If there's one thing Forza Motorsport has always done a good job of simulating--besides, you know, the actual driving--it's the rags-to-riches character arc of an increasingly wealthy billionaire. You start off with a modest little city car like the Nissan Micra or Ford Ka, and then proceed to build up a garage full of faster and more luxurious supercars. At least, that's how the career mode progression has worked in previous Forza titles. With Forza 5, Turn 10 is aiming to mix up the routine.
Forza 5's career mode is no longer focused on starting with cheap cars and working your way up the economic ladder. Instead, it's a sort of choose-your-own-adventure novel spanning numerous styles and eras throughout the history of motorsports. You can begin in any of eight leagues, which are basically categories like exotics, vintage, and sport compact. But within those eight leagues are 42 much more specialized events. Sound confusing? We'll explain.
Take the sport compact league, for example. Housed within this umbrella you'll find events such as hot hatches or rally sport. Turn 10 describes these events as mini-career modes in themselves--each spanning enough races to last roughly 90 minutes--which have been designed to let you progress all the way through with a single car. Sure, you can still mix it up with different cars that fit the event restrictions, but you're no longer forced to say goodbye to a car that you've grown attached to once those more powerful models begin filling the starting grid.
Once you've completed an event, you can choose any other you'd like--there's no predefined event arc. Turn 10 wants you to be able to immerse yourself within a family of cars, and then jump to whatever strikes your fancy once that event is complete. You can bounce from demanding supercars to sensible coupes right back up to hulking American muscle--the order doesn't matter. Add in Top Gear commentary spread through each event, and you're not only learning how these different families of cars handle, but also hearing Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May explain the cultural significance at the same time.
Of course, there is still a progression to all of this. You're still earning credits, buying new cars to add to your garage, and spending that money on performance upgrades. All of that is still there. But given the career mode's more open-ended nature, you'll be leveling at a more steady rate--what Turn 10 describes as a "metronomic" cadence of level-ups hitting roughly once per hour of gameplay. It's their way of saying they don't think that exotic league you played through at hour 20 of your career mode should take eons longer to level up in than the grand touring league you chose right at the start of the game.
We're eager to see how this idea pans out. The advantage to the old system is obvious: starting with cheap cars and working your way up to the fancier ones provides a nice, clear progression system to follow. Can Turn 10 keep your attention with this more free-form approach? We'll find out later this year.