Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Turn 10
If you’re a racing game fan, you should consider checking out Forza Motorsport 6 when it launches on September 15th. While there are certainly some folks that were a bit soured on the Forza brand post-Forza 5, it really feels like developer Turn 10 has come up with something special this time around. It’s not just the loving detail given to the 400+ vehicles at your disposal, or the excellent renditions of recognizable tracks like Nürburgring and Laguna Seca. Forza Motorsport 6 really just feels like a total package, a culmination of effort and skill in the 10 year history of the franchise that shines through in every little detail of the game.
Forza 6 is absolutely gorgeous, running at a rock solid 60 frames per second with virtually no technical issues that I could see. No screen tearing, no awful pop-in, just fantastic visuals in both the 26 tracks represented on disc and the voluminous livery of cars at your disposal. Forza 6 is easily one of the best looking racers on the market, which is saying something considering how great recent releases like Driveclub and Project Cars have looked. And if you’re some sort of auto aficionado, you’ll get even more detail out of the returning Forzavista experience.
From a control standpoint not a lot has changed with Forza 6. This is still very much a “sim racer”, and controls as such. But like previous entries in the franchise, you can fine tune your experience quite a bit, with plenty of optional assists and difficulty sliders to choose from. And for those that really want that sim experience, you can still go in and tune each car individually in order to maximize your potential on the track. For those that choose to run with fewer assists, you’re also rewarded by increasing the percentage of your prize pool for every race completed, a decent incentive that’s been present in previous Forza titles, and one that ideally pulls players from their difficulty comfort zone a bit.
The Drivatar concept also returns, carrying over from Forza 5 and Forza Horizon 2. I don’t know that I could say Drivatars feel significantly improved here, but I did like having the option to turn off “aggression” as a feature, making races a little less prone to turn into Mad Max-lite. I will say that Drivatars are generally better than a standard game controlled A.I., in that there’s a lot of randomization regardless of track position. I’ve seen occasions where a race leader will take a turn a little too wide, or brake a bit too slow, careening off into a wall while losing position on the track. It just makes the experience feel more real and unpredictable, which I certainly enjoy. But I’ve also seen things go wrong, like a car that gets stuck off-track and just stays there for the entirety of the race, so there’s still some fine-tuning needed where Drivatars are concerned.
One of the biggest changes/additions this year is the overhaul in wet track racing and night racing. Wet racing in particular is significantly improved, with physics-based puddles on the tracks that can cause a very realistic, and somewhat terrifying rendition of hydroplaning. Night racing is also pretty unique and interesting, particularly when featured on tracks without limited lighting, so your entire experience is guided strictly by headlights. Also, the new fog effects are remarkable, and again, very realistic.
Another addition is the introduction of “Mods”, represented in game by cards contained inside mod packs. These packs of cards can be earned through purchases using in-game currency or by winning packs via Wheelspins. You’ll have three slots to equip mods, generally with one crew mod that will add bonuses like improved braking or steering (generally sub 10% depending on rarity), while other mods are one-time use items that’ll grant you bonus XP or credits at the end of the race. There are also Dare cards, which can provide decent payouts provided you’re willing to turn off certain assists or hit various goals while racing that might be a little outside of your comfort zone.
All in all, the mod system doesn’t make a really huge impact. The crew mods are the most useful, but even the “super rare” crew mods don’t make a significant difference here. The one-time use cards, particularly the bonus XP and cash items, feel a little more important, improving payouts by percentages that at least seem significant. I’m sure I only scratched the surface on what mods are actually available, considering the randomization of what the mod packs contain, but from what I’ve seen thus far this isn’t an addition that feels like some sort of game changer for the series.
One big concern that I had going in, a concern likely held by anyone that played Forza 5, was how much of a focus monetization would be this time around. Well, unless something changes once the game goes live, it’s essentially a non-issue. Real money isn’t used outside of your standard assortment of DLC cars found in just about any other racer nowadays. Heading to the storefront option from the in-game menu will unveil Car Packs containing a number of vehicles licensed around the Fast and Furious franchise, along with some additional vehicles, but there’s no token system this time around, and no way to purchase cars or mod packs on disc with anything other than in-game credits.
Also, Free Play would appear to be back to normal, offering both single player and split screen modes with the full car library available via the rental system. The word rental here just means you won’t earn money or experience when using a car you haven’t purchased, but outside of that you’re free to play with any of the 400 plus car models available. And when it comes to actually purchasing cars, you won’t have to wait long to earn enough credits to buy whatever you want. It’ll take time to buy everything, sure, but even the most expensive car currently in the game won’t take but a few hours to become affordable.
As far as other modes, multiplayer for Forza 6 has a big focus on Online Leagues, which are timed events throughout the year where you can compete with players of a similar skill level for leaderboard domination. The end of a league event will net you some sort of payout depending on your leaderboard position when the event ends. I haven’t been able to actually complete a league prior to launch, but there’s a few scheduled around launch that should be fun to participate in. You still have some standard non-league online options, with both private and public games, featuring up to 24 racers. There’s a series of multiplayer hoppers to choose from at launch, including C, D, and A Class varieties, Tag, Unlimited Drift and a few more. My sampling of online was limited in general, so I have no real idea how well the servers will work during launch, but my limited time spent online prior to launch was solid and fun.
Career Mode for Forza 6 is pretty beefy, broken down into the “Stories of Motorsport”. Each story has a focus, like Super Street, Sport Icons, Grand Touring, Professional Racing, and Ultimate Motorsport. Within these stories are a series of events, and you’ll need to complete three series before moving on to the next story. A series will consist of multiple races, focusing on different car types, such as Hatchbacks, Rally, Compacts, Muscle, Sport Utility, and a whole lot more. You can revisit series and stories at any point via the main menu, with percentage trackers for completion. If you plan to race all events, you can expect to spend a considerable amount of time with Career mode in Forza 6.
The unlockable Showcase Events add some additional variety, unlocking throughout Career Mode featuring one-off style races across different car types. These events are generally highlighted by voiceover introductions from a number of automotive industry celebs, notably the Top Gear crew. There’s a whole lot of these events to unlock, giving access to some unique vehicles and loadouts that you generally won’t encounter elsewhere in Career Mode. This includes one on one races against The Stig from Top Gear, Passing Challenges, Factory-Spec races, and more.
I am absolutely enamored with Forza Motorsport 6 thus far, and I’m looking forward to spending even more time with the game once it launches next week (particularly for leagues and online play). There’s so much to do, see, buy, and unlock here that I’ll easily spend upwards of 100 hours or more with this entry. And it all looks, so, so pretty, with so much attention to detail across every aspect of the game that I still find myself constantly stunned by it. The controls are spot on, and perfect for virtually any skill level to pick up and play. It’s also a technically sound experience, outside of some lengthy load times between tracks. I think Turn 10 has done a commendable job with Forza Motorsport 6, and it’s a game that deserves all the positive accolades I’m sure will come its way soon.