Forza Motorsport 6
- Street Date:
- September 15th, 2015
- Reviewed by:
- Brian Hoss
- Review Date:1
- September 8th, 2015
- Game Release Year:
- Xbox One
- Microsoft Game Studios
- Turn 10 Studios
Digital Standard Xbox One version reviewed. Standard Xbox One controller used for both single player and multiplayer. Notes on multiplayer can be found in the Replay section.
One of the biggest names in racing games and in platform exclusives is none other than 'Forza,' and this year sees the release of 'Forza Motorsport 6.' Billed as the "biggest game" in 'Forza' history, 'Forza Motorsport 6' promises several firsts for the preeminent racer. It's the first core 'Forza' title to feature wet-weather and nighttime racing, and this time out, the cover star is the lovely 2015 Ford GT.
Nearly every one of 'Forza 6's promised features is an extension of the series' strengths. There are more cars, more tracks, more racers and more ways to play offline and online as well as more ways to personalize each and every Forzavista car.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
The Xbox One Era
It's been 10 years since the original 'Forza Motorsport' debuted on the original Xbox, and the current Xbox One era sees 'Forza' as an almost automatic buy for Xbox One owners and a series to envy for non- Xbox One owning racing fans. This is thanks is no small part to the joyful openworld racer that is 'Forza Horizon 2.'
'Forza Motorsport 5' is a technically brilliant game, full of quality racing. Unfortunately, the Xbox One launch title was marred by the twin-heads of limited content and aggressive content-gating, which was paired with a tendency by the game to recommend paid DLC (and VIP membership). Several post-release updates and free DLC offerings helped smooth the game over, but for this 'Forza' veteran, 'Forza 5' was a misstep. I was left feeling like the career mode was too often returning to the same tracks, and that far too many cars were locked as DLC .
Forza Motrosport 6
In contrast, 'Forza Motorsport 6' is a return to form. Once through the game's introduction, a wealth of cars, tracks, and modes become available. As a racing game fan and a car-lover, this is the exact kind of feeling I want from a racing title. The rating and division of cars by Power Index continues to drastically affect everything in game (for better and for worse), but when getting down to a specific class or PI, or something more fun like the categorical "Tracks Toys," there are lots of choices. Choosing the car and arguing its worth on track is the payoff, and what a payoff.
One area that Turn 10 likes to emphasize is that of the in-game physics. Ever present in the game is the feel of the tires gripping (or slipping) on the track. Reacting and planning for those physics is the essence of the gameplay, and 'Forza 6' once again presents this in a way that veteran racers can dig into while new players can expect a reasonable learning curve. Understanding how nuanced the physics are in the ForzaTech engine starts with different cars on different tracks, different tires, yes, even the different weather options.
Beyond the different cars, the depth comes from the game's ability to let the player scale towards the simulation difficulty/settings and to get waste-deep in the weeds of the tuning. As with previous entries, however, there is still a limit. For instance, traction control is still binary.
Honestly though, while a certain consistent stubbornness carries over from previous 'Forza' games, the feel of the tracks in 'Forza 6,' the feel of each different bit of tarmac, dirt, grass, rumble strip, and so on is such that I never want to go back to 'Forza 5.'
Likewise, while 'Forza 6' can appear to be stodgy compared with other racing titles, some of the variety present in 'Forza Horizon 2' has crept in. The career progression, which focuses on a vague of sense of racing as organized academically through the Stories of Motorsport, isn't bursting with innovation.
The general narrative tidbits are both of a high-production value and a mix of stilted and near satirical sound bites.
As in other parts of the game, each race ends with a delivery of credits (for buying cars and mod packs), XP (for driver level), and manufacturer affinity.
Whenever a new driver level is reached, a reward spin in earned. Through these spins, the player will pick up credits, a mod pack, or a new car. As the prizes available can vary greatly one spin to the next, the reward sequence is more engaging and the simple mini-game remains fun time after time.
Sometimes there is only one car that can be won, other times there can be four cars in the mix, and the values of the cars are all over the place. In my first few levels, I was able to pick up a few million in credits and several six digit credit price cars.
For use in single player only, 'Forza 6' offers players Mods. These Mods come in card packs, and are either one-time race Boosts, continuing perks (represented as a Crew bonus), or a special restriction (Dare).
Only one of each for Dares and Crew can be used per race, so there is no stacking. With the Crew bonuses, which affect the weight, power, grip, etc. of the car, specific cards can yield an extra bonus for specific tracks. Right off, I hated the mods. Then, due to the joy of opening card packs, I loved them, but ultimately, they are harmless. I rarely bothered with the consumable boosts; they tend to cost more credits than they can earn back. I used Dares (like no driving line) that suited how I drove anyway. Once I obtained a really good Super Rare Crew card, I rarely felt the need to switch it out.
More impactful is the game's way of peppering the career mode with Showcases. These Showcases are unlocked progressively (presumable by Driver level), but are always available to play.
Many of the Showcases (Overtake, Autcross, ShootOut, Race the Stig) will be familiar, but others, like the historic ones are a real treat. There is some refinement which makes for unique challenges (almost like the Bucket List in 'FH2'). I was surprised by the lack of point to point racing, but also not surprised to find in the Overtake Showcases that the Rewind function often disappears under odd circumstances.
Nighttime & Wet-weather
That's pretty much how I feel about the nighttime and wet-weather racing. These variations have been implemented with a strong emphasis on the difference in physics in play. (Nighttime racing features colder tires.) Frankly, the wet-weather racing in 'Forza 6' reminds of the idea that 'Top Gear' had to do all test laps on a wet track in order to produce the most consistent results. (This idea proved horribly impractical.) The wet-weather is implemented visually (more on that later) and through two big changes. As expected, the tracks are more slick, and different cars handle this better. The other aspect is standing water in puddles and sloughs. These pockets are fixed in place and can feel like something from a cart-racing title whenever the AI squeezes my car that way. The idea would seem to be to disrupt the normalcy of a driving line, and indeed the extra element is both fun and annoying.
Take Silverstone; there is a huge puddle on the left side of the track just before a huge bend on the right, and I had learn the hard way to chicane around the puddle or else tumble into the bend.
Because there are only a small selection of wet-weather and nighttime track variations, the inclusion and characteristics feel very safe. They do a good job of adding some variance to a straightforward genre title, but I also think they are a good seed for the series going forward.
Microsoft is happy to tell players that 'Forza 6' includes 460 Forzavista cars (all of the cars in 'Forza 6' can be viewed in the lush Forzavista mode), and this indeed is just one of the numbers that reflects what the game is about. The Drivatar system, which continues to take in more player data, is easily one of the best things going in going, if less novel after nearly two years.
Players can not only pick from one of the half dozen difficulty settings for the Drivatars, but there is even a special Limit Aggression setting. I'm so used to the AI's wild temper that I prefer to leave the Aggression in place.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
I have often referred to 'Forza 5' and 'Forza Horizon 2' as must-have demo material, but that is in part in because I respect the gameplay so much. 'Forza Motorsport 6' checks in at 1080p, 60fps, and never seems to miss a beat. Yes, there are some parts, like the rearview mirrors and track intros, where these numbers dip, but the overall presentation is blisteringly consistent.
The lighting and certain tracks details in particular are greatly improved from 'Forza 5,' and there is a welcome reduction in lens flare effects. That said, 'Forza 6' does what 'Forza 5' did, but better, with more cars on track.
The bump up to 26 proper tracks (with loads more ribbons) with the addition of famous circuits like Watkins Glen and Brands Hatch does wonders for extending the game's visual slate.
Nighttime lighting exhibits a smart global value while maintaining eye-pleasing shadow depth and falloff. (Daytona at night looks great.) The wet-weather tracks call to mind the 2013's 'Rush' wet-weather sequences. (I recommend watching 'Rush' and 'Senna' in preparation for playing' Forza 6.')
One thing that radically affects the visuals of 'Forza 6' is the growing presence of Liveries.
In-game Drivatars come with their liveries (this can be turned off), and community liveries are the first thing to see when buying a car. I prefer to keep my cars' stock paint, but the variety of liveries available and visible in the game is nonetheless impressive. Though not to my taste, it's one of 'Forza 6' most important features and goes well with the theme of being able to customize each car through different parts, different set-ups, and different decaled paint schemes.
Photo mode is a wonderful part of the game, and I'm gald it is a standard for the series.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
More so than any other aspect, the audio of 'Forza 6' feels like business as usual. (The same fireworks sounds that didn't work in 'FH2' are here in force.) The sounds of revving engines remain dominant but not the deafening things of real-life. While I have no doubt that the sound of a car as prominently featured as the new Ford GT has been lovingly attended to, I'm not able to discern its specific signature. In effect, I've been spoiled by 'Forza' in the audio department when it comes to the cars.
The sounds of the menu and the game's music are equally innocuous to my ears, which is probably good. I spent hours with the game using a headset, and never found a single grating piece of music or button sound.
Richard Hammond and James May are on-hand for 'Top Gear' voiceovers. With Clarkson absent, and 'Top Gear' where it is right now, this is at best bittersweet, however, many of the other cameo intros in the Showcases are a real joy.
In addition to a hearty career, freeplay, and showcase modes, there is the full suite of traditional multiplayer. All-too rare these days is split-screen multiplayer, but 'Forza 6' has it, and it is bolstered by easy access to any car.
Naturally, online versus multiplayer is where all of the tech, practice, and variety come together. The bump to 24 players online (as well as offline) is a big change, but there is more. While the private and public match options feel like standard 'Forza,' the Online Leagues are a big change that I've been waiting on for years. (Expect wild starts in Public matches.) Much like when the Rivals features were introduced, the League mode is great for players with massive friend lists of racers, or those who don't have that racing community connection. The built-in Class set-ups are pretty smart.
During the 'Forza 6' pre-release phase, I was able to get in about a dozen races multiplayer races over a few hours, split between the standard lobby mode and leagues. There is some funniness like when in a lobby and buying a new car. Buying the new car and increasing the PI takes some concerted UI navigation. (Renting a new car is always an option, the drawback is that no XP is earned from rented cars. ) The track load time online is the same brief 20-30 seconds as offline, and my limited testing was quite solid (no teleporting).
Rivals mode has grown in ways that should please the hardcore competitors. It's always fun to try to beat you friends, whether it's their Drivatar, their Rivals time, or in a direct race. Overall, I'd still like to see options like rolling starts and limited fuel.
The Forza Hub app and Forza Rewards system continue to be welcoming. And in stark contrast the Xbox One system launch, players can pick up 'Forza 6' while having an eye on any one of several nice Xbox One wheel options. Special Elite controller support is also included.
'Forza Motorsport 6' is much more evolutionary than it is revolutionary, but it is nevertheless a significant upgrade over 'Forza 5.' Key features, like the Drivatar system, can't be found outside of the franchise, and the stealth feature that looks to have serious legs is the addition of Leagues. 'Forza 6' is more serious, deeper, and more demanding than 'Forza Horizon 2,' but I expect many players will embrace both games while others are polarized. The Stories of Motorsport career mode is a welcome change, but still feels in need of a more major shake-up. Even so, the look and feel of racing in 'Forza 6' in dry or wet, offline or online, makes the game a crown jewel offering for the Xbox One platform, and it's a game that feels teeming with content.
- Online Versus
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