Fri. Jun 14th, 2024
Forza Experience Microsoft Store Cover

So! Yesterday I was in London, and among many other awesome shops, I visited the Microsoft Store in Oxford Circus. I’d never been before, and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The layout was really large and open, similar in many ways to the Apple Store, which isn’t all that surprising. A lot of the floor space was dedicated to laptops and computing products, however there were a few dedicated Xbox areas. And in one such area on the ground floor, was the Forza Experience at the Microsoft Store.

Xbox Sections

Before I describe the actual racing experience, I wanted to talk a bit about what to expect from the Xbox sections. Now, I won’t lie, there aren’t that many things to look at in the store. The space is used in a way that really highlights individual items. So instead of racks of controllers, you have display shelves with one of each design. There was also a really cool installation that showed a deconstructed Elite controller. I really loved looking at that one, as it was fascinating to see just how many pieces go into building it.

Deconstructed Xbox Elite controller
I really love the neat way that this was displayed.

When it came to the controllers, they didn’t actually have as many as I expected. There were some really cool designs, but considering they were display pieces, I was expecting more unique ones. They didn’t have many limited edition ones, or even their full range of standard controllers. However, there was still a decent range, and they looked so sleek sat there on the shelf. They also did have a display piece of the limited edition Tune Squad controller, which looked awesome.

Tune Squad Xbox controller
How fun are the colours on this?

In the upstairs area, there was another dedicated Xbox section. This once again had some controllers on display, although they were the same designs as downstairs. But it also had some Series X consoles plugged in and ready to play. It gave customers a chance to get a feel for the console, and to see the 4k game resolution. The section also showcased the many games available through Game Pass. As regular readers know, I’m a huge advocate for Game Pass, and I think it’s the best value subscription that there is. I thought the store had a good range of Xbox products.

Forza Experience Microsoft Store, Xbox controllers
Everything was very much in keeping with the Xbox aesthetic

Forza Experience at the Microsoft Store

Now this was cool. One of the first things I noticed when I stepped into the store was the huge supercar in the corner. It was hooked up to a TV that was displaying Forza Motorsport 7, and there was a queue area, so I assumed it was one of those £5 per ride things that you occasionally see in shopping centres. However, I was thrilled to realise that it was actually free! I spoke to the staff (who were really lovely) and got myself a lanyard. The experience was running every other hour for the first 8 people who got themselves a lanyard. Whilst I waited for my turn, I marvelled at the beauty of the car. It was a McLaren Senna in a gorgeous shade of blue, and I couldn’t wait to ride in it. The staff were careful with hygiene, and were wiping it down between people.

Forza Experience at the Microsoft Store, lanyard.
I may be wearing a mask, but you can tell how much I’m smiling.

Whilst watching others ‘ride’ in it, I saw that it was hooked up to a hydraulic system. That meant that the car moved slightly along with your steering wheel, and I knew it would really immerse you in the game. Finally, it was my turn, and I eagerly slipped under the gull wing door, and into the driver’s seat. An employee explained the controls, and it was pretty simple. Essentially, it worked just like a real car, but an automatic rather than a manual. He told me that the steering wheel was pretty sensitive, and I groaned internally, because I knew I’d over-steer. I’m used to cheap second-hand cars that require plenty of force to move them, not state-of-the-art racing cars that respond to my slightest touch. Nevertheless, I nodded in understanding, and grinned as the game loaded. I was ready.

Forza Experience at the Microsoft Store
I still can’t believe that I got to sit in such a cool car!

The Race Itself

Now, in my excitement I forgot to check how long the ride lasted for, but it felt like 2-3 minutes. The game very usefully had arrows to show you the racing line, and to inform you when to brake and accelerate. You’d think this would make it easy, but actually following the arrows was harder than you’d expect. I’ll be completely honest, I sucked at first. It was hard to strike the balance between when to brake and how long for, or between under or over steering. A couple of times I even crashed (lightly). I was embarrassed about all the people watching me fail.

Forza Experience Microsoft Store, crashing
I was really struggling to follow the racing line, and kept hitting the wall.

But after a while, something in my brain clicked, and I started to get a feel for the car. I forgot that I was in the middle of the Forza Experience at the Microsoft Store. As far as I was concerned, I was on a race track. And I wanted to win. There were no other cars on the track, nor was there a leader-board, so I was only racing against myself. But I was determined to do my best. So I followed the arrows. I braked quickly and sharply, turned the corner neatly, and hopped straight back on to the accelerator. I was in my element. Somewhere around my second lap, the timer ended, and my race was up.

Back to reality, the employee came to open the door and let me out. I stepped out with a huge grin on my face, from the amazing racing experience. He told me I’d managed to drive 3.7 miles, which was marginally better than the average of 3.4 – 3.6 that most people scored. I was really happy, as racing games aren’t my forte, and I’d made all those mistakes at the beginning.

Driving along the racing line
Once I got over my initial hurdles, I was actually pretty good.

Overall

All in all, I really enjoyed my trip there, especially all the Xbox stuff. I loved the clean and open layout of the store, and it was enjoyable to walk around. Of course, the standout for me was the Forza Experience at the Microsoft Store. It was something totally unique, and a really special way to experience the game. Not to mention how awesome it felt just to sit in a car like the McLaren Senna. If any of you are ever in Oxford Circus, I’d highly recommend taking some time to visit.

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By Screen Hype

Hi! I'm Melika Jeddi, a content writer and aspiring author. I've created Screen Hype to share my unique brand of entertaining articles with the world, and to create a fun space that everyone can feel a part of :)