E3 2017: Forza 7 vs. Project CARS 2 – The matchup preview

Microsoft Studios
Microsoft Studios /

Forza 7 and Project CARS 2 show two sides of the racing game aimed at simulation. We put them to the test from the show floor of E3 2017.

As someone who used to be dedicated to playing Gran Turismo 3 every weekend, it took me aback when the Forza series eventually took over the former series’ spot as the top dog in the gaming industry. Now games like Forza 7 looks to branch out with new partnerships to expand upon its regularly stellar gameplay, while Project CARS 2 doubles down on its depth of focus.

I was invited to a Microsoft Showcase during E3 2017, where I had the opportunity to check out the new 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS just a few meters from the location it was first revealed to the world. Additionally, I got to check out Bandai Namco’s booth to try out a multitude of races, including traditional and rally tracks.

Sony did not provide us with booth appointments, nor were we able to book a scheduled demo through the PlayStation Experience app, so the E3 2017 racing comparison will compare what Xbox and Bandai Namco are up to.

Forza 7 storm screenshot
Microsoft Studios /

Forza 7

Testing out the new Dubai track, I got a sense that Forza 7 is as refined as ever. Showcasing a stunning array of vehicles on a 4K resolution screen, it’s easy to see why Microsoft Studios is pushing this game as their example of what the Xbox One X can do; the game looks gorgeous.

With a track as winding as the sands are bright, maneuvering the 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS was a delight. This isn’t strictly an arcade racer, so you still need to brake properly and cut into your turns from as best an angle as possible. AI drivers in Forza 7 continue to operate like proper racers, yet it felt too easy to peel away from them down the track.

Other tracks available from the demo featured that dynamic weather system bolstered with Forza 7, reflecting light in a splendid manner. Particle effects for things like rain splashing off cars’ chassis’ look as realistic as ever, showing Turn 10 Studios’ efforts to continuously improve upon the high bar they set each year.

Project CARS 2 screenshot
Bandai Namco /

Project CARS 2

Meanwhile, Bandai Namco has been working more on becoming realistic over strict gameplay visual performance, although they’re not too shabby, either. I also got to sit in on a presentation from Andy Tudor (Project CARS 2’s creative director) and Stephen Viljoen as they went further into detail about the changes coming to their second title.

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I got the chance to check out two of the tracks touted to be the “largest track roster of any game on consoles.” The first was a traditional track race, albeit with aggressive AI that came with a rolling start. Many of the vehicles were content on pushing others to get into early cuts.

The Live Track 3.0 engineering system will offer a better physics-based weather system, including weather differences of dry and rainy on different sides of the track. Puddles even dry up over time, with courses such as Long Beach even laser scanned to get as close to 100% accuracy as possible.

I also had the opportunity to dip into rally racers, which seem just as floaty and difficult to control as I remember. Those tracks are a lot tighter, though, with someone calling your directions over the headset. The controls transitioned well to a gamepad this time around, acting as a huge improvement over this game’s predecessor.

Project CARS 2 screenshot
Bandai Namco /

The Comparisons

For those who are looking to go heavily into career gameplay options, Project CARS 2 has a lot to offer. Not only are lifetime goals doubled this time around, you can lengthen or shorten your career mode, work your way to being a company driver, as well as race in mixed-car races. Plus, those hoping to make a side career playing this game are given a ton of live stream and eSports options backed by Slightly Mad Studios.

Forza 7, though, looks to make an impression with its driving gameplay systems. Yes, Project CARS 2 has details down to tire PSI (as well as physics for tire damage over time), but Forza 7 still has a more realistic set of AI drivers. Plus, the Drivatar system continues to bolster gameplay overall.

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Project CARS 2 is pushing for how the tracks and vehicles operate on a physics-based perspective while strengthening their track variety and vehicle offerings. Forza 7 looks to show off strong visuals, a tight UI and a partnership with luxury car manufacturers like Porsche. Both games have their strengths and weakness, and both are worth it for racing fans to check out.