Forza Motorsport 6 Hands-On: The First Two Hours of Career

Turn 10 Studios was surprised by the data it gathered on the spread of its players. After five installments of Forza Motorsport and two installments of Forza Horizon, the studio expected the bulk of its audience to be either leaderboard climbers who inched their way by millseconds or multipalyer rivals who loved the thrill of competition, mainly since racing naturally lends itself to to head-to-head contests and number-crunching precision. But what they found instead was that most Forza players focused on the more linear career campaign and wanted to claim first place in as many races as possible, setting the difficulty slightly below their ability in order to achieve the absolute highest positions. I am one such player.

So it was with eager anticipation that I had the chance to experience the first two hours of Forza Motorsport 6 available for the first time behind closed doors. The first thing to note is that, after a quick tutorial race, you will earn Forza Rewards (which Forza fans will be familiar with) based on your completion of prior Forza titles, up to 25 million in-game credits from what the developers stated. We didn't have they luxury, however, given that we played on Xbox One dev kits, but otherwise, our two-hour foray is commensurate to the actual experience.

Chances are that if you're reading this, you're already accustomed to the Forza formula—the XP for driving level and manufacturer affinity, the racing line, the photo-realistic tracks and environments, the rewind feature, the patient and steady narration, and the letter-based tiers for car power rankings—so let's head straight ahead and skip all the fluff. Career mode progresses from event series to event series, giving several options as to which group of equally-matched vehicles you with to complete. I jumped immediately to the C-class Japanese Street Kings group, opting to skip the E-class Classic Compact and D-class Hot Hatchbacks altogether, before moving up a class when I gathered enough credits to purchase a Z4 sDrive35is 2011 BMW (B 599 class).

Placing high enough in all of the races in a series vaults you to the next set of Volumes, which begin with Super Street and Sports Icons, then to Grand Touring and Professional Racing, and finally to Ultimate Motorsport where you'll fly off the edge of your seat in X-ranked speed demons. You won't have to wait too long to try your luck with these speedsters, since throughout the campaign you'll gain access to various Showcases (like endurance racing or high-speed chases), the first of which is driving an F1-class car on the Indiana Motor Speedway. I accidentally carried over simulation damage in the settings (for the extra credits), so you can guess what happened by the time I hit the edge of the track for the fourth time. Luckily, I had a healthy lead so I still managed to finish first, but it wasn't pretty.

Apart from that, there are three things you need to know about: puddles, mods, and Forza spins. The hype is real, folks. First off, the studio painstakingly scoured through footage of each track during wet conditions and recreated each puddle with incredible accuracy. That alone is impressive, but it's how these puddles test your racing prowess that's the real boon. The racing line might recommend that you head straight through these water traps, but more than likely, it will send your vehicle careening hydroplaning toward one side as your wheels lose contact with the road. Turns become that much more imposing, as you need to determine whether it's worth the risk barreling through the water or whether you should safely head around. (For more, here's a list of rare and super rare mods.)

In addition to earning extra credits for upping the difficulty settings and turning off assists, you can earn far more additional credits for adding mods to a race. Up to three mods can be used during a single race, and you can purchase packs of mods using in-game credits. The most expensive pack costs a whopping 300,000 credits, but it contains the highest rarity mods. Simple boost mods can award everything from bonus affinity levels and driver level experience to better starting positions and extra credits for Perfect Passes, Drafts, and Turns. Both crew mods and dare mods, though, can be used repeatedly but you can only use one of each type during a race. Crew mods increase the overall stats of your vehicle in a race whereas dares earn you extra credits for completing bonus objectives like using only manual transmission or severely reduced tire grip.

To help you obtain the rarest mods as well as premium-priced racecars, Forza Motorsport 6 adds the lucky Forza spin from the Horizon series, earning you one free spin to gain one of nine rewards. If you manage to hit the center square, you'll receive either a ridiculous amount of credits or cars worth that much or more. How should I know? Because I hit four center spaces in six spins! (The developers were flabbergasted.) Altogether, I racked up 1,000,000 credits, a Lotus E23 (worth about 2M credits), a Brabham BT24 (1.2M) and a #2 R18 e-tron quattro (1.5M). Yep, I think I just expended all my luck for the year.

Within just two hours of the career mode, Forza Motorsport 6 has made me believe that this will be the best Forza game yet and I'm little jealous that our resident racing expert Jonathan Leak will be reviewing the game for GameRevolution. But he should watch out, because I might just join him on the racetrack out of nowhere. Forza Motorsport 6 races onto store shelves on September 15, 2015.