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Forza 2016 Year in Review

Brian Ekberg
Friday, December 23, 2016

The year is nearly over, which means it’s a fine time to look back on what must be considered the busiest and best year in Forza history. In this special look back at 2016, we’ll relive some of the highlights from the past 12 months. From Forza’s PC debut to the launch of Forza Horizon 3 and the start of our very own eSports competition series, there’s a lot to get to. So let’s go!

 

JANUARY

If you think of the first car pack of the year as a harbinger of what’s to come, then 2016 was destined for greatness with the release of the Polo Red Car Pack for Forza Motorsport 6. Anchored by the Middle Eastern hypercar noted for its film appearances (as in Furious 7) as much for its beastly performance – alongside amazing racers like the 2015 Mazda Formula Mazda and the 2015 Nissan #1 NISMO MOTUL AUTECH GT-R – this was a pack with serious speed in mind. 

 

 

But here’s the thing, January didn’t just see one car pack. There were, in fact, two – the Alpinestars Car Pack was also released in late January, timed to launch just ahead of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, and starring a couple of standouts: the 2015 Ford #02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley Mk XXVI Daytona Prototype (aka the 2015 Daytona winner), and the 2005 Pontiac Aztek (aka Walter White’s ride). Needless to say, both of these cars caused a stir in the Forza community.

 

As if January wasn’t packed enough with cars to add to your Forza 6 garage, we brought back something that hadn’t been seen since the original Forza Horizon – exclusive bonus cars! The first of these bonus cars (known around the Forza community as “unicorns”) was the 1972 Ferrari #2 Ferrari Automobili 312 P, and players could get the car by taking part in a special League. Over the course of three weeks, players battled it out in their bid to finish in the top half of each weekly League and to collect their sweet Ferrari race car prize.

 

FEBRUARY

This year was a leap year, giving us an extra day in February; that was a good thing, considering how much Forza news we dropped. Though we announced our “February” car pack in January with the Alpinestars Car Pack, the real news of the month wouldn’t drop until the end, with the official announcement of the Porsche Expansion for Forza Motorsport 6.

 

But before we got there, we welcomed another return to Forza – the Community Bounty. Our first Bounty of 2016 was our own Elliott Lyons (aka RBW Triton) who took the Forza community on a month-long chase through a Rivals leaderboard while driving the Rolls-Royce Wraith. The prize for everyone who beat him? The 1977 Aston Martin Vantage, a brand new exclusive bonus car that turned out to be a massive hit with the community, and is still a sought-after car today in Forza 6.

 

The February Forza Motorsport 6 VIP car by Little Vixen

 

The Community Bounty lasted throughout February, with Elliott progressively bettering his time over the course of the month, and the community responding in kind. In the end, hundreds of people managed to beat his time (along with 100 lucky random winners) and added the V8 Vantage to their Forza garages. And as fun as the Bounty was, it was just the start of competitive gaming  in 2016…

 

MARCH

Over the years, March has become a bigger and bigger month for Forza. In 2015, March saw the release of The Fast & Furious standalone expansion for Forza Horizon 2 and, in 2016, we had our busiest March in Forza history, at least in terms of sheer number of announcements. Leading the way was the Porsche Expansion for Forza Motorsport 6, which added 20 Porsche models to the game, Virginia International Raceway, and a brand new curated career experience that’s unlike anything else Forza has ever created.

 

 

While Porsche might have been expected by long-time fans, March also saw a new game that few people saw coming: Forza Motorsport 6: Apex. With Apex, the Forza Motorsport franchise was finally coming to PCs – Windows 10 PCs, to be precise.

 

 

Add to all of this news the mid-month release of the Meguiar’s Car Pack featuring the Ferrari 488 GTB and you’ve more than enough news for a month of Forza. But we weren’t done yet!

 

March was also a big month for Lamborghini in the world of Forza. In addition to announcing that the Lamborghini Centenario (which made its debut at the Geneva Auto Show) would be the cover car for the game that would become Forza Horizon 3, we also announced the next evolution of online competition in Forza Motorsport 6 – Lamborghini Super Trofeo. Split across two three-week seasons and starring some of Lamborghini’s best race cars, the Super Trofeo series gave Forza players the chance to compete for a host of custom-liveried Lambos across a series of Rivals and League events throughout March and April. The prize was an exclusive bonus car – the 2015 Lamborghini #63 Squadra Corse Huracán LP620-2 Super Trofeo. Turnout was fantastic and the Super Trofeo program turned out to be blueprint of sorts.

 

As if all this wasn’t enough, March saw us turn up the heat with a couple of eSports tournaments by MLG and our friends at Formula and ESL. The Formula E Race Off Pro Series pitted the best racers in the Forza Motorsport 6 community against one another in Formula E cars, with online races coinciding with each weekend on the Formula E calendar. In addition to a series starring Forza’s fastest drivers, Formula E also hosted the latest edition of its series of head-to-head matchups between real-life Formula E drivers; including Jerome d’Ambrosio and Sam Bird taking on each other and a bunch of Forza drivers for online bragging rights.

 

Finally, one of the Forza community’s own hit the Internet jackpot with one of the biggest viral videos of the year. Don Joewon Song’s now infamous “Presidential Drift” caught fire in March, racking well over 100 million views on Facebook, YouTube, and elsewhere, unquestionably making it the most viewed Forza video in history. As we move away from March, take one more chance to relive the glory:

 

 

APRIL

The Top Gear Car Pack for Forza Motorsport 6 dropped during the first full week of April, and immediately made everyone’s life better. While I don’t have empirical evidence to back up that statement, I will say it certainly made my time with Forza 6 more fun. With amazing cars like the Ferrari FXX K and the Jaguar Project 7, this was a pack that Forza worked very closely on with the Top Gear editors themselves. As we said back in April, if a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is arguably the third best car in a pack, you know you’ve got something special.

 

 

One car superseded all of the Top Gear hotness, however. Mid-month, the Chryslus Rocket ’69 from Fallout 4 came to be in Forza Motorsport 6, delivering on a long-standing promise that Forza had made around the launch of Bethesda’s RPG masterpiece. Sure it took a while, but the results were worth waiting for. With its silent-but-deadly “nuclear-powered” engine and a top speed that can best be described as “ludicrous”, the Rocket was a free add-on car for Fallout fans to enjoy in Forza Motorsport 6.

 

 

With April complete, the Forza team entered May with a familiar mix of excitement and trepidation. After all, E3 2016, was just several weeks away…

 

MAY

In May, the Forza series took a turn that had been a long time in the making. With the launch of the beta for Forza Motorport 6: Apex, Forza was finally available for play on PC. This was the first time players could experience on Windows 10 as well as the first time players across the world could see the game running in astonishing 4K resolution.

 

May also saw the launch of some big additions to the world of Forza Motorsport 6. First up was the launch of the Hot Wheels Car Pack for Forza Motorsport 6. This pack features some fantastic cars like the legendary Hot Wheels Boneshaker, and also inspired a classic trailer that still makes us smile:

 

 

Between Apex and Hot Wheels, May was already looking like a huge month but, once again, we weren’t done yet. In late May we brought the world the NASCAR Expansion for Forza Motorsport 6. Featuring 24 authentic cars from the 2016 NASCAR season, plus a brand new track in Homestead-Miami Speedway, as well as new features like a proximity meter and new Quick Stop feature, this was fans’ chance to experience NASCAR as seen through the lens of Forza Motorsport 6.

 

 

 

JUNE

Normally, June is dominated by E3 in the Forza world. It makes sense; that’s when the latest Forza game is typically shown off for the first time, and where most of the attention for Forza fans is pointed. While this year’s E3 was certainly dominated by Forza Horizon 3, we had news even before the curtain was raised on FH3 in the form of the Forza Racing Championship. The inaugural season of the #ForzaRC was announced ahead of E3 and Le Mans, alongside a gift for Forza 6 players in the form of the 2016 #66 Ford GT Le Mans race car which was gifted out to celebrate Ford’s historic return to the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

 

For racing fans worlwide, Forza Horizon 3 was the star of June and for good reason! After all, who could forget the game’s epic stage show debut during the Xbox E3 Briefing:

 

 

And of course it wouldn’t be an Xbox E3 without an amazing Forza booth on the show floor and 2016 didn’t disappoint with Forza Horizon 3. The team worked hard to create a fantastic FH3 demo, playable on truly sick hydraulic-enabled racing setup built by VRX. Add to that the eminently photo-friendly Lamborghini Centenario, which made its stateside debut at the show, and you’ve got the formula for the must-see booth at E3 2016.

 

Just after the closing of E3, we also enjoyed the largest weekend in Forza eSports history, all tied to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Forza and Michelin hosted our own event at the Petersen Museum, watching as teams of players raced for victory during a special livestream broadcast, while our friends at Audi hosted a marathon 24-hour event in San Francisco, which was won by Team Mythos after more than 3,000 virtual miles driven. Not to be outdone, the real Le Mans was host to the French Forza Championships, the culmination of a program that had been going for months and was ultimately won by TX3 Laige, BAM ASIX, and BAM SEVEN, who took home first, second, and third respectively. As it turned out, with the Forza Racing Championship just weeks away, fans would be hearing those names again.

 

 

JULY

July began with the finals of the Formula E Race Off Pro Series Championship, a virtual racing championship starring Forza racers driving Formula E cars. Nine of the fastest drivers in the Forza world (and one lucky wild card player) competed live in London, and the race was won by TX3 Laige, once again establishing him as the man to beat when it came to Forza esports competitions.

 

Mid-month saw the release of the Turn 10 Select Car Pack for Forza Motorsport 6, a pack that has to sit among the quirkiest (and best received) packs in Forza DLC history. In addition to expected additions like the McLaren 570S Coupé, this pack also features some wonderful automotive “deep cuts” like the 1969 Ford Brawner Hawk III, as well as the 1957 BMW Isetta 300 Export (aka Steve Urkel’s car) and the 2015 Mercedes-Benz #24 Tankpool24 Racing Truck (aka A FRIGGIN’ RACE TRUCK!) We loved that last pair so much, that we created a special trailer just for them:

 

 

Cars continued to be the focus in July and not just in Forza Motorsport 6. We also began revealing cars from Forza Horizon 3 with our weekly Forza Garage feature. In Week 1 alone we introduced vehicles like the Polaris RZR XP 1000 EPS and the Ford Falcon XR8. With Australia being the setting for the latest Forza Horizon game, it wasn’t long before we went deep on Aussie classics, including the 1974 Holden Sandman HQ Panel Van, the original Holden Ute, and the GTS Maloo.

 

AUGUST

In August we welcomed the world to online racing, Forza-style, with the Forza Racing ChampionshipSeason 1 of the ForzaRC erupted onto the racing world on August 8 and, with it, competitive online racing was changed for good. For the first time in Forza, players of all skill levels could come together and compete, and all of the competition happened in Ford Performance vehicles.

 

In the Open Series, players competed in a series of weekly Leagues for a chance to win great ForzaRC-themed unicorn cars. But the real star of Season 1 was the Elite Series, where the best drivers in the world came together to crown the fastest man in Forza. From the very first week, the competition was fierce, with early favorites like Laige and Lightning showing strong early results.

 

 

Throughout August, the drivers battled it out (many from the same powerhouse team, eSports + CARS) in a series of Showcase races broadcast by ESL and featured on the Forza Motorsport Beam and Twitch channels. Things culminated with the Season 1 Grand Finals, which would be held during the first weekend of September.

 

In non-ForzaRC news, August is prime time for gaming conventions like Gamescom and this year was no exception. Forza Horizon 3 had a big presence in Cologne, Germany, where Playground Games’ creative director Ralph Fulton was on hand to show off the game and give press and fans their first look at #Forzathon events, which have since become a monthly mainstay in the series. August also saw the conclusion of our Forza Garage series of car announcements for Forza Horizon 3, and it ended with an eccentric boom, with oddball classics like the three-wheeled Reliant Supervan III and the Ford Super Deluxe “Woody.”

 

August also saw the first sneak-peek at the new line of Forza-inspired Hot Wheels collectibles, which are available now in retail stores. Featuring models like the 1973 Ford Falcon XB, the 2012 Camaro ZL1 Concept, and the Forza 6 cover car, the 2017 Ford GT, these were meant to be in every car fans’ collection. In addition, we released the Turn 10 Summer Car Pack for Forza 6, featuring classic racers like the 1979 Datsun #33 Bob Sharp Racing 280ZX Turbo, the 1964 Ferrari F-158 F1, and the 1964 Watson #1 Sheraton-Thompson Special Roadster.

 

 

Finally, in August, we celebrated the 1000th story on FM.net since our redesign few years back. That’s a lot of written communication if we do say so ourselves. Sure we’re highly verbal here at Forza, but it’s only because we love you!

 

SEPTEMBER

Launch month! This time of year is always special for Forza and 2016 was no different with the late-September launch of our biggest game yet, Forza Horizon 3. Naturally, before the launch there was lots going on in the world of Forza, including Grand Finals of Season 1 of the Forza Racing Championship, which saw 12 of the fastest Forza qualifiers from Season 1 battle it out for the rights to call themselves the #ForzaRC Champion (and to take home new Ford Focus RS as top prize). Eventually Laige would prove that his form in the qualifying rounds was no accident, and he ran away with the victory in the Season 1 Grand Finals, earning that Ford Forcus in the process.

 

 

With the inaugural Forza Racing Championship season behind us, and Season 2 yet to come, the team once again turned our attention to Forza Horizon 3. Our Gone Gold announcement came with a special treat – the announcement that the Halo Warthog would be a drivable vehicle in the game came as welcome news for Forza fans who had last seen the iconic Halo vehicle in Forza Motorsport 4 (albeit back then in Autovista mode, complete with cheeky Jeremy Clarkson intro).

 

 

Mid-month saw the launch of the Forza Horizon 3 demo, arguably the biggest demo ever released by Forza (complete with multiplayer options!), giving fans a taste of what to expect in Australia. By the end of September, we were fully ready to launch Horizon 3, but even we couldn’t have predicted the amazing response the game would get. From our huge launch party at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles – where special guest Ken Block made an appearance hot off the heels of Gymkhana 9, to our friends at Xbox Canada holding a special two-week driving challenge across the entirety of the Great White North to celebrate the game’s release, it seemed like all eyes were pointed in the direction of Forza Horizon 3.

 

 

Forza Horizon 3 Ultimate Edition owners got the privilege of early access, which began on September 23 and, four days later, Australia was open to the world on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. The response was stunning. From critics to fans alike, the reaction to Forza Horizon 3 was amazing from the get-go. Naturally, the Forza community brought their skills to play from the very start:

 

 

While September was ending, the fun with Forza Horizon 3 was only getting started.

 

OCTOBER

With the immediate launch of Forza Horizon 3 out of the way, it was time to lay down some rubber and kick it into high gear. One brand new way we did that with FH3 was brand new #Forzathon events. Perhaps one of the most notorious (and popular) events from FH3’s early days was the S14th event, which gave players the chance to win the 1994 Nissan Silvia K’s, aka the S14, one of the most requested cars in Forza history.

 

These custom #Forzathon events have been going since the launch of the game and each month brings a brand new set of challenges, and new rewards to boot. You’ve probably noticed the evolution of #Forzathon over the past few weeks and you can expect to see #Forzathon evolve over time as we experiment and learn what kinds of events the community likes, and what kinds of rewards you want to see.

 

At the end of October, we made it official: The Forza Racing Championship was back and for Season 2 and we were going big. Audi cars would star in the second ForzaRC season, from the relatively tame TTS Coupe to the bonkers R18 prototype.

 

 

Across both the Elite and Recreation Series, players were competing for cash and prizes totaling more than $150,000, as well as for the chance to call themselves the ForzaRC champ.

 

In other Forza news, while we announced our Forza Motorsport Hot Wheels die cast models back in August, the die cast models began hitting stores in October. To say that seeing Forza cars on store shelves was a dream come true for many of us here at Forza is perhaps the understatement of the year.

 

NOVEMBER

From the full-speed launch of Forza Horizon 3 in late September, to keeping up the momentum in October with #Forzathon and the #ForzaRC, we kept things moving quickly in November. First up, the release of the Alpinestars Car Pack starring the new Acura NSX, that other S14 (the 1998 Kouki, specifically), and more.

 

 

Then there was that tease. A single shot of the Lamborghini Centenario, at rest in the upper reaches of some snowy mountain. Yes, that was the Forza community’s first look at the Blizzard Mountain expansion for Forza Horizon 3, which would be released in December.

 

In addition to official competition getting started in the #ForzaRC Season 2 Elite Series with the weekly Rivals qualifiers and weekend Showdown events, November also saw the release of the Forza Motorsport 6: Apex Premium Edition, featuring new cars and the full version of the legendary Nürburgring.

 

On November 15, Xbox celebrated its 15th anniversary, and Forza got in on the fun with a giveaway truck featuring a special Xbox 15th Anniversary livery.

 

DECEMBER

The Forza Racing Championship came to its Season 2 conclusion in the early part of December with the Grand Finals broadcast, which was held in Burbank, CA, featuring 16 of the fastest racers in the world looking to claim the title (and their share of the more than $30,000 cash prize pool). In addition, the Grand Finals broadcast also featured special appearances by members of the Forza team and race driver Tanner Foust, who brought his special brand of racing and commentary expertise to the show.

 

 

Once again Laige cemented his Forza legacy, by claiming the Season 2 championship, but what a path to victory. With his eSports + CARS teammate Lightning hot on his heels, it came down to the wire of the third race at Laguna Seca and some hard driving to claim that title, with a slim margin of just a few points over his teammate. It’s this kind of racing that makes the ForzaRC such a great racing spectacle. Look for more on the future of the Forza Racing Championship in 2017!

 

We kicked off the end of the year with a first in Forza – snow! The launch of the Blizzard Mountain expansion for Forza Horizon 3 brought snow, ice, and blizzard conditions to a Forza game for the very first time. Along with eight new cars – including Ken Block’s GYMKHANA 9 Ford Focus RS RX among heavy-duty trucks, Group B rally cars, and more – Blizzard Mountain also featured extreme elevation changes, a brand new career, and the kind of automotive spectacle you’d expect from Forza Horizon 3.

 

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Wow! I feel like I should be taking a deep breath after all of this Forza action. 2016 has proven to be a fantastic year for Forza, but it’s hard not to be fired up for all of the fantastic things ahead for Forza fans in 2017. Surely it will be a year full of fast cars, fun events, and yes, surprises.

 

As a reminder, join us for our annual New Year’s Eve stream on the official Forza Beam and Twitch channels starting on Saturday, Dec. 31 starting at 9 p.m. Pacific. We’ll be playing both Forza Horizon 3 and Forza Motorsport 6, and showing off our January VIP car along the way, so come help us ring in 2017 in style.

 

Thanks to all the players who have been with us for the past year and we look forward to catching up with you in January! Happy New Year, Forza Fans!