Forza Year in Review 2019

Brian Ekberg
Thursday, December 26, 2019

 

Welcome to the 2019 Forza Year in Review! This year has been a great one for Forza fans – a year unlike any other in Forza history. Here, we’ll take a look back at 2019 and give you a month-by-month look at everything that made this year such a special one. Dig in!

 

JANUARY

Two huge updates in the same week? That’s just how Forza rolled for the new year in 2019. As set up in the first “Forza Monthly” of the year, we lead off with the Series 5 update for Forza Horizon 4, which added new features like Free For All Adventure and a new Horizon Story series, “Isha’s Taxis.” In addition, we welcomed Mitsubishi back to the Forza Horizon series with the Series 5 update, adding seven Mitsubishi models to the game at no additional cost to players.

 

 

Over in Forza Motorsport 7, the January update for the game brought cars galore, first in the form of the January Spotlight car – the 2018 Audi #1 Audi Sport RS 3 LMS. That slice of racing heaven was warmly received by the Forza community, particularly those with a racing bent. Alongside the Audi were the cars of the Barrett-Jackson Car Pack, featuring seven ultra-collectible cars including the legendary 1963 Shelby Monaco King Cobra.

 

 

January also saw the refresh of our Cycled Production Hopper in Forza Motorsport 7, featuring more than a hundred car/track combinations suggested by the Forza community itself.

 

FEBRUARY

It wouldn’t become apparent to the public until March but, behind the scenes, February was an incredible month at Turn 10. The development team was working incredibly hard on features like Forza Race Regulations, which would take its first halting steps into the world in March, and the franchise was getting ready to make some big announcements about the future of Forza. Oh, and it snowed. More accurately IT SNOWWWWWWWED in early February, crippling the local infrastructure and causing more than a few ‘snow days’ for Turn 10’s Redmond-based employees. In my nine years of living in the great Pacific Northwest, I haven’t seen snow like that and, frankly, I don’t care to again. But before we got to March, February had goodies of its own.

 

Over in Forza Motorsport 7, the second FM7 “February” update (remember, we had one in February 2018 as well!) brought with it the 2017 Ferrari GTC4 Lusso as well as some qualify of life improvements for Forza 7 painters in the form of four new lighting options, among other cool stuff.

 

Over in Forza Horizon 4, February brought Series 6 to players including the new “Skill Streak” Horizon Story, new Seasonal Playground games, Hoonigan gear, and new Horizon Season events. While the Forza Horizon 4 Car Pass ended in February, it went out with a bang, including cars like the TVR Griffith, and the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible.

 

We also continued Forza’s tradition of bringing video-game inspired vehicles into Forza games with the release of not one but two Quartz Regalia models in Forza Horizon 4. In addition to the instantly recognizable Quartz Regalia from Final Fantasy XV, we also brought the Quartz Regalia Type D, a truly imposing off-road ready behemoth with pipes that are normally reserved for spacefaring craft.

 

 

Around the rest of the world of Forza, Johniwanna took a trip to Scottsdale, AZ in January to attend the 2019 Barrett-Jackson Auction. In February we aired the results of that trip, in which John got a chance to tour the legendary automotive show, see thousands of amazing vehicles, and talk to more than a few legends.

 

 

While the 2019 Forza Racing Championship season was several months away from getting kicked off, the early part of 2019 (including February) saw a lot of Forza-related competition in the form of the Le Mans eSports series. The series, which culminated its season with its finals at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, saw several ForzaRC regulars staking their claim on the podiums.

 

MARCH

For the first time in “Forza Monthly” history we welcomed Forza creative director Dan Greenawalt to the set in March. For good reason too; not only was Dan on hand to talk about the expanding role that the Forza Community has had in the changes in Forza Motorsport 7, he was also here to talk about the future. Namely the next project from the Motorsport team, which has been the ongoing subject of discussion in Forza Monthly and elsewhere around the community. Considering how far it’s come (and how far is still yet to go) it’s cool to look back to the point where we first invited Forza fans on this journey towards the next great Forza game.

 

 

That wasn’t the only big news coming out of the March edition of “Forza Monthly” either. The long awaited-debut of Forza Race Regulations (FRR) happened in March, albeit in limited form. After months of work behind the scenes, we kicked off the first private FRR beta, allowing a small number of players to test FRR in a limited state, and began the long process of evolving FRR over the months that followed.

 

March was a drift-heavy month in both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport 7. First off, that’s because we introduced three new drift-ready cars to both games in March: the RTR Spec 5, as well as the competitive Formula Drift Mustangs driven by Chelsea DeNofa (who guested on the March “Forza Monthly”) and Vaughn Gittin Jr. (who would go on to appear on the show in April). We also introduced a new drift-focused cockpit camera option in Forza Motorsport 7.

 

In Forza Horizon 4, the big news was the Festival Playlist – a new all-in-one spot where players could see everything that was going on each season in the game. The Festival Playlist also introduced reward cars that could be earned by completing events in the game. Alongside that, Playground also introduced the concept of Showcase Remixes, new takes on classic Showcase events in Forza Horizon 4.

 

The Forza Community came up big in March in several ways. First off there was the PTG community who showed amazing support for Akane Beardow and her battle against cancer. Then there was the likes of Don Joewon Song with his fresh take on what a Forza Horizon 4 arcade game might look and play like. Here, re-live “Project Arcade”:

 

 

And finally there was the amazing stop-motion short film made by PTG FOX – a miniature masterpiece that has since become a Forza community classic.

 

 

APRIL

April was a month of Forza firsts. With Forza Motorsport 7, we opened the public beta of our Forza Race Regulations (FRR) feature in April. After starting with a small private beta in March, we opened the feedback floodgates by releasing a limited version of FRR to the wider world. FRR in April was a very different beast compared to the feature we enjoy now in the game. At that time we were only focused on track cutting – regulating player-to-player collisions is something that would only come with further development in the game.

 

Giving players early access to FRR allowed us to open the conversation with the entire Forza community; to see what they liked and disliked about the feature, and to continue that conversation in the following months as the developers at Turn 10 continued work on the feature.

 

April also saw us release a new Forza game into the wild: Forza Street, which made its debut on Windows 10 devices.

 

MAY

Series 9 for Forza Horizon 4 kicked off May. The update introduced a new Horizon Story series called “The Car Files”, as well as a Showcase Remix for the Delta Wing Showcase event. In addition, Playground Games delivered some important anti-griefing updates – including a slowdown for wall-riders, as well as ghosting cars looking to intentionally slam into opponents -- designed to make the online racing experience even better in the game. In addition, the Apollo Intensa Emozione was introduced to the game, among other special reward cars.

 

 

Over in Forza Motorsport 7, the May 2019 update was IndyCar themed through and through. In celebration of the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500, the May update brought six Spotlight cars to the game – four 2019-model IndyCar racecars (complete with both oval and road aero packages), the Chevy ZR1 pace car, and the famous 1969 Ford Brawner Hawk III, celebrating 50 years since Mario Andretti’s famous win in the 1969 Indy 500 in that very car.

 

Ten IndyCar drivers and owners helped us send off the Forza Motorsport 7 Bounty Hunter Rivals series off in style with our May event. Featuring the 2019 IndyCars on the Indy oval, this was one of the most tightly contested (and popular!) Bounty Hunter events in series history. The IndyCar drivers through themselves at the event with ardor – at one point, in his bid to beat his Josef Newgarden’s time, Conor Daly drove nearly the equivalent of a full Indianapolis 500 race in a single sitting. That, friends, is competitive spirit.

 

Also in May, we kicked off a limited series of videos featuring Forza’s own Johniwanna called “Along For the Ride.” A car-focused show featuring owners (and their beloved rides) from across the Pacific Northwest, this was a special look at car culture that Forza has never done before. Check out the first episode, which featured a custom Hondura in the style of the Renault 5 Turbo, again:

 

 

While it was all conducted behind the scenes, the Forza Racing Championship conducted its first test of the year in Los Angeles in May. Team play, new formats, adjudication reviews, new talent tryouts, and much more was just some of the items that were part of the May test. While it would be a few more months before we revealed our 2019 plans for the ForzaRC, the wait would certainly be worth it.

 

JUNE

E3 makes June a big month for gamers just by itself. While E3 2019 was tamer in comparison to other years, it still held excitement for Forza fans. That was felt most keenly with the announcement (and subsequent launch a few days later) of the LEGO Speed Champions Expansion for Forza Horizon 4. Like the Hot Wheels expansion for Forza Horizon 3 before it, LEGO came to Forza Horizon 4 with a beautiful melding of LEGO’s unmistakable brick-based world and trademark humor, combined with Forza’s physics and driving fun.

 

 

The announcement of the LEGO Expansion was on Sunday during the Xbox Press Briefing – players would get their hands on the expansion the following Thursday, when it launched worldwide. Before that we were able to spend some time with the expansion as well as LEGO’s Chris Stamp and Mike Brown as part of our special June edition of “Forza Monthly.” Filmed on location in the L.A. Live area of downtown Los Angeles, it was the first time we’d taken the flagship monthly streaming show on the road.

 

 

Other special guests found their way to the June “Forza Monthly.” We first welcomed Turn 10’s Jennifer Yi, who spoke about the then-recent Forza Racing Championship tests held the previous month in Burbank (look for it at the 1:03:37 mark), and Dan Greenawalt dropped by to where he spoke about the past, present and future of the franchise, leading into the development of the next big Forza game (fast forward to the 1:14:10 mark).

 

Just a few days after E3 2019 wrapped up, some of the best Forza racers in the world converged on Le Mans to compete in the 2019 Le Mans Esports Super Final, held on the same weekend as the real-life 24 Hours of Le Mans. Teams would compete in a grueling nine races in Forza Motorsport 7 over the span of 24 hours, with team drivers doing their best to find sleep and food when they could. In the end it was the Veloce Team of Virus, Daveyskills and driver James Baldwin who reigned supreme and took home the $25,000 top prize.

 

June also featured some special guests on Forza streaming broadcasts. The inestimable Sir Mix-A-Lot made his Forza debut with his appearance on Johniwanna’s “Wheel & Pedal Wednesday” talking about his career in the music business and his love of cars; he even brought his unmistakable bright orange Lamborghini Aventador along for an in-depth peek under the hood.

 

 

On the final #ForzaFriday of June, we also welcomed the boss of all things Forza, Alan Hartman, back to the couch for a fun hour-long chat that covered the early days of Forza, Alan’s career before Xbox, and a great story about taking a cab in L.A. to a meeting with none other than famed Hollywood director Steven Spielberg.

 

With a busy month of June behind us, it was time to look ahead to the second half of the year and all the excitement that was still to come in 2019.

 

JULY

Boosted tractors ahem… sorry, Track-Tors, a bear-hunt-ready Mercedes AMG, and a six-wheeled Merc Sports Utility Truck made up the trio of unusual vehicles arriving in Forza Horizon 4 in July. These three cars came as part of the new Top Gear Horizon Story that was the feature of the Series 11 update for the game. In addition to the new vehicles, the Top Gear story included a series of new Top Gear-inspired challenges narrated by Top Gear host Chris Harris.

 

 

There was more to celebrate in Series 11, including the launch of class-based Rivals events, Auction House changes, and the introduction of the Horizon Life Timeline, meant to help players more easily keep up with their in-game goals.

 

In Forza Motorsport 7, July saw another huge update to the ongoing Forza Race Regulations (FRR) system: collision-based penalties. Known as “Avoidable Contact” in the game, these penalties complemented the track-cutting penalties that were introduced earlier in the year, creating the complete set of penalties used in the FRR system in Forza 7. In related news, in July we also announced the final set of online events in Forza 7, including the rotations for Leagues, Hoppers, and Specialty Dealer cars.

 

Finally, in July we broke the news that the August update for Forza Motorsport 7 would be the game’s final update, leaving room for the Motorsport team at Turn 10 to focus entirely on its next project.

 

AUGUST

For Forza Motorsport 7 players, August was bittersweet. The month saw the final large update for Forza Motorsport 7, effectively ending an incredible run of post-release support for Turn 10’s latest Motorsport game. In addition to introducing disqualifications to the Forza Race Regulations feature set, as well as adding the much-requested timed interval gap mini leaderboard, the update went out on a high note for fans of Forza 7 Spotlight Cars, with the introduction of the 2019 Porsche #4 Porsche Motorsport 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport as a free gift to all Forza 7 players.

 

Over in Forza Horizon 4, Series 12 continued the LEGO-fied fun with the drop of the first LEGO Speed Champions Barn Find, the Porsche 911 Turbo 3.0. The Series 12 update also introduced several new vehicles to the game, including two Aston Martins (the 2019 DBS Superleggera and the 2017 Vanquish Zagato Coupé), alongside a pair of new Volkswagens from 1967 – the Karmann Ghia and the Type 3 “Notchback” 1600L.

 

The Series 13 update, which also was released in August, was a Porsche fan’s delight, introducing five Porsche models from classics like the 1951 Porsche #46 356 SL Gmünd Coupe, the 1966 Porsche Carrera 6, and the 1970 Porsche #3 917 LH, to modern makes including the 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS and the 2019 Porsche Macan Turbo.

 

 

Finally, after months of speculation in the community, August saw the announcement that competitive Forza players were waiting for: the official start of the Forza Racing Championship. The announcement of the ForzaRC 2019 Invitational Series was met with open arms from drivers and fans alike, not only because the start of a new season is always a good thing for ForzaRC fans, but because the 2019 season promised a new-look format that was based around teams. With the racing action set to kick off in September, the teams had a few weeks to prepare before the green flag dropped.

 

SEPTEMBER

If this were any other year in the world of Forza, we might be celebrating the release of another new game in late September. In 2019, September meant keeping the update train rolling for Forza Horizon 4 and kicking off the season of esports with the Forza Racing Championship 2019 Invitational Series.

 

The Series 14 update for Forza Horizon 4 put the focus on the Route Blueprint features in the game. With the update Playground introduced the ability for players to edit checkpoints in Blueprint creations. This allows players to jump to any checkpoint in a route to edit its width and placement, completely redraw your route from any checkpoint, and/or convert a circuit race to a point-to-point feature or vice-versa. In addition, the update has brought the 2018 Volkswagen #94 Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak and a pair of McLarens in the 600 LT and the 720S, among others.

 

In September we celebrated the one-year anniversary of Forza Horizon 4’s launch, with a pair of livestreams from Playground Games’ HQ. Once the Playground stream finished up, we lit up the lights and cameras once again for the September edition of Forza Monthly, where we welcomed special our friends from Playground and held a fun trivia contest, with questions submitted by the community. (Fast-forward to the 29-minute mark to relive the fun):

 

 

September also saw the kick-off of the ForzaRC 2019 Invitational Series. Thirteen teams were invited to be a part of the 2019 Invitational Series, with each team fielding three drivers and a coach. That alone would have been enough to grab interested fans’ ears, but the 2019 Invitational had more wildcards to throw at drivers, including allowing builds for the first time across a set Performance Index point total that would be split across the team (or, indeed, given to a single player as was a dominant strategy throughout the series).

 

In addition, teams had the opportunity to earn boosts (aka extra PI points) they could put into the cars after performing specific feats on the racetrack. All that, plus car lineups that changes week in and week out, making sure that the ForzaRC competitors weren’t just challenged for their on-track skill, but for their tuning ability, understanding of the Forza 7 car roster, their strategic thinking, and their ability to work together on the track.

 

Finally, we celebrated a small but significant milestone for long-time Forza fans in September with the 150th running of the #ForzaFriday Random Ring Race. The act of running a new car on the Nürburgring each Friday has become a small piece of Forza tradition over the years and something that every #ForzaFriday viewer looks forward to. After all it’s the longest running Nürburgring-based online racing event series in videogaming history; hey, Guinness are you listening?

 

OCTOBER

Series 15 lead the month of October with the reveal of the 2019 Bugatti Divo, the latest masterpiece from the famed French manufacturer. All 40 produced Divos sold out IRL, despite the car’s $6 million price tag, so your best shot in experiencing this rare hypercar is in Forza Horizon 4. The Divo was accompanied by two classic Forza cars last seen in Forza Motorsport 4: the Koenigsegg CCGT and the Rossion Q1.

 

The October edition of “Forza Monthly” featured guests from Playground Games to talk about Series 15, as well as a special appearance by the one and only PTG Fox, who had a banner 2019 with his astonishing “living livery” creative work. During the show we had a chance to talk to Fox about his inspiration and how he developed his creative style in the Forza livery editor.

 

 

October also saw the ForzaRC reach its midway point and beyond with teams like Lazarus, Red Bull Racing, and Williams Esports all making their case for the championship title. The series would wrap up in November with a thrilling championship series live from Burbank, CA.

 

NOVEMBER

Japanese and Italian manufacturers were in the news in November for Forza. Mid-way through the month, we announced that Forza and Toyota had reached an agreement to bring back the famed Japanese cars back to the Forza franchise for years to come. The first Toyota to return would be the 1998 Toyota Suprza RZ with the Series 17 update for Forza Horizon 4; look for more information on more Toyota cars coming to Forza in the future.

 

As for Italian makes, we start with Ferrari who had two tifosi-pleasing models introduced with the Series 16 update for Forza Horizon 4 – the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista and the classic 1970 Ferrari 512 S. The former is the latest track specialist supercar from Maranello while the latter is known for its classic battles with Porsche in the early 70s. Either are fantastic options for a Sunday drive (or a blistering, no-holds-barred race) in the British countryside.

 

The Series 16 Update

 

 

Italy’s Lamborghini also made headlines in November as the announced title sponsor  for the Forza Racing Championship’s 2019 Finals in Los Angeles. Held over the weekend of November 23rd – 24th, the Finals were a thrilling end to the first team-based season in ForzaRC history. Coming into the weekend, there were at least three teams that could have taken home the trophy in Lazarus, Williams, and Red Bull. On the back of a brilliant undefeated streak from Laige (aka the ForzaRC’s G.O.A.T.), Red Bull came home with the trophy and the top prize from the $250,000 prize pool.

 

Better yet, the ForzaRC is confirmed for a return in spring of 2020 so start making your predictions now…

 

DECEMBER- From John “Johniwanna” Schommer

We would be remiss to not start out by saying that the departure of Brian Ekberg aka Mechberg has been one of the most significant changes to come to the world of Forza. Our Forza Community Manager of the last nine years had his last day on December 7 and we sent him out with a bang. . If you didn’t see Mechberg’s final #ForzaFriday you missed an amazing send off and quite a few tears. For myself, there would be no Johniwanna as you know it, if not for Mechberg, so I have a lot to thank him for. We shall carry on though, and as Brian moves on to the next chapter in his career, we continue to wish him well.

 

From somber to The Eliminator to Supra we go.

 

Forza Horizon 4’s Series 17 update on December 12 brought players a lot of cool content starting with The Eliminator, an all-new, free battle royale inspired game mode. In this mode, 72 players face-off within an arena set in the British Isles.

 

Yes, the triumphant return of Toyota did actually happen with the 1998 Toyota Supra RZ along with the release of a slew of hot hatches and performance driven cars from Renaults and an aptly named bit of American muscle.

 

 

It felt a bit odd watching the December edition of Forza Monthly without Mechberg hosting, but this episode was nonetheless an exciting one with guest host Kate Yeager and special guests Mike Brown and Andy Baranowski of Playground Games.

 

Of course, they played the new Eliminator game mode and showed off all the new automotive hardware. It was like Christmas getting so much free content!

 

 

So ends our look back on what has been an amazing year for Forza fans. What will 2020 bring? Well, you know where to look to catch the latest updates.

 

From all of us here at Turn 10 Studios, we thank you for your love of Forza and look forward to spending the next year making it the best one yet. Forrrrzzzzzaaaaaa!