With features like assisted steering and a driving line telling you how to approach each corner, the Forza Motorsport series has always excelled at giving newcomers the tools to overcome racing barriers. And with the latest iteration in the franchise, Turn 10 Studios is aiming to let players overcome the greatest barrier of all: how to continue playing Forza when you're not actually playing Forza.
The approach? A cloud-powered upgrade to the Drivatar technology that debuted way back in 2005's original Forza Motorsport. In this latest game, Drivatar is constantly keeping track of your driving habits: how aggressive you are in the straights, how prone you are to cutting corners, and whether or not you're afraid to trade a little paint when the situation calls for it.
Forza 5 takes all of this data and sends it to the cloud after every race. In doing so, Forza 5 is storing a virtual representation of every single player in the world. If you play Forza 5, you'll have your own doppelganger living in the cloud. And the more you play, Turn 10 says, the more accurate that doppelganger will be.
Here's the most interesting part: these cloud-powered representations of human players are the drivers that make up every event in the game, whether it's an online match that needs to fill out a few extra slots or a single-player race deep into your career mode. That means you'll never be racing against vanilla AI. Every driver you encounter in the game is based on the actual driving habits of another human being.
The game does this by pulling data from the cloud and matching other players' skills with your own. Turn 10 insists that you'll be given plenty of control over what types of drivers you're matched up against, with various settings and toggles to fine-tune the matchmaking in terms of both skill and driving styles.
In doing all of this, Turn 10 is aiming to create a more human driving experience. It wants to move past the days where every AI you face just sort of blends into the other. Instead, Turn 10's goal is to let you face off against a grid of racers who each boast their own unique personalities and eccentricities.
So what happens once you've turned off the system and your Drivatar finds his or herself downloaded into Xboxes across the world? Well, you'll get paid for it, of course. Every race that your virtual doppelganger takes part in will earn you in-game currency to buy new cars and upgrades. You may be lying in bed reading a book, but you'll be making sweet, sweet virtual credits in the process.
For more on Forza Motorsport, check out GameSpot's video feature about the history of the franchise.'