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Forza 2018 Year in Review

Brian Ekberg
Friday, December 21, 2018

What a year it’s been! 2018 has been monumental for so many reasons. From the launch of Forza Horizon 4 in the fall, to a year’s worth of fantastic updates for Forza Motorsport 7, this year was incredible for Forza games, but that wasn’t all. This year saw the biggest season in Forza Racing Championship history, as well as the dawn of a new age of Forza live-streaming, including the launch of a new monthly show dedicated to everything Forza. Best of all, we got to share this year with the always amazing Forza community. Today, we’re looking back at some of the highlights from the year that was. Enjoy!



With 2018 here, we dove directly into its first release of the year for Forza Motorsport 7 – the Totino’s Car Pack.  The pack featured a new GTLM car in the 2017 BMW #24 BMW Team RLL M6 GTLM, as well as the 1997 Lotus Elise GT1, a grip monster that proved to be popular in January Leagues. Then there were quirky additions like the 1968 Lotus 360 and the 1970 Citroen 2CV, two cars that proved you don’t always need to rely on mere horsepower to have fun behind the wheel.



Apart from the Totino’s Car Pack, we also released two free cars for Forza 7 in the form of the Hyundai Car Pack, featuring the 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo and the Veloster N:



Alongside new cars in Forza Motorsport 7, players in Forza Horizon 3 got the long-awaited Xbox One X enhancement update in January, bringing native 4K support to the beautiful open world of Horizon’s Australia.



Speaking of Forza Horizon 3, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind fans of the fantastic job performed by Don Joewon Song in creating Bucket List Blueprint events for every DLC and #Forzathon car in the game. Here’s the video to refresh your memory:



As if all of that wasn’t enough, Xbox announced a major expansion to its Xbox Game Pass, including the addition of all future first-party titles. Though Forza Horizon 4 wasn’t yet announced at the time, the thought of all those fans coming into Forza games was enough to put smiles on the faces of everyone around the halls of Turn 10 and Playground Games early in the year.



There’s no better way to kick off a month of than with an incredible car and cars don’t get much more incredible than the Bugatti Chiron. After all, just look at it:



The Bugatti Chiron was no doubt the star of our February offering for Forza Motorsport, but it wasn’t the only cool thing coming to the community. In addition to new vehicles, we set live some new features in Forza 7 that would pave the way for the next season of the Forza Racing Championship. Features like Spectate and Seed the Grid were crucial to bringing the ForzaRC action to viewers all over the world, as well as to allow players to better broadcast the races that they wanted to organize.


Then there was the release of the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Xbox One X Edition:



New streaming shows were also a big part of February, with Johniwanna adding a couple of new shows to the weekly streaming roster on Mixer and Twitch. Diving into the deep end of the accessories pool, we kicked off “Wheel & Pedal Wednesdays” where John showed off his skills behind the wheel and interviewed local automotive luminaries… all live from his home garage.


Elsewhere, Turn 10 studio head Alan Hartman took on the Bounty Hunter Rivals mantle in February with not one but TWO amazing hot-lapping events. We even dropped a surprise reward car for one of the events – Alan’s own 1958 MG MGA.



Forza fans have fond memories of the original Forza Horizon and its Colorado setting. The game that kicked off the open-world fun in the Forza universe got the Xbox One X-enhanced treatment in March, proving that you can indeed go back home again. The March Car Pack for Forza Motorsport 7 brought with it seven new vehicles into the game, including acclaimed racers like the 1983 Jaguar #44 Group 44 XJR-S and the 1977 Brabham #8 Motor Racing Developments BT45B, among others.



March also saw the kick-off to the 2018 Forza Racing Championship season. For the first time, we brought the ForzaRC home to nearby Seattle, and we brought ForzaRC drivers along for the fun too. The 2018 Forza Racing Championship Seattle Pre-Season Invitational was held on March 24, starring 19 of the world’s best Forza drivers, all in one place. In addition to the racing action, we also welcomed racing announcer John Hindhaugh to the studio to help us kick off the season. No surprise that G2 Laige came out on top in Seattle in the individual competition, followed closely by AMS Roadrunner and TX3 Lightning.



If you were looking for surprises, then the inaugural Team Competition was where it was at. Three-man teams mixed it up on track, in a competition that saw some furious racing action. In the end, it was the F4H team who took home the win. Perhaps ironically, the two most successful drivers from the F4H team – ForceOne and Racerz – would soon light off to another up-and-coming team (Team Veloce) not long after the Invitational was done.



We dropped the green flag on the Forza Racing Championship competitive season in April. Series 1 kicked off with new Rivals events, weekend races, and our Wednesday Showdown live events. Broadcast every other week, the Wednesday Showdowns featured two shows per day (in the morning for European racers, and evening for the North America crowd). Those races would continue throughout April and May, ending with our Series 1 Playoffs in June.


Our run of Bounty Hunter events continued in April with a driver who has long been associated with Forza: Tanner Foust! The entire Forza community challenged Foust’s time featuring Foust’s Volkswagen Beetle GRC on the Dubai Mountain Circuit, with great rewards on the line.


The April update for Forza Motorsport 7 launched mid-month, bringing with it returning features like Race Telemetry, along with new features like Multiplayer Test Drive, as well as the cars of the K1 Speed Car Pack.


In addition to the April features and content, we also debuted our full list of class-based hoppers – one of the most requested features from the Forza community. The class hoppers replaced the previous “Breakout” hoppers, and still remain some of the most popular events in Forza Motorsport 7 to this day.



In many ways, May 2018 was a turning point for Forza Motorsport 7. Sure, the team at Turn 10 had been busy for months listening to and responding to feedback from the Forza community. But, in addition to our monthly updates, May marked the first time that the community saw some new and different fruit from all that feedback.

May 18 was the day, an appearance on “Inside Xbox” was the occasion. It was several firsts for Forza – the first time FM7 had appeared on the show and, to Your Humble Community Manager’s knowledge, the first time Turn 10 had ever publicly shown work-in-progress features. I’m not talking about showing off a polished game demo at E3 – I mean features that were currently in development, dev code warts, and all.



During the show, we showed off new features, including our Experimental Drag feature which would arrive later in the year, and talked for the first time about the system that we now know as Forza Race Regulations. We also showed off the new Track Limits feature for the first time. To say the least, it was a thrilling time for everyone at the studio.


The response was tremendous. After the show appearance, we got so many questions about the new systems we showed off, and we’ve continued to move forward with that approach in the months since. Our goal, as always, has been to keep the community involved in our decisions and to talk about the game as openly as possible, to gather feedback, and continue to make Forza Motorsport 7 the best game it can be.


Of course, May had more than just an appearance on Inside Xbox. Our May Update for Forza 7 featured the first of a new cadence of free cars for Forza fans – the 2018 Honda Civic Type R.


Just in time for the 2018 running of the Indianapolis 500, we also introduced the ForzarC IndyCar Challenge. This event featured two Rivals events – one on the Brickyard oval, the other on the IndyGP track, and not one Bounty Hunter Rival but four. Better yet, each was a real-life IndyCar driver. Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Robert Wickens, and James Hinchliffe each turned in times over the month-long challenge, with Newgarden (a dyed-in-the-wool Forza driver from way back) taking the top spot of among the IndyCar drivers.



As past years have shown, June 2018 another busy month for Forza, but this year June was busier than most. Not only did we announce the latest edition of Forza Horizon at E3 (more on that in just a bit) but we also launched our “Forza Monthly” broadcast. Now, you can question the sanity of people who thought it might be a good idea to launch a new broadcast series smack dab in the middle of planning the E3 Forza Horizon 4 announcement but, let’s face it, that’s just how we roll. The first episode of “Forza Monthly” kicked off in June and served as a fantastic way to not just give viewers the latest news across Forza, but as a way for us to hear back from the community. If you missed it, here’s our very first “Forza Monthly” show:



The one thing we couldn’t yet talk about on June’s “Forza Monthly” was our biggest news of the month: the official announcement of Forza Horizon 4! We unveiled the biggest Forza Horizon game yet on stage at E3 2018, with a fantastic demo led by Playground Games’ Ralph Fulton and a cast of enthusiastic Playground and Turn 10 employees and fans. In that very same show, Xbox’s Phil Spencer also dropped the news that Playground Games was officially becoming a part of the Xbox first-party family, alongside several other newly acquired studios.


Of course, the announcement of Forza Horizon 4 focused on the big news around the game – that gorgeous British setting and the fact that seasons would be an integral part of the gameplay design and overall experience. Indeed “Seasons Change Everything” in Forza Horizon 4 and, in June, fans were getting just a taste of all the awesomeness that was to come over the course of the summer.



And speaking of awesomeness, one of the coolest parts of Forza Horizon 4’s June reveal was the announcement of the game’s cover car, the McLaren Senna. Not only is the car drivable in FH4, but Xbox hosted the exclusive North American reveal of the car at E3 2018.



In Forza 7 the June update added new functionality around #Forzathons, as well as multi-class racing and the ability to tune cars in multiplayer lobbies or when test driving their cars. There was also the introduction of a new “panning focus” mode for photographers, as well as our Data Out function, which we’ve continued to improve over time. Add to that the Hoonigan Car Pack and the 1982 Ford #6 Zakspeed Roush Mustang IMSA GT as the June Spotlight car, and there was plenty to talk about.


Amongst all of this, we had the Series 1 Playoffs of the Forza Racing Championship, occurring right in our backyard of Seattle. More than 30 ForzaRC drivers from across the globe converged to compete for the title of Series 1 champ across two grueling days of racing. In the end, Noble b0x broke his championship duck to take home the Series 1 title with a win that was as emotional as it was exciting.



Hot off the heels of the ForzaRC Series 1 Playoffs was our ForzaRC Pro-Am Bounty Hunter event, which pitted ForzaRC drivers like Laige, Lightning, b0x,  and others as captains of teams comprised of ForzaRC drivers. It was a month-long competition amongst teams, and amongst the drivers themselves – and all of it rewarded Forza 7 players with one of the biggest hauls of cars and gear ever seen in the game.



With E3 behind us, we kicked things into a new gear in July, live from Playground Games. In July, the doors to the world of Forza Horizon 4 were blown wide open thanks to Playground, who hosted a series of livestreams from PG HQ. Four broadcasts over the course of four weeks, each focusing on a single season in Forza Horizon 4, and each unveiling new features, content, and secrets about the game. From driving through the beautiful wintertime snow to chasing sheep near the Uffington White Horse, the series was the perfect way to get fans excited for the fun to come in Forza Horizon 4.




The July episode of “Forza Monthly” was another jam-packed edition, covering news of the Formula Drift cars in Forza Horizon 4, as well as looking at the July update for Forza Motorsport 7.



That July update was huge for Forza 7 players, thanks to two top-flight car debuts, including the “Pink Pig” Porsche #23 917/20 and the long-awaited 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS. In addition, the Top Gear Car Pack was officially unveiled, featuring fan-favorites chosen by the Top Gear crew, including the 2017 Ferrari 812 Superfast, the 2018 McLaren 720 S, and more.



Another important change to Forza Motorsport 7 was announced in July: due to overwhelming feedback from the Forza community, we announced the decision to remove prize crates from Forza Motorsport 7 altogether. We started the work in July, by unlocking more than 100 previously locked cars in the game. Prize crates would ultimately be removed from the game in November, replaced by the current Race Shop feature.


With the Special Olympics happening in Seattle in July, we were proud to have Forza Motorsport 7 as the featured game in the Xbox Gaming Tournament, hosted by the Special Olympics USA Games. In addition to competing in the tournament, competitors got a tour of Turn 10 as well as the opportunity to take some photos with some gorgeous cars, courtesy of McLaren.


By the end of July, anticipation for Forza Horizon 4 was at an all-time high and Xbox was able to give Forza fans an extra treat – Forza Horizon 2 for free as part of July’s Games With Gold program. This gave thousands of Forza fans the chance to experience Playground Games’ second Horizon masterpiece for the first time, and a nostalgic road trip into the past for long time fans of this classic game. It also set the stage for the final two months before the launch of Forza Horizon 4.



Drifting was at the forefront of everyone’s mind in August. The Formula Drift Car Pack made its debut via this wondferful trailer:



Arriving in both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport 7, the Formula Drift Car Pack was symbolic of some of the cool drift-specific strides that the teams at Playground Games and Turn 10 had made in both games. Drift suspension upgrades were already announced as coming to Forza Horizon 4 at launch and, in August, we made those upgrades a reality for Forza 7 players. New extreme steering angles, plus a new scoring model meant drifters were getting a lot of love in the game.


One of the most dramatic changes in Forza 7 also arrived in August – newly defined Track Limits. The Turn 10 team went through every track and ribbon in the game to redefine the line between “clean” and “dirty.” Redefining track limits was a crucial step towards bringing the promised Forza Race Regulations system into the game. In addition, the game’s August update also featured the ability to turn on illuminated lines displaying those newly updated limits, as well as the return of Time Attack events across every class, weather option, and time of day in the game. Add to that the addition of the 1989 Aston Martin #18 Aston Martin AMR1 as the August Spotlight car, and you have the makings of a very big month for Forza 7 players.



In August, Forza Horizon 4 made its debut at Gamescom 2018, giving thousands of fans in Europe their first glimpse at the game and we unveiled the full achievement list for the game. Finally, with the Series 1 Playoffs behind us, and Series 2 kicking off in July, the Forza Racing Championship was already in high gear in August. Every other week, the drivers competed on the Wednesday Showdown broadcasts to prove their pace and earn crucial points on the ForzaRC leaderboards.



Sweet September! Now here was a month that Forza fans could dig their teeth into. The end of the month would see the launch of Forza Horizon 4 into early access for Ultimate Edition owners. But before we got there, we had a ton of cool stuff happen throughout the Forza universe, including:


· The release of Experimental Drag in Forza Motorsport 7! Teased for the first time back in May, this new mode was introduced as a brand new re-imagining of drag racing in the game, complete with a traditional Christmas tree light post, more control over starts, and more post-race stats to chew on once the racing was done. Best of all, Experimental Drag brought hugely improved load times to the fore – players could now finish a race and load back to the start with a press of the button.

· The launch of Meetups in Forza 7. We’d been building up to this release for a while – by releasing the ability to Test Drive in multiplayer, or change your tune while in a multiplayer lobby. With Meetups, players could jump in and out of a multilpayer match at will, change their cars, tune cars, and more. A major boon for drifters and those who just wanted to hang & hoon with friends on a track, Meetups turned out to be one of the most useful and popular additions to the game in 2018.

· Music and cars is what makes the world go around in a game like Forza Horizon 4 and fans got a double-download of both in September with the official release of the car list and the full soundtrack announcement in the game. Then there was that unforgettable Forza Horizon 4 commercial:



· Bond. James Bond. Best of Bond Car Pack. Forza Horizon 4:



There was also Goodwood and the launch of Forza Horizon 4. Undoubtedly the coolest launch event Forza has ever had – this brought Forza to the historic acres of the Goodwood Estate in the UK, home of the famous Festival of Speed. For a week, this iconic home of British motorsports became home to the Horizon Festival, with amazing cars, stunts, and entertainment for Forza fans from all over the world to enjoy.


In addition to hosting influencers from all over the world, Forza’s Goodwood launch event also served as a place for us to make some news about Forza Horizon 4 as well, including the official announce of the Route Creator, which would arrive in the game post-release.



If all of that launch madness weren’t enough, the same weekend of launching Forza Horizon 4 into early access, we also saw the Forza Racing Championships Series 2 Playoffs take place in Mexico City. Epic racing and a dash of controversy made the Series 2 playoffs unforgettable for drivers and viewers alike. G2 Laige proved that he was set to once again conquer the ForzaRC world with his Series 2 championship, followed closely by Noble b0x and Williams Mitch. These three drivers were on a collision course for London, which was just a handful of weeks away.


For most Forza fans, everyone was eyeing that September 28 date – the day Forza Horizon 4 became available in early access for Ultimate Edition owners. After that, it was only a few days before the game became available to everyone including, for the first time ever, Xbox Game Pass owners. The Forza Horizon 4 legend was set to grow in October and beyond.



We kicked it all off on October 1, with the October edition of “Forza Monthly.” The big focus of the show was the arrival of the Formula Drift Car Pack in Forza Motorsport 7. Also available in Forza Horizon 4, the Formula Drift cars featured new and classics drift cars from the competitive series – tied perfectly to the recent drift updates in both games that made getting “slideways” that much more fun. In addition, the October Spotlight Car was a classic chunk of mid-80s IMSA racing history in the 1986 Merkur #11 MAC Tools XR4Ti.



With the launch of the game, Forza Horizon 4 began rolling out its unique dosage of weekly content. With seasons changing every week, Playground Games could deliver new cars, new driving experiences, and new fun into the game on a regular basis. From new Horizon Life events to checking the #Forzathon Shop to keep up to date on all the latest items (cars, clothing, and so much more) Forza Horizon 4 continues to give players more stuff to see and do on a regular basis.


The Forza Racing Championship 2018 season reached its peak during the weekend of October 20-21 with the Forza Racing World Championships. Hosted live from the Gfinity Arena in London (a stone’s throw from Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium), the event brought together the heavy hitters in the world of ForzaRC one final time to compete for the top prize and the claim to be the best Forza driver in the world. London proved to be a fantastic host not just because of the fantastic facilities but also because this was the first ForzaRC event to host a live audience. The energy and enthusiasm of that Forza crowd made the World Finals that much more intense and entertaining.


While the on-track action was fantastic from the start, it will be of little surprise to note that the final battle came down to three supremely talented drivers – G2 Laige, Noble b0x and Williams Mitch. While the battle was thrilling to watch, the London Finals were truly Laige’s from start to finish; and the driver widely referred to as the greatest ForzaRC driver of all time lived up to that title in London.



While Forza and SEMA (that’s the Specialty Equipment Market Association) have always had a relationship, this year we took things up a level. Our own Co-Pilot and Johniwanna made the trip to Las Vegas to check out the show known for its wild custom cars and automotive showcases.




With October behind us, we headed into November in strong fashion, starting with the November edition of “Forza Monthly” where we covered the latest in Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport 7 and welcomed Mike Brown from Playground Games to the show for the very first time.



While Forza Horizon fans are no strangers to Hot Wheels fun – the Hot Wheels expansion for Forza Horizon 3 looms large in practically Forza fan’s heart – it was high time for Forza Motorsport 7 to get in on the action. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hot Wheels came in the form of a new pack of Hot Wheels cars. Alongside classics like the Bone Shaker and the Twin Mill, the free pack also featured new 50th anniversary models like the 1970 Corvette ZR-1 and more. Players could also win Hot Wheels Driver Gear suits by completing #Forzathon events during November and December.



One of the biggest changes in Forza Motorsport 7 in November was something we had announced months prior. With the November update for the game, we removed prize crates from the game. In their place was a new Race Shop that allows players to purchase items like Driver Gear, Mod Cards, and Badges, with new items rotating in and out on a regular basis. With the Race Shop we made some important changes to Forza 7’s Loyalty Rewards program as well, replacing deprecated prize crate rewards with Mod cards. In addition, the November update for Forza Motorsport 7 also brought in a new collision model and Collision Assist driver assist setting.


X018, Xbox’s annual celebration of… well, everything Xbox, took place in Mexico City in November. Among thousands of Mexico’s biggest Xbox fans, there were announcements aplenty, but none bigger for Forza fans than the first look at the first expansion for Forza Horizon 4 – Fortune Island. That first look included a sneak peek at the forbidding location of the island itself – complete with extreme terrain, violent weather, and the new Lamborghini Urus. Launching in December, it would only be a few scant weeks before players were able to explore this expansion.




It was full speed ahead with the launch of the December Update for Forza Motorsport 7. One way to think of the December update for Forza 7 was a new livery design for the game; the game’s menus were restructured and redesigned, with some gorgeous new art to support those tiles. If that sounds like a small thing, it certainly wasn’t – as the design and implementation of these changes were months in the making and the results speak for themselves.


It wasn’t just a new coat of paint in December. In addition to new improvements to Rivals mode and a new Spotlight Car in the form of the 2017 BMW #1 BMW M Motorsport M8 GTE, the update also included a major new update to force feedback in the game. The new force feedback is a full physically based system utilizing Forza Motorsport 7’s suspension kinematics and tire modeling to send tire loads to the steering wheel. If you’re a wheel user and you want to make the most of these new force feedback settings, or you’ve been considering a wheel for Forza Motorsport 7 but don’t know where to start, check out the Supported Wheels and Devices and the Wheel Setup and Tuning Guide, as well as the Forza Motorsport 7 Force Feedback FAQ on the Forza Support site.


Naturally Forza Motorsport 7 wasn’t the only Forza game to get some end-of-year love. On December 13, Playground Games launched the Fortune Island expansion for Forza Horizon 4. Mysterious, dangerous, treacherous – any of these words could be used to describe the new island off the coast of Britain – not to mention fun, fast, and thrilling, and so many more. With incredible weather effects and some of the best off-road terrain Playground has ever created, Fortune Island is worth exploring no matter what you like to do in Forza.


In our December edition of “Forza Monthly” we caught up on both Forza Motorsport 7’s December Update as well as Fortune Island in Forza Horizon 4. The December show also looked at the latest update for Forza Horizon 4, and looked ahead to 2019 where both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport 7 will see additional features. With Forza Horizon 4, players can expect a new update in mid-January featuring multiplayer improvements and more. The show also provided fans with an in-depth look at the much-anticipated Forza Race Regulations feature, which is currently in development for Forza Motorsport 7.



Clearly, this has been a big year for Forza. In many ways it’s been a year unlike anything in our history. We’ve had a fantastic time sharing this community with Forza fans all over the world in 2018 and, as much as we’re looking forward to taking some time to be with our loved ones over the holidays, part of us is itching to get started on 2019.


A few notes before we head out for the year: The next edition of the Forza Week in Review will arrive here on the site on Friday, January 11. Our regular cadence of livestream broadcasts will continue throughout the holidays. Johniwanna will be streaming his regular shows (though not on Christmas Day, mind you) and I’ll be here for regular installments of #ForzaFriday. In addition, please join me on Monday, December 31 for our traditional New Year’s Eve stream. We’ll be ringing in 2019 at top speed in Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport 7, so don’t miss the show. Until then, enjoy the holidays and we’ll see you in 2019!