Forza 5 captures the art of driving in video game form very successfully. Because of that, if you want to drive the game to best effect – especially with its many driving assists switched off – you need to do so with some finesse. Sure, you can still play it in a typical video gaming, mash the buttons, yank the joystick kind of way. But to be blunt, if you do this you'll be an average player at best – and will probably need driving assists up the wazoo.
So how should you drive? Before we answer that, let's get the obvious question out of the way.
What's the best car in Forza 5?
This is a common question, and the short answer is – the one you like driving the most. Out of the gate, choose a car that you like the look of, and just get used to driving it. The game automatically boosts or detunes cars depending on the level you're racing at, so they're all very competitive.
If you reach a point where you want to be highly competitive and challenge the best players' times, check the leaderboards. That'll tell you which cars the top drivers are using to achieve the quickest lap times. But just remember – many of the top drivers spend a huge amount of time tuning their cars for specific tracks, so while the car they're driving is competitive, it doesn't mean you'll automatically win every race if you buy it.
Ultimately, the best car is the one that best suits your driving style, so have fun, buy cars and experiment. That's what this game is all about, after all.
So how do you master this driving game?
Forza 5 gives you a quick taste of driving when you first start it up. This is its easiest, most-assisted setting and gives you a feel of driving the game. Once you're done, it's onto the proper driving experience. But before you do anything, take a good look at the assists. Depending on your skill level, you'll need some, but not others. There's a balance here, as you can really boost your earnings by turning a lot of them off, but you don't want to turn so many off that you keep crashing and don't ever make the podium. Here's what's what:
Recommended: Braking Line
If you're unfamiliar with Forza's tracks, you might want to turn on Full Suggested Line, but for the most part, the Braking Line does a perfectly fine job of telling you the most important information about an upcoming corner, and you can use your eyes (and mini map) to figure out the rest, thus netting you a nice percentage boost. The Braking Line is not infallible, however, Depending on your class and car, sometimes you'll find you have to brake at the beginning of the yellow marker, and sometimes you can brake deep into the red. When you start a race, brake on the yellow into the first corner, and that'll give you an indication of your car's braking vs the game's recommendation, and you can then adjust accordingly through the next few corners until you've figured out the optimal braking point on the marker.
Recommended: ABS On
Assisted braking is not the best option. The game tries its best to help you, but it's just too conservative and often applies the brakes during cornering maneuvers, cutting your speed at a crucial time while you watch the car in front of you take off down the next straight.
If you have the Braking Line on, you really don't need to have braking assist on. If you're having issues with braking, pay more attention to the Braking Line and brake earlier.
ABS Off is for experts who really know how to work the controls to best effect. Until you become familiar with the trigger biting point and can work the controls very delicately, no ABS will result in many uncontrolled slides.
So ABS On is the best thing – it'll help you stop very quickly while under control.
Downgrade to Normal if necessary, but you really should be learning to play the game with Simulation steering. It gives you complete control of the car, and avoids occasional weirdness like when you're trying something unconventional that the game thinks is a mistake and then attempts to correct.
If you're having trouble with steering, be gentler with your inputs. Forza has exceptionally detailed joystick controls, and waggling from side to side violently will unsettle the car. As does over-correcting (applying opposite lock on the joystick if you're sliding). Try to remember that you don't have to use the full lock of the joystick all the time – particularly along straights to correct your line. Be smooth and consistent with your movements, and your car will act the same.
Traction and Stability Control
Like with braking assists, STM can sometimes kill you with kindness. It tries to keep your car from spinning out by applying the brakes to individual wheels. This can be very useful, but it does mean that when you corner on the limit, oftentimes the system will kick in to correct the slide before you can, and that process will result in a sometimes significant loss of momentum. If you find yourself spinning consistently, the biggest recommendation is to be gentler with the controls. But if that's not working, then obviously turn on STM until you learn to drive with a little more finesse.
Traction control, like ABS, is useful to help you not spin the wheels too much – something that becomes increasingly problematic as you begin to drive more powerful cars. If you turn it off, listen to what the accelerator trigger is telling you. Bigger vibration is big wheelspin. Lesser vibration is lesser wheelspin, and no vibration is... well, you know where this is going. Basically, if you're feeling vibration under your accelerator finger, back off slightly until you regain traction.
But unless you're an expert, it's worth having TCS on, as it's a huge help, and doesn't cost you much of a bonus.
If you're starting out, I suggest going to auto, as you've got so much other stuff to learn, adding gear shifting might be too much to handle. However, you'll be surprised at how quickly and easily it is to pick up manual shifting. Sure, there will be times when you're bouncing off the rev limiter, or coming out of a 2nd gear corner in 4th, but you'll learn.
The best thing to do is practice with gears on timed laps against ghost cars – particularly on short tracks. The repetition of learning lines and optimal cornering gears really helps give you experience that translates to general driving. Once you've mastered manual shifting, you'll boost your performance by a quite considerable degree. That's because the game doesn't know when to hang onto a gear, or when to downshift coming into a corner. But you do.
Damage, Fuel and Tire Wear
Unless you're having huge difficulties, you should be able to drive with these settings effectively. In Sim mode, it's perfectly possible to doorhandle other cars, nudge them out of the way, and have minor collisions, but if you're smashing your car to bits, you should probably practice a little more and learn to treat the controls more delicately.
A common cause of race-ruining damage is running into a car in front of you. That's understandable, as sometimes the AI over-brakes, or you simply can't see everything. And that's what the rewind button is for. As long as you use it sparingly, the bonus you get from having Simulation on should greatly exceed the penalty you pay for occasionally using rewind because you nailed someone and broke something vital.
Forza 5 incorporates some quite amazing feedback into the joypad. Many don't realize this, and just think its bumps, rattles and vibrations are there to enhance the action. Which is true – but they do so much more than that.
When coming into a corner, the temptation is to pull the brake trigger fully. However, you don't always need to do that. The brake behaves like a brake in a real car, so just imagine what would happen if every time you needed to brake you pushed your foot to the floor as hard and fast as you could. That's basically what you're doing in Forza.
It takes a bit of getting used to, but if you need to slow down for a corner, don't necessarily slam on the anchors. Scrub some speed off with a half-depressed trigger, which will keep the car more balanced into the corner and avoid loading up the front suspension.
In similar fashion to the brake trigger, you don't always want to have your finger to the plastic. Sure, much of the time you do – but learn to be a little more gentle with the controls during maneuvers. Ease off rather than completely lift off – especially when you feel the car begin to go out of shape. In most driving games when this happens, you just steer through it and regain control. Not in Forza 5. Unless you have all the driving assists turned on, you're likely going to spin out.
Also, like braking, and as previously mentioned above, the vibration of the trigger tells you what the tires are doing. Excessive vibration means sliding or wheelspin, which means no grip, which means trouble turning. If you're wheelspinning, ease off on the gas until the vibrations go away, and while sliding, unless you're drifting like a pro, ease off on the gas until things smooth out (probably while steering into the slide) to get yourself back on course.
Guess what. Steering is a sensitive thing too. Yank from left to right, and the car will jerk from side to side. Do it a little more gently, without using full lock, and the car will weave. Smooth movements make for smooth cornering. Always remember that.
If you're cornering and you feel the back end of the car let go, rather than going to full opposite lock instantly, dial it in a little more gently. You still need to be lightning quick, but don't just crank the stick right over and hold it there. Instead, crank it over, but immediately dial it back to about midway between neutral and full lock. You'll notice that rather than over-correcting and having the car lurch in the other direction and spinning out, it'll instead continue to slide in a more neutral fashion, and you can then dial the stick back to regain control smoothly.
It does take some practice, but as long as you're aware of what's going on, you can start playing around and working up some steering finesse. The problem with many players is that they just don't understand this subtlety, and tend to be very ham-fisted with the controls. As you work at being more precise and delicate, you'll also develop the mental bandwidth and muscle memory to know how much lock to dial up, and not only will you gain full control of your car, you'll actually be able to play around with it, thus opening the door to incredible drifts and spectacular maneuvers that will seriously impress your friends when you upload them as movies.
Car Types and Steering Behavior
Since Forza 5 does such a great job in replicating car behavior, I thought it'd be a good idea to offer a quick primmer about car types and handling behavior. Many of you will likely already know this stuff, so if you do, get thee gone and head out to the track (or check out the Achievements List and Car Checklist below). But if you don't, here's how car layouts affect their handling.
Front Wheel Drive
There's a reason why most cars are front wheel drive – and that's because it's the safest and most predictable setup in terms of handling. Unless you're a ham-fisted oaf, when an FF car runs out of grip, it'll simply understeer – which means it'll keep going in a straight line. This is the opposite of a rear wheel drive car, which when it runs out of grip has a tendency to oversteer – the rear of the car tries to overtake the front, resulting in a potential spin.
The last thing you want while cornering in an FF car is any kind of loss of grip, as this results in serious understeer. So to avoid that, approach a corner, brake hard until you start to turn into the corner, and then gently ease off as you turn in. Then get back on the gas – gently – using your finger to feel for a loss of grip. If you feel vibrations, back off a bit and then get back on the gas.
Something to remember – if you're cornering under acceleration and you lift off the gas, you can cause something called lift-off oversteer, which is the back end breaks away like a RWD car. If that happens, steer into the slide, get back on the gas and power through it.
If it looks like your car is about to go off the road, you can "gas it" - punching the accelerator while steering into the corner can helps it grip and get around the bend. However, this is inefficient and should only be used in an emergency, and not as a regular cornering tactic.
Rear Wheel Drive
RWD cars are the most fun to drive since you can slide them around the corners, and even drift them if you've got the skills. Cars of this type have a natural tendency to oversteer - which means when you reach the limit of traction while cornering, the back of the car wants to break loose and spin the car out. Whenever a car slides in this way, you should steer into the direction of the slide until the car begins to straighten out. As you become more proficient at driving, you should be able to catch the car during a slide and dial up enough lock that the car continues to slide, but is also cornering on the correct radius. Welcome to the world of drifting.
The best way to drive a rear wheel powered car is with respect. Brake in a straight line, get off the brakes and turn into the corner, get the car balanced and then when the car is settled, get on the gas and power out of the corner.
If you want to break traction immediately, head into the corner with your foot on the gas and dial up full lock while lifting off on the accelerator, and then as the car tips into the corner, immediately get back on the gas and the rear wheels will break lose. This isn't the best way to drive a car, but it's the most fun way for sure.
All Wheel Drive
AWD cars have complex handling characteristics, with a tendency to understeer when entering a corner and oversteer when exiting.
When heading into a corner, you can brake late and lift off quite aggressively, which will cause oversteer. Get on the gas and steer into the slide and you'll corner successfully. Do that same maneuver more gently, and you'll keep full grip, which will give you optimal cornering and exit speed.
While it's great fun sliding through a corner with your car's wheels spinning, it's not optimal, unless you're in a drift contest. Every revolution of the car's wheel while spinning is a wasted one - if that wheel was gripping the car would be moving forward at a much quicker rate, and that's the key to racing. No wasted power. No wasted grip.
To drive a car efficiently, you have to brake early so you can get on the power through the corner and accelerate out of the corner at the limit of the car's grip – but not exceeding it. Also, use the full width of the road while exiting a corner, which will create the smoothest line through that corner, and enable you to get on the gas sooner.
If you're an over-achiever, this is the list you want.
Apex Ace Earn 300 perfect Turn scores 20
Artisan Tuner Earn 30,000 credits from the community using your tune setups 20
Born Competitor Earn 110 medals in Multiplayer races 25
Born Leader Lead for a total of 200 miles in Multiplayer races 10
Brand Loyal Reach Affinity level 25 with any car manufacturer 10
Centurion Reach Driver Level 100 25
Championship Legend Complete 40 Championship Series. 25
Colour of Money Earn 30,000 credits from the community using your designs 20
Committed Reach Driver Level 20 20
Die-Hard Reach Affinity level 25 with any 2 Car Manufacturers 15
Eat My Dust Lead for a total of 350 miles in Multiplayer races 15
Factory Legend Reach Affinity level 25 with any 8 car manufacturers 25
Fanatic Reach Affinity level 25 with any 4 car manufacturers 20
First Five Earn 5 medals in Multiplayer races 5
Follow Me Lead for a total of 50 miles in Multiplayer races 5
Forza Fifty Reach Driver Level 50 25
Forza Lifestyle Reach Driver Level 10 15
Forza Triple Crown Complete the Le Mans Gold, Grand Prix Gold and Indy Gold achievements 20
Full Medal Jacket Earn 325 medals in Multiplayer races 25
Gold Bars Earn 300 gold medals in Career races 25
Gold Digger Earn 20 gold medals in Career races 10
Gold Fever Earn 10 gold medals in Career races 10
Gold Medalist Earn 5 gold medals in Career races 5
Gold Rush Earn 30 gold medals in Career races 15
Golden Earn 50 gold medals in Career races 20
Golden Century Earn 100 gold medals in Career races 20
Golden Standard Earn 400 gold medals in Career races 25
Gone Viral Get 100 downloads across all of your shared photos 20
Hall of Famer Reach Driver Level 150 25
Heavy Medal Earn 200 medals in Multiplayer races 25
Lead Dog Lead for a total of 100 miles in Multiplayer races 25
League King Complete 25 Championship Series 20
League Leader Complete 15 Championship Series 15
Major League Complete 10 Championship Series 10
Master Tuner Earn 15,000 credits from the community using your tune setups 15
Medal Head Earn 70 medals in Multiplayer races 20
Movin' Up Earn 125 perfect Pass scores 20
Museum Quality Earn 15,000 credits from the community using your designs 15
My Kind of Car Reach Affinity level 1 with any car manufacturer 5
New Wallpaper Get 50 downloads across all of your shared photos 10
Pace Setter Lead for a total of 500 miles in Multiplayer races 20
Painting By Numbers Earn 1,000 credits from the community using your paint jobs 10
Pedal to the Medal Earn 10 medals in Multiplayer races 10
Pot o' Gold Earn 150 gold medals in Career races 25
Precious Medals Earn 90 medals in Multiplayer races 20
Pro Tuner Earn 1,000 credits from the community using your tune setups 10
Professional Reach Driver Level 30 20
Pure Gold Earn 70 gold medals in Career races 20
Rarified Air Complete the Spring Break, Red and Bleu, and Snake Bit achievements 25
Rubbing is Racing Earn 30 medals in Multiplayer races 15
Semi-Pro Reach Driver Level 5 10
Series Sweep Complete 5 Championship Series 5
Sidewinder Earn 20 perfect Drift scores 20
Slipstreamer Earn 20 perfect Drafting scores 20
Start Your Engine Reach Driver Level 1 5
The Big 5-0 Earn 50 medals in Multiplayer races 20
Trading Paint Earn 20 medals in Multiplayer races 10
Up and Comer Reach Driver Level 3 10
Veteran Reach Driver Level 40 20
Welcome to Forza Motorsport Complete the very first race 5
Finally, if you want to know which cars Forza enables you to drive, here they are!
2010 Abarth 500 esseesse
2001 Acura Integra Type-R
2007 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA Stradale
1971 AMC Javelin-AMX
2013 Ariel Atom 500 V8
2006 Aston Martin #007 Aston Martin Racing DBR9
1964 Aston Martin DB5
2008 Aston Martin DBS
2010 Aston Martin One-77
2012 Aston Martin Vanquish
2012 Audi #1 Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron quattro
2010 Audi R8 5.2 Coup FSI quattro
2010 Audi R8 Coup5.2 FSI quattro
2013 Audi R8 CoupV10 plus 5.2 FSI quattro
2011 Audi RS 3 Sportback
2006 Audi RS 4
2011 Audi RS 5 Coup
2013 Audi RS 7
2013 Audi S4
1983 Audi Sport Quattro
2010 Audi TT RS Coup
2009 BMW #92 Rahal Letterman Racing M3 GT2
2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe
1973 BMW 2002 Turbo
1981 BMW M1
1991 BMW M3
1997 BMW M3
2005 BMW M3
2008 BMW M3
2003 BMW M5
2012 BMW M5
2011 BMW X5 M
2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is
2011 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
1987 Buick Regal GNX
2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
2013 Chevrolet #1 Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12
2013 Chevrolet #12 Team Penske Dallara DW12
2011 Chevrolet #4 Corvette Racing ZR1
2002 Chevrolet Camaro 35th Anniversary SS
1990 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z
1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe
1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS-454
1960 Chevrolet Corvette
1967 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 427
2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
1970 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1
1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS 454
1969 Chevrolet Nova SS 396
2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8
2011 Citroen DS3 Racing
2012 Dallara #28 Andretti Autosport DW12
2013 Dallara #9 Target Ganassi Dallara DW12
2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392
2012 Dodge Charger SRT8
2005 Dodge SRT4 ACR
1999 Dodge Viper GTS ACR
2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR
1998 Eagle Talon TSi Turbo
1976 Ferrari #1 Scuderia 312T2
1998 Ferrari #12 Risi Competizione F333 SP
2011 Ferrari #62 Risi Competizione F458 Italia
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa
2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia
2010 Ferrari 458 Italia
1991 Ferrari 512 TR
2011 Ferrari 599 GTO
2008 Ferrari California
2003 Ferrari Challenge Stradale
2002 Ferrari Enzo Ferrari
2012 Ferrari F12berlinetta
1994 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta
1987 Ferrari F40
1995 Ferrari F50
1984 Ferrari GTO
2011 Ford #5 Ford Performance Racing FG Falcon
1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
2014 Ford Fiesta ST
2009 Ford Focus RS
2013 Ford Focus ST
2005 Ford Ford GT
1966 Ford GT40 MkII
1995 Ford Mustang Cobra R
1985 Ford RS200 Evolution
2007 Ford Shelby GT500
2013 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500
1993 Ford SVT Cobra R
2000 Ford SVT Cobra R
1991 GMC Syclone
2012 Hennessey Venom
2011 Holden #1 Toll Holden Racing Team Commodore VE
2011 Holden HSV GTS
2013 Honda #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara DW12
2013 Honda #9 Target Chip Ganassi Dallara DW12
1997 Honda Civic Type R
2004 Honda Civic Type-R
2007 Honda Civic Type-R
1992 Honda NSX-R
2005 Honda NSX-R
2009 Honda S2000 CR
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track
2012 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
2011 Infiniti IPL G Coupe
1961 Jaguar E-type S1
2012 Jaguar XKR-S
2009 Jeep Cherokee SRT8
2011 Kia Ceed
2011 Koenigsegg Agera
2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4
1988 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 QV
1997 Lamborghini Diablo SV
2011 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera
1967 Lamborghini Miura P400
2010 Lamborghini Murcielago LP 670-4 SV
1982 Lancia 037 Stradale
1986 Lancia Delta S4
2012 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged
2009 Lexus IS F
2010 Lexus LFA
2009 Lotus 2-Eleven
1971 Lotus Elan Sprint
2012 Lotus Exige S
2013 Lotus E21
2010 Maserati Gran Turismo S
1991 Mazda #55 787B
2010 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3
1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata
2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata
1997 Mazda RX-7
2011 Mazda RX-8 R3
1976 McLaren #11 Team McLaren M23
1993 McLaren F1
2011 McLaren MP4-12C
2013 McLaren P1
1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II
1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe
2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series
2013 Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG
2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR
2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
1970 Mercury Cougar Eliminator
2009 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works
1965 MINI Cooper S
1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX
1999 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI GSR
2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR
1994 Nissan 240SX SE
1970 Nissan Datsun 510
2003 Nissan Fairlady Z
2012 Nissan GT-R Black Edition
2000 Nissan Silvia Spec-R
1971 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R
1993 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec
1997 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec
1968 Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds 442
2012 Pagani Huayra
2009 Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster
2009 Peugeot #9 Peugeot Sport Total 908
2011 Peugeot 308 GTI
1971 Plymouth Cuda 426 Hemi
1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD-455
1969 Pontiac GTO Judge
2010 Renault Megane RS 250
2003 Renault Sport Clio V6
1987 RUF CTR Yellowbird
1995 RUF CTR2
2011 RUF Rt 12 S
2004 Saleen S7
2012 Scion tC
1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C
1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe
2013 Subaru BRZ
1998 Subaru Impreza 22B STi
2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi
2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
2011 Subaru WRX STI
1994 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205
2003 Toyota Celica SS-I
2013 Toyota GT86
1995 Toyota MR2 GT
1985 Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT Apex
1998 Toyota Supra RZ
2005 TVR Sagaris
2012 Vauxhall Astra VXR
2013 Viper #91 SRT Motorsport GTS-R
2013 Viper GTS
1963 Volkswagen Beetle
1995 Volkswagen Corrado VR6
1992 Volkswagen Golf Gti 16v Mk2
2010 Volkswagen Golf R
2003 Volkswagen Golf R32
1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
2011 Volkswagen Scirocco R