.
Okay, the resolution bump doesn’t offer the fool-you-friends realism of GT Sport’s Scapes photographs, but for budding Forzatographers, every pixel helps.
The World of Sound
Okay, we’re cheating a bit here: the sound upgrades aren’t strictly X-exclusive. But the Dolby Atmos spatial audio deserves a mention here. Strapping on a set of compatible headphones, we were blown away by the depth of the aural experience.
Driving a Porsche Cayman around Silverstone, you get the distinct sensation that the car’s angry engine note is coming from just over your shoulder. Get a little aggressive with the curbing and the suspension will protest as it crashes back down.
The best part is being engulfed by the noises of the starting grid, as you can pick out the different engines of your competitors.
The Atmos upgrade offers a thorough improvement to the soundscape of FM7. It’s available on all Xbox Ones, too.