After Microsoft made a much-publicised u-turn on its decision to have the Xbox One require an always-on internet connection, one of the questions that remained in the minds of all those who saw and played Forza Motorsport 5 at E3 was, "How will Drivatars work when you're offline?"
Drivatars are one of the next-generation Forza's most impressive new features. The game takes data from a player every time he or she takes part in a race and uploads that information to the player's unique Drivatar in the cloud. Then, when that player is not around, their virtual double continues to race other players around the world, earning points for the owner in the process, depending on how well it does.
Instead of artificially intelligent opponents throughout the game, as with previous iterations, you will always race against Drivatars, therefore making each race different and much more like a multiplayer experience.
However, as the feature it is entirely cloud-based, with the game sucking updated Drivatars down from the net when needed, how does a console that's not persistently connected to the internet build a library of opponents to race against?
Dan Greenawalt, studio head at developer Turn10, has the answer. You will need an internet connection. At least initially.
"So when you first boot up the game, we're going to ask you to log in," he explained to IGN in an interview. "And when you log in you're going to get the Drivatars and you're also going to get a whole bunch of content: tracks and cars.
"Our production schedule is such that we are putting them in as late as possible and that means making them free as downloadable content on day one."
You won't be able to escape the download either, as Drivatars are essential to the new Forza 5 experience. "That is required content to play the game. We basically have designed the game to work with all that content no matter how late it's coming in, in order to make the biggest game possible," said Greenwalt.
He claimed you won't need to stay on the 'net to play from that moment on, but even then you are advised to if you want to get the most from the game. "All of the cloud and online features make the game far, far better," he said.
"In fact I'd even say revolutionary. The things we're doing with opponents and Drivatar are not something that anyone can envision unless you've played it. But we're trying to get as much of that into the unconnected, offline mode as well."