This year Turn 10 Studios turned 10, and with the event comes the release of the sixth Motorsport title in the series of top class racing games. Forza Motorsport was in part responsible for the founding of 4-One Gaming, but that’s not to say we’re biased. We can be extremely critical of the series, but despite that, Forza Motorsport 6 deserves its accolades.
From the moment you load up the game, you’re greeted with a beautiful, meaningful cinematic, before being thrusted into the driver’s seat of the 2017 Ford GT, the car that spotlights on the box cover for the game. Taking it for a quick one lap spin around one of the game’s newest locations, Rio de Janeiro, it helps showcase the visual fidelity and the gorgeous vistas with all its colour and lighting effects.
Then, you’re introduced to the campaign’s ‘story mode’, which doesn’t actually tell any kind of story whatsoever, but allows you to progress through a series of races, moving up in the racing world as you succeed. The game’s tutorial continues, as it highlights the new Mods feature, which we’ll talk about later, as well as how to set up the game’s difficulty and Drivatar competitiveness to give you an experience that’s both a challenge, and accessible for a driver of any skill level.
Finish in the top three places in a race, and proceed to the next event in the series. Perform well enough, and you’re invited to take part in an Invitational event which tests your mettle in a variety of off-shoot events such as Bondurant gate races, weaving you in and out of traffic cone routes, Top Gear bowling, high speed chases or Endurance races, which make a welcomed return to many Forza veterans which were lacking in Forza Motorsport 5.
Each racing series gets its own narrative introduction over some shiny still images of unpainted cars, almost reminding us of Mirror’s Edge’s colour palette. Famed racing drivers and car journalists such as James May and Richard Hammond of Top Gear fame lend their voices, letting you know what lies ahead in the next series of races and within each car division. And there are lots of cars. 450 plus vehicles grace the game out of the box, with monthly content to come post launch. You can buy any car at will, as long as you have the credits to do so. You can rent any of the cars too, although this disables any XP gain or financial winnings, so it’s worth your while racing and earning to purchase the bigger rides.
Every time you level up, you earn a spin on the wheel, a feature borrowed from Forza Horizon 2, which will either earn you a new car, a sum of money, or a Mod pack. If you already have the car in your extensive garage, the game gives you the credits equivalent, which is a nice touch.
Now, the Mods. Mods allow you to alter the gameplay mechanics and apply boosts to your winnings and XP gain. Some of the cards are one-use only, and you can buy new packs of cards from the store for in-game credits. There are no microtransactions this time around. The Mods come in three varieties. Boosts, Crew and Dares.
Boosts simply grant you a percentage boost to your Credit or XP at the end of a race, which is obviously higher if you place first. Crew Mods apply performance enhancements to your car, such as +3 grip on a certain track, or +6 speed on another track. There’s a lot of variety, and these are good for new players to the game. The Dare Mods add extra challenge, but reward accordingly. Complete a race in the top three while starting from the 18th grid spot, and grant yourself a 10% winnings bonus. Complete a full race from the bumper view, and earn 20% extra cash. Stuff like that which adds a fun way to enjoy a semi-serious racer. Mods feature heavily in the Achievements list, for those looking for more gamerscore, giving you the opportunity to mix things up and push yourself to become a better driver.
The only downfall for using Mods is that they automatically cancel out your clean lap times. I found this to be a bit disappointing, meaning I’m using Mods a lot less than I’d like. I understand that the Crew Mods that grant performance upgrades would affect this, but for a simple cash bonus, I shouldn’t be penalised for racing clean. Also, in single player ‘career’ races, the dirty lap indicator is completely amiss. It features in every other mode bar career mode, and hopefully Turn 10 patch that back in.
Forza Motorsport 6 is packed full of game modes to play, and tonnes of options for multiplayer, online play. You can choose to limit car access to a particular class, a particular division, and a particular body family. Setting races up with friends for classic American muscle, no later than 1985, in B class is good fun, meaning people have to splash out and try something different in a more limited selection.
Rivals mode makes its return again, offering a massive selection of events that are updated monthly, letting you compete with friends and players all over the world for the fastest laptimes on all tracks, some which are restricted to a particular car chosen by Turn 10, making the competition fair but fun. Following another player’s ghost can help you find a better racing line, and help improve your abilities which is also rewarding in itself.
Forza Motorsport 6 also upped the player cap to 24 players from 16 in the last game. This applies to single player races as well as multiplayer, making the online lobbies dangerous with strangers, but an absolute blast with a lobby full of like-minded friends who enjoy serious racing events or weekly leagues. You can fill out the empty spaces with AI drivers with a difficulty level of your choosing if you wish, or just keep it to human players only. The choice is entirely yours.
Forza wouldn’t be Forza without the livery editor and graphic creation suite, and it returns with even more shapes and features than ever before. Forza Motorsport 6 also allows you to import your custom graphics from Forza Motorsport 5 and Forza Horizon 2 as well, meaning you don’t need to start painting from scratch if you spent tens of hours designing car liveries in previous games. This also applies to car tune setups as well. This is an exceptional bonus for Forza enthusiasts. My one niggling gripe with the suite is that the same problem persists that has been in the series for too long. Some body kit modifications still leave blank canvas spaces that can’t be reached, meaning your dream paint job might have a block of white space on the bumper’s trim that you can’t hide, unless you leave it the same colour as the car’s base coating. Sort that out, Turn 10!
While on the subject of gripes, another one that is aggravating is the AI during races. Not all of them, just the one at the front. There’s always an AI Drivatar that manages to shoot out in front at the beginning of a race, making it a chore to catch if you’re not experienced enough with the game, or if you spin off following a loss of control or a bad collision. Another issue is how in multiplayer races, the host may choose to limit car damage to cosmetic, but if your single player difficulty setting is set to full damage, it will override the lobby’s setting, meaning you can take damage while others won’t. A patch may come to address this, hopefully.
Other than that, I can’t really fault Forza Motorsport 6. The introduction of night racing and rain is welcomed, and the rain effects and 3D puddles look and feel fantastic. Rain drops splash against the camera, dripping down your screen, while puddles pull your car to the side, depending on which wheels go through the water. The night racing and races in the rain doesn’t apply to all tracks in the game, which some may find fault with, but I’m not a fan of night racing or rain in racing games to begin with, so I wasn’t too fussed on this personally.
While I have played and reviewed Forza 6 on the Xbox One controller, I asked a friend and Xbox Excellence in Racing colleague to offer his take on the game, using the Thrustmaster TX Wheel Base with Ferrari F1 Add-On Fanatec CSR Elite Pedals BasherBoards CPX Adaptor (req. to use Fanatec pedals with Thrustmaster wheel base).
“The handling model seems to have had a few tweaks from the previous game too, with all the assists off and simulation steering on it feels a lot more like a sim than previously (although not quite as ‘die hard’ as Project Cars). With it being a more accessible game than the likes of Project Cars I think it can easily cater for a wider audience of people with varying levels of ability and experience. Also, as a wheel user, the force feedback seems a lot more detailed, the general ‘feel’ is a lot better with things like kerbs and various environmental effects having a much more realistic and profound effect.
All in all, as a more ‘die hard’ racing gamer I prefer the handling model of Project Cars, but am having so much fun with Forza and it blows the previous game completely out of the water – you certainly won’t be going back to Forza 5 after playing 6, I’d say it ranks nearly as highly as pCars!”
The sound of Forza 6 is fantastic. The music is actually bearable too, with some tunes that I actually enjoy hearing. Previously, I’d turn off all in game music and menu music, as I found Forza 3 and onwards started becoming ‘too posh’ in its audio presentation, but Forza 6 becomes ‘cooler’ again. One track in particular made me ask “is this by Two Steps from Hell?” although I doubt it was. It’s still not up there with other driving games for its music selection, and it could do with a modern, licensed soundtrack for races.
The graphics are phenomenal, although I’d go as far as saying that Driveclub still possesses the best graphics on console, but Forza Motorsport 6 retains a solid 60 frames per second, 1080p display, whereas Driveclub holds up at 30 frames per second. They’re both great titles, but obviously limited to their respective platforms. If you can buy both, then do!
Forza 6 is worth your time and money, but if you played Forza 5 casually, it probably wouldn’t be worth it for you to move onto the next. If you’re looking for a racing game to play for the next 6 months to two years, this is the game for you. Painting and tuning cars, sharing them with the community, earning in-game cash rewards for your work, and snapping panoramic pictures of your car in the sunset, there’s so much to do an experience in it, and racing with your friends never gets old with such a massive selection of cars over 26 locations, all with various layouts and routes.
Forza Motorsport 6 is a masterclass in driving games, and while not as serious and difficult as Project CARS, it launched with stable lobbies, loads of options and the largest selection of vehicles in any racing game to date.