I was excited for Forza Motorsport 5. The promise of the XBox One's next-generation graphics capabilities combined with cutting-edge technologies like Forza's Drivatar system and its much, much more lax attitude towards car customization (both visual and mechanical) made it an appealing title for me. Then I had to write this story.

A mere 200 cars, I could live with. Yeah, variety is always nice, but to be truthful, I'd rather have 200 unique cars representing a broad swath of automotive history than 1,100 cars with dozens and dozens of them containing only slight variations. And I knew that Turn 10 Studios, the folks behind FM5, would come through with some awesome downloadable content packs. What I couldn't get over, though, was the lack of tracks.

It wasn't just the 14 tracks, but the ones that were chosen. Catalunya and Spa-Francorchamps are great picks, and the decision to include Mount Panorama is, as far as I'm concerned, inspired. I even liked the inclusion of Indianapolis Motor Speedway instead of Forza's knockoff version included in past installments. But some of the tracks, like Sebring, Laguna Seca and Road Atlanta almost feel too familiar, while the fictional tracks – Prague and the Bernese Alps – lack any real character at all. And don't even get me going on the insipid, Tilke-designed Yas Marina Circuit.

Most egregious of all, though, was what was missing – the Nürburgring. Germany's famed circuit has been a fixture in console-based racers since Gran Turismo 4 introduced it way back in early 2005. Its absence in Forza 5, particularly after it appeared in FM4, was inexplicable.

Now, though, nearly seven months after FM5 was released, the Ring is back, and better than ever. I spent yesterday afternoon this morning the past 24 hours reacquainting myself with the track while taking a close look at just what Turn 10 Studios has done to make this the best version of the track in console history. I also captured a few videos, showing off iconic sections of the Ring from both the gamer's view and in the replay mode. You can find those at the bottom of the page.

Notes
  • First of all, what took so long? For a start, Turn 10 went back to the drawing board on the beloved circuit, opting to recapture everything with the latest techniques rather than work off of the GPS and photography that was used to render the track in Forza Motorsport 4. Turn 10 Creative Director Dan Greenawalt tells Autoblog that the old methods "pale in comparison" to the new laser scanners. These new technologies allow the smallest cracks in the pavement and the curbing to be captured, creating the most realistic recreation of the track possible.
  • Was the Ring worth the wait? A resounding "Yes!" Forza Motorsport 5's Nürburgring is the finest rendering of the track on any console by a simply huge margin. I sampled the track in Gran Turismo 6 back-to-back with my drive in Forza, and while GT remains a strong offering, the comparison test is simply further reinforcement that FM5 is truly a next-generation offering.
  • I've been virtually racing on the Nürburgring for nearly ten years, and this is far and away the most difficult version of the track to date. The advantage of laser scanning, as we explained in our post on the Long Beach DLC, is that what you're driving on is accurate to the "sub-centimeter" level. You really, really notice the bumpiness when running the Ring in FM5, particularly if you opt to run with the game's steering in the "simulation" setting. As you can see in the video below, I was constantly fighting with the wheel in the run from Adenauer Forst to Bergwerk. Not only do you need to contend with the Ring's notorious bumpiness, but because of the laser scanning, the curbing acts as a double-edged sword. It took only a few laps for me to learn that sections of curbing that I could exploit in FM4 or GT would quickly lead to a collision with the Armco barriers in FM5. Simply put, it's the most challenging racing environment I've ever experienced on a console.
  • As we explained yesterday, it took 30 Turn 10 artists 13,000 man hours to capture the track. There are 26,000 trees spread around the track for crying out loud. Greenawalt called the Ring the team's "most ambitious project ever" owing to its sheer size – over 16 miles for the combined Nordschleife and Grand Prix circuit. That in itself is a first for Forza – offering up the combined challenge of both the old and new circuits simply adds to the feat that is a lap of the Nürburgring.
  • According to Greenawalt, "the Ring has a definite sense of 'place.' It's more than a beautiful place; it feels alive." I'd argue that it's a really beautiful piece of work, but it almost strays into the uncanny valley, particularly when viewed on the replay. I'd blame this largely on the track team's emphasis on lighting and atmospheric details. Looking at the video and images I captured gives a real sense of that, with a lot of natural light and dynamic shadowing. The track really does feel like a different place when running from a section with heavy shade, such as the complex from Aremburg to Adenauer Forst, and then bursting into a largely exposed area, such as Metzgesfeld. It's not photo realistic, if only because the lighting is so dynamic that it feels slightly artificial, but it really is a beautiful place to drive.
It's easy to get on Turn 10's case about the Nürburgring. You can say Greenawalt and Co. released an unfinished game or argue that the trickle of new tracks has been too slow, but at the end of the day, it's worth realizing that the reason for the Ring's absence is because the team was genuinely building it digitally from scratch. It was extremely disappointing that it wasn't ready in time for launch, but after sampling (almost constantly for the past 24 or so hours) the new track in FM5, I'm prepared to say it's well and truly worth the wait. If you're hankering to see just what a next-gen racing game looks like (and drives like) grab your favorite car and get to the Nürburgring. And if you're still on the fence about picking up an XBox One and the game, check out the videos below... they might just help you make up your mind.
Forza Motorsport 5 Nurburgring DLC Cockpit View | Autoblog Short Cuts


Forza Motorsport 5 Nürburgring DLC Replay View | Autoblog Short Cuts


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 36 Comments
      TrippulG3
      • 6 Months Ago
      I don't care how good it looks, if I can't use my Fanatec wheel with it, no sale.
        Shahul X
        • 6 Months Ago
        @TrippulG3
        I think you have to use the Thrustmaster TX1 for it..
          TrippulG3
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Shahul X
          That's pretty much my point. As long as my Fanatec wheel isn't compatible, I'll pass on Forza 5 and the Xbox 1 altogether.
      shawoo
      • 6 Months Ago
      Forza 4 vs Forza 5 Forza 4 you can set up for 3 screens of forward view racing. Vast amount of std cars and tracks and support for the Fanatec CSR elite wheel. By far the best xbox wheel made to date. Forza 5 Only one screen viewing. Lack of std cars, lack of std tracks, and support for only very low end steering wheels. Due to the security chip changing on the x1 vs the 360. Don't let the PR train tell you that the new protocol is the limiting factor. It is only a driver away from allowing the branded Forza wheel from Forza 4 to work.
      John Ralphio
      • 6 Months Ago
      Fantastic track detail. I think I'll wait till Forza 6 comes out.
      enderstc
      • 6 Months Ago
      I only had time to run the ring once last night and I have to say it is truly fantastic. The detail is incredible and the sound is awesome. It really is the current pinnacle of virtual racing right now. I, too, wish it had better wheel support but when you just want to sit down and race real quick you can't beat it.
      Shawn Porter
      • 6 Months Ago
      I played it last night and really aside from Top Gear about my only real exposure to the track in a long while. I was struck with how damn narrow it was, it truly is a tough course. I think Turn 10 did a great job here and it's great that it is out in this detail. Yeah it's more than a few months "late" but it's free and for a course of this magnitude and effort required I think that's commendable.
      Lamborandon
      • 6 Months Ago
      yawn, forza sucks
        WindsWilling
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Lamborandon
        It doesn't suck, but it's nothing special really at all. Project Cars, Drive Club, and I'm sure GT7 will outshine the forza series yet again.
      Lamborandon
      • 6 Months Ago
      RIP good racing games ... Hot Pursuit 2010 is the last good car game, all these others suck and are boring
      karlInSanDiego
      • 6 Months Ago
      Now if only Nurburgring had a decent line of sight. This track is the closest real life has to a video game, given that the faster you go, the less chance there is to come even close to getting your racing lines right. Barely 2.5 car widths wide, every turn blind, and so long even after 100 or more goes, you've barely memorized some sections well enough to know proper gear selection, entry speed, and line. It's a challenging track, but it's more about memorization and luck (not placing a tire off), than a track you can race well at if you know racing lines. Racing against others on this track is just a joke. Not the games' faults, just unracable without taking a banzai mentality.
        SloopJohnB
        • 6 Months Ago
        @karlInSanDiego
        A man's gotta know his limitations. The Ring has been around for a very long time and is a challenging venue for those very reasons. Go big or go home.
        Josh
        • 6 Months Ago
        @karlInSanDiego
        lol no one's asking you to ride the mechanical bull either; just stay at the bar and finish your Zima.
      WindsWilling
      • 6 Months Ago
      How many days until Autoblog finally posts pics/vids from Drive Club weather now? I'm guessing 2-3 at least. Oh, and yes. Drive Club looks insane, making F5 and FH2 look dated instantly. Hell, Polyphony is probably actually going to have a rough time beating them with GT7.
        shawoo
        • 6 Months Ago
        @WindsWilling
        I understand your excitement for Drive Club however that is an arcade racer where as Forza is more of a sim game. and I have seen the beta of Drive Club and is not nearly as great as you think it looks. F5 is worlds apart better looking. However I am no fan of F5 due to the lack of Fanatec support. Unless you have played Drive Club in person I would not be making those bold statements.
        Shogmaster
        • 6 Months Ago
        @WindsWilling
        Having seen all 3 @ E3 yesterday, I can safely say that you are looking through fanboy goggles. Don't get me wrong. DC looks very nice. but it's half the frame rate of F5 so it's less taxing to do. And I think FH2 looks better than DC due to more vibrant colors. DC's background scenery textures looked a bit muted. And the weather effect of FH2 was ridiculous.
      Shahul X
      • 6 Months Ago
      I played it this morning...best looking track on any sim racer...the detail is ridiculous
      ayeco
      • 6 Months Ago
      Looks very, very good. Sounds very, very bad.
        SloopJohnB
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ayeco
        Concur. That was my take on it when I finally got around to playing the videos.
      Jake
      • 6 Months Ago
      Why do both videos have to play at the same time? They won't pause. It is getting to where I don't come to this site as often because the website crashes or doesn't work right. No other website I visit has these problems.
        SloopJohnB
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Jake
        Neither one plays on my iMac until I push the arrow. Nothing wrong with autoblog.
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