The best racing game since Gran Turismo 3.
During the past 10 years no racing franchise has been more impactful in the genre than Forza. When Turn 10 entered the scene it changed the way gamers and developers thought about how racing games should be designed. Its last release, Forza Motorsport 5, was regarded as a half-step toward bringing the franchise to a new generation. With a keener sense of the Xbox One's technology, Turn 10 now looks to finish the job with Forza Motorsport 6.
Forza Motorsport 6 has more than doubled the car count to 460 since you last saw Forza Motorsport. This large cast of vehicles is not only varied but impressively detailed. No car is left without careful attention as each is rendered inside and out. While that may seem par for the course with vehicles like the LaFerrari, knowing that even the Scion tC, Honda Prelude Si, and other less popular racing options have been designed meticulously is something to appreciate. Among this cast of vehicles is the featured 2017 Ford GT, a car that Ford and Turn 10 Studios work together on before the car's official debut. Its high performance and dashing looks are certain to make it a crowd-favorite that can only be enjoyed in the Forza universe.
Although Forza Motorsport 6 is a gargantuan game, it makes a strong effort to introduce you thoughtfully whether you’re new to Forza or a hardened veteran. Game modes and features are explained using both text and audio. This, combined with the simple yet entertaining design of the new Career mode, equips players for frustration-less success.
Speaking of Career mode, what's here is much better than previous iterations in the franchise. The path from start to finish is logically arranged to start you off with slower, more manageable cars before putting you behind speed demons like the 2017 Ford GT. It has a great flow to it, providing player choice to an effective degree. Any monotony brought on by participating in six events with the same car is broken up by a large library of exciting Showcase events that are available at any time. Many of these Showcase events deviate from the standard race procedure by having you do things like drift into bowling pins, race against Top Gear's Stig, or even try to win a race in a new Corvette against several generations of Corvette that have come before it.
Race payouts are roughly the same as post-update Forza Motorsport 5, but Forza Horizon 2’s Prize Spin system ensures that you'll quickly fill up your garage. You can expect to earn anywhere between 10,000 to 20,000 credits per race, and to level up (which earns a Prize Spin) every two to three races. These spins will almost always reward you with a greater sum of cash than a race offers, but occasionally you will be given a free car, which can range greatly in value, from a BMW 2-series to a McLaren P1. The system adds an element of unpredictability to progression, presenting you with great vehicles that you may not have purchased otherwise.
Those returning since the last Forza title will notice improvements to Drivatars. In addition to a new option to limit the aggression of NPC racers—they were notoriously crash-happy in their last iteration—the behavior of the A.I. is excellent. Although subtle, each opponent has its own unique driving style derived from the habits of the players they draw their attributes from. They will even make mistakes like real human players, resulting in the occasional poor racing line and oversteer. While they tend to tap bumpers violently on the first corner of a race, Drivatars are now in a state where they succeed at their intention of making you feel like you're in a race against other humans rather than monotonous robots—take note, Gran Turismo.
The player versus A.I. experience is made fantastic by the best selection of assists and A.I. difficulties in the business. Every player is able to cater the experience to their skill level, adjusting TCS, visible racing lines, A.I. skill level, and much more. In true Forza style, finding the right selections for your abilities and increasing the difficulty as you improve as a racer is incentivized through bonus credit rewards. The care that has gone into these settings makes Forza Motorsport 6 a compellingly comprehensive game for die-hard racing fans, as well as newcomers who may not know what an apex is, in a way that's unequaled in today's racing climate.
The driving experience is sharp and enjoyable. It’s exciting to drive Forza Motorsport 6’s robust cast of vehicles, each with their own personality told through exhaust notes, design language, and handling model. You can race from one of several camera viewpoints and control the camera in an intuitive fashion to provide a means for road awareness during tight situations. It’s unfortunate that the cockpit field of view is poor resulting in low visibility, but the hood view is sufficient for simulation.
What’s here isn’t 100% focused on simulation, but there are enough mechanics born from reality that car enthusiasts will welcome the fine details. These details come in many flavors, including the attention to how various materials interact with one another. Slamming into a tire wall will result in a very different effect than striking a metal barrier. The traction of pavement and cement is different, and so are rumble strips. You'll want to pay attention to where you aim your tires.
The greatest addition that Forza Motorsport 6 brings is its introduction of night racing and rain for the first time in the franchise. The fact that it’s taken 10 years to introduce what many would consider to be standard features for a AAA racing game is made less surprising by how thoughtfully they’ve been implemented.
At night, track lighting and headlights change the mood in a significant way. Daytona International Speedway lights up like heaven under the stars, and you can feel the cold of Belgium’s Circuit de Spa Francorchamps at midnight as you soar through Raidillon Eau Rouge. As great as night racing is, the implementation of rain is even more impressive. Rain droplets pepper the windshield (and the HUD) and interact with materials such as glass and carbon fiber differently.
Puddles formed from rain present a hazard for racers that provides an opportunity for risk and reward. When water is present on the primary racing line, you’ll have to make a decision to either power through the puddle or go the long route. Puddles can even be used strategically by blocking opponents into them, which can result in Mario Kart-esque banana spinouts. It isn’t just a visual effect like most other racing games on the market; driving through a puddle can and will hydroplane your car. As you glide over the water you can feel as your vehicle's tire rubber struggles to grip the tarmac beneath. What these seemingly unspectacular puddles provide for the racing landscape is the single biggest evolution for the genre in years.
The only problem with the night and rain implementation is the limited number of tracks that support them. There are more tracks that can only be raced during a clear day than those that allow you to change the conditions, although it’s important to note that the track list is substantial—26 destinations, each laser-scanned for accuracy. Some tracks new to the franchise such as Rio de Janeiro are likely to become new favorites of racing fans, while returning tracks have been improved with new alternate routes as well as much improved detail. Still, it's easy to become addicted to dodging puddles in the rain, and there are only so many options for those looking for that experience.
The introduction of Mods is both hit and miss. The Mods system allows you to equip up to three modifiers for your next race which can have multiple effects. There are some that will restrict you to particular assists (i.e. TCS and STM off), a single camera view, or even reduce the performance of your vehicle in return for greater spoils at the end of the race. This "Dare" style of Mod makes sense, and is a good addition for veteran players seeking unique challenges, but there are some Crew mods that simply increase the attributes of the car with no negative effect. For example, there’s a Crew mod that will increase braking power by 20% and horsepower by 5%. This style of mod isn’t consumed on use and presents a bewildering arcade-style system that jeopardizes the simulation that Forza strives for. It's as if Turn 10 Studios thought that the wealth of tuning options weren't enough.
Forza Motorsport 6 has come a long way since the debut of the Xbox One. The attention to detail and optimization of the game is extraordinary. Environmental detail is beyond anything the genre has seen before; Laguna Seca has finally been given justice with its loose dirt and atmosphere accounted for the first time in racing game history. Most surprising is the game’s consistent adherence to a 60 frames-per-second standard despite the introduction of night and rain effects, as well as twice as many cars present per race (up from 12 to 24). The only area where it struggles is with anti-aliasing, as jaggies are in abundance. Even the menus are clean and pretty.
The audio experience isn’t quite as successful. Engine audio is great, but many important audio cues that racing enthusiasts look for, such as tire and brake notes, are almost unnoticeable. Also, as Forza Motorsport fans have become accustomed to, the musical score is emotionless. You can't even adjust which songs appear in the rotation, so your only option is to disable the in-race music . Thankfully, voice overs for tutorials and series introductions are fantastic. Tanner Foust, James May, and Richard Hammond are just three of the professionals you’ll hear talk about cars to amp you up before an event.
The genre-leading multiplayer experience that Forza has earned a reputation for has returned with improvements. You can still battle for top leaderboard spots and engage in thrilling online races, but now you’ll have the option to participate in online leagues that provide a fine-tuned experience where players feel compelled to win. Made better, a feature-rich spectator mode has been added to provide those waiting for a race to finish with an opportunity to watch the race and gives broadcasters a new method of coverage.
It's fitting that the 2017 Ford GT was chosen as the feature car for Forza Motorsport 6 as both of them are refined, beautiful, and stand out among a sea of competitors. Forza has always been great, and with this release it’s better than ever.