Forza Motorsport is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, and what better way to say happy birthday then by releasing Forza Motorsport 6. Having played all the Forza games, including the Horizon series, since the franchise first released on the original Xbox, watching Forza Motorsport evolve into what some have classified as a premier racer has been enjoyable. From the first release in 2005 the franchise has become a refined and ever advancing experience, and racing fans have been rewarded game after game. Forza Motorsport 6 continues this legacy, and after many laps, and a few crumpled bumpers and fenders, I have to say that this game is the best in the series yet.
Forza 6’s career mode is broken up into 5 chapters, and within each chapter are different types of race series to challenge your skills. You (as a male or female racer) choose the class of car to drive and race against (up to 23 opponents) from a total of 460 in-game cars. It’s as simple as choosing your car, listening to the introduction (narrated by automotive industry experts) and then off to race. The career mode takes around 70 hours to complete. You’ll be racing in 26 different locations, from Daytona International Raceway to Silverstone to Circuit of the Americas. From real-life tracks to fantasy tracks, there are a total of 90 different tracks to be found in these 26 locations, which is not too shabby at all.
As you make your way through the career mode you earn XP, Affinity (manufacturer loyalty) as well as in-game credits. As your XP grows you level up and with each new level you get a prize spin. You can win credits, cars and even mod packs (more on these later) when spinning. I had to chuckle as my first prize spin resulted in a Bugatti Veyron, an expensive and very fast supercar. As you progress through your career you’ll also open up Showcase events. These events are special races with special cars that highlight specific things (e.g. historic rivals, iconic cars) and consist of different challenges. From flat out racing to autocross, passing events, and even timed laps; beat the ‘challenge’ and you beat that specific Showcase event. There are a total of 10 Showcase categories with the number of events in each one ranging from 5 to 13.
Drivatars are back this year, and I always find myself smiling when I see my online friends’ Drivatars in my career races. For those few who don’t know what Drivatars are, they are virtual recreations of people who play Forza, and the data is saved to the Xbox Live Cloud, and once you race you’ll actually be racing a virtual version of those people with their driving tendencies. It’s a cool feature given you don’t know how the cars around you will react. If I did have one complaint in this area it’s the fact that starting in the middle of the pack was always a battle and the amount of cars bouncing off of me, and one another, was kind of crazy. Sometimes I just couldn’t get out of a pack quick enough to start my way towards the front.
One of the new additions to racing in Forza Motorsport 6 are Mod Packs. These are cards that you can use during races. They range from common to super rare and can consist of one time use or unlimited use cards. For example, some one time use cards can give you extra credit or move you up a spot or two in the starting grid, while some unlimited use cards can challenge you to race in a ‘locked’ camera view while trying to complete challenges. There are also ‘crew’ cards that give your car some performance spiffs, such as increased grip on a certain track or a 10% decrease in your cars weight. You cannot stack the ‘crew’ cards as you can only have one equipped in your mod pack list (maximum 3 cards). Some might find these mod packs move away from the purist approach of simulation racers, but they are actually fun as they challenge you to race under some interesting conditions (e.g. braking power decreased by 10%) testing your driving skill.
Of course the BIGGEST addition to the series is the ability to race at night and in wet-weather. I’ll just say it now; these two additions fundamentally change the way you race. Racing at night has you having to memorize the track even more, as you cannot gauge when to break with visual markers as easily, especially with those tracks where lighting is limited. Of course seeing vehicles behind you is limited to just a set of lights too. As for the wet-weather, well, I’d guess you know how wet roads make for slick surfaces. I was amazed to feel how Turn 10’s “3D puddles” actually do cause your car to take a path of it’s own at times, and you have to compensate for when you can’t avoid any pooled up water. This is very noticeable on Brands Hatch in the rain where some puddles are pretty much track wide. Even AI cars struggle on the wet tracks. After extended time racing on many different tracks in the dark of night, or in the virtual rain, the differences in gameplay feel pretty sizeable.
The game’s control and car physics seems to have been fine-tuned too. If there was one thing that I discovered it was that vehicles lose grip around certain corners or on certain surfaces more than I remember. I attribute this to fine-tuning the Forza experience and realism of the game. It almost felt like the cars handle better and you definitely findwhere their limits lie. I don’t know how to explain it any better, but regardless, it is clear they did even more work on the in-game physics of the cars, and how they drive, to improve on the realism. The rewind button is back this year too, but remember, you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to, so diehards can quit complaining now.
Should you wish for some multiplayer competition, Forza Motorsport 6 has you covered. Head on over to the “Free Play” option to try out any car and any track with a friend in some local split screen play. For an even bigger experience, you can play online in class specific races, drifting competitions and even a game of tag (virus). Like the career mode you can play with up to 24 cars on track, but this time they can be all real players or a combination of real players and Drivatars. If you don’t want to join a public lobby you can make our own lobby and control all the game options from track or type of car to the number of cars you race against, the number of laps and if damage is realistic or not. On a side note, if there is room in a lobby you can head on in and spectate to see what’s going on in a race too.
“Given that Forza Motorsport is game that releases a new iteration every two years, I really wondered how Forza Motorsport 6 would improve the franchise, and after playing it over the past week I would have to say that it has improved in many areas.”
A new online multiplayer competitive feature is League mode. Here you can race in scheduled race series where players are organized by skill level. The events, at this stage, are weekly and start off with an introductory league followed by a class challenge and then specific car challenge. Turn 10 will introduce more league play as time goes by, so the truly competitive will get to put their skills to the test. It’s pretty amazing with how fairly robust Forza Motorsport 6 is online. As a disclaimer, we had our review copy well before launch, so there were no issues online, and as the game goes public we will keep our eye on how things play and if we run into serious issues we’ll update this review as needed.
As with past Forza games, liveries, tuning and photos are back. You can once again share your car designs, your tuning set-ups as well as photos and replays. You can also search for something that you might be interested in. As an added bonus, if you’ve created any liveries or have specific car set-ups (tuning) from Forza Motorsport 5 or Forza Horizon 2 you can transfer these into Forza Motorsport 6. Of course if you are a diehard Forza fan, like myself, you might just get a few ‘rewards’ when you first fire Forza Motorsport 6 up too, depending on how much you’ve played any of the previous games. We can’t forget to mention Forzavista either. You can check out, in detail, every one of the 460 cars in this game, from top to bottom, from hood to trunk, from outside to inside. You can learn about each car’s history too via a detailed audio tour. It’s amazing how much detail is in each car and how you can check out EVERY single one so minutely.
Visually, Forza Motorsport 6 is a solid looking game. It still runs at a full 1080p/60fps. Lighting seems improved, the reflections on the hood of the car seem more detailed and flow better, and there just seems to be a level of polish that clearly advances the game as a whole. One such feature, for me, was the rear-view mirror. In Forza Motorsport 5, huge chunks of landscape or buildings just disappeared when looking in the mirror, in Forza Motorsport 6 things seems to last almost as far as you can see them, with only a view things popping out. It may seem like a small detail, but it does add to the overall experience. Also worth mentioning are the tire (tyre for you Europeans out there) barriers. Should you hit them they scatter all over the track, whereas in previous games when you hit them they were just like a wall, but now they break loose.
Of course the night and wet-weather modes look stunning. Seeing the artificial light at night on Yas Marina or Sebring, a long stretch of a dark back straight away on Le Mans lit up by only your car’s headlights, the wet and shiny surface on Sebring, to the puddles that form on Nurburgring, all of it is great to look at. You’ll even notice some fog too on a cold and rainy day. I was pretty amazed with how the rain beads off the glass of your windows, the wipers wash it away, or the way water beads off the game’s camera in another view mode (e.g. chase or hood), all are very convincing. I should note that not all tracks can be played in the night or rain as Turn 10 have made it so you can’t race on tracks where it doesn’t usually rain (e.g. Yas Marina) or where there are no night lights. Tracks raced at night or in the rain are predetermined in the track menu and you can’t turn these conditions on/off in the free play menu.
Rounding out the package is the audio, and what great audio it is. Of course, as would be expected, each car sounds distinctly different, from a 1965 Mini Cooper S, a 1968 Oldsmobile Hurst 442 to the more modern Lamborghini Huracan, Toyota GT-1 to the Ford Shelby Raptor truck or the cover car, the 2017 Ford GT. I played mainly in my home office, so I used my gaming headphones (Turtle Beach Stealth 500X & Astro A50’s) and all the cars sounded awesome. They sound pretty darn good through my GAEMS M240 speakers as well. As for environmental effects, like the skids of tires, rumble strips, the surrounding sounds of various areas, to the rain slicked roads as you hit a puddle, you can’t miss them. Go inside a vehicle and you’ll get a totally different sound stage too. The game’s music, if left somewhat quiet, manages to meld into the gameplay and it wasn’t as annoying as I had anticipated. If had to find one complaint, it would be that the sounds of cars crashing into one another sound ‘off’ and a little too generic. No matter what the speed, or scenario, the same sound seemed to resonate for any bump or crash.
Given that Forza Motorsport is a game that releases a new iteration every two years, I really wondered how Forza Motorsport 6 would improve the franchise, and after playing it over the past week I would have to say that it has improved in many areas. From the handling to the visuals, the number of in-game cars, to the addition of night and wet-weather racing. Oh, and we can’t forget the robust online features either. I really tried to find something I wouldn’t like with this game but I couldn’t. At this point in time Forza Motorsport 6 is the definitive sim/circuit racing experience that is accessible to all levels of racers on the current generation of consoles.
***A code was provided by the publisher for review purposes***
Night & wet-weather conditions
24 cars on track at once
‘League’ multiplayer mode
Visual Polish over Motorsport 5
Climbing from middle of pack can be a battle
Generic sound for crashes
Why isn’t the weather adaptive?
Some may tire of the circuit racing format