Forza Motorsport 6 has been with us for a few weeks now and those of you who know me (Matt, AKA Northern Angels) will know I like to race with my own setups. I’ve been tuning in Forza for as long as the series would allow and while I in no way regard myself as an expert, I do feel as though I’ve learnt enough about the feature to be able to share my experiences and advise those of you who want to get to “grips” with tuning (see what I did there?). There really is no better way to win on Forza’s multiplayer, than with a car you’ve set up yourself.It’s worth noting that if you’re already running with the boys at the front of the pack with your own setups, then this guide really isn’t going to help you much. I want to cover as much as possible without making this overly complicated, so if you’re already familiar with the core principles, then this guide won’t really teach you anything you don’t know already. So let’s start with the very basics, choosing a car.
Vehicle choice is always tricky, there’s a large variety of cars to choose from in Forza Motorsport 6 and not all of them are fit for purpose, they can be broken down into 3 groups depending on which wheels the power is going to, FWD (Front wheel drive), RWD (Rear Wheel Drive) or AWD (All wheel Drive). Some are easier to tune than others and frankly if you’re going to get into tuning then you want something that’s going to be relatively easy to set-up. Start with something that’s already pretty decent standard, and you’re going to have a much easier time of it. FWD cars for example are best kept to class E,D,C and B, purely because any higher and you’d have to make the car too powerful to keep up, which means all sorts of problems for the handling (understeer city). I also tend to avoid using AWD cars, purely because they tend to weigh a hell of a lot more than that of their RWD or FWD competitors, there are some that cut the mustard and on some tracks they’re far superior in the hands of the right driver, but for a beginner I’d recommend choosing a reasonably light RWD car with the aim of either B or A-Class racing. For the purposes of this guide, I’m going to be referring to the 2008 BMW M3 (E92). This is generally my “go to” car when racing in A-Class on Forza. Why? Front Engine, Rear Wheel Drive, reasonably light with good weight distribution and powerful enough to hold its own down the straights. I would also recommend the Honda NSX, Mazda MX-5 or if you want to be brave and go a little higher, the new Ford GT. (Get some practice first though).
Upgrading your chosen car is the easiest part of the process, it’s also one of the most important. Forza 6 will only allow you to tune your car on the basis that you have specific parts installed so, for example, if you don’t have race suspension, then you can’t alter the suspension, which is something you’re going to want to do if you want to see those lap times tumble. Pay attention to your vehicles P.I. number, if it isn’t at the max of the vehicles class, then it just won’t be as good as it can be. So here’s a quick break down of what you should choose in the “upgrade” section in order of priority:
- Brakes – Always always go for Race Brakes this will barely add to your cars PI score and yet is the most important thing you can do
- Tyres/Weight – I’d say Tyres and Weight removal are equally as important as one another but you don’t necessarily have to upgrade both to race spec. Both of these upgrades will take your car close to the max of its PI but you want to leave a little bit of space for other essential upgrades, try mixing and matching which level you choose to see whether you favour better tyres over less weight or vice versa. Personally I’ve always gone for less weight over a better tyre compound. Then depending on which wheels the power is going to, upgrade the tyre width. On the M3 for example, Race weight reduction, Sports Tyres and maximum rear tyre width gives it a pretty good feel on the track.
- Suspension & Anti Roll Bars – Another essential upgrade, without these you’ll lose the ability to tune the way your car handles and rides. Always save room on the cars PI to upgrade all 3 components to race. They barely use any PI so there really is no excuse.
- Differential – Again essential for the “fine-tuning” process, this will help control how your car reacts to acceleration and deceleration through the bends. Again its rare this upgrade will even raise the PI by a single point.
- Aerodynamics – Now we’re getting to the less essential stuff as some cars just don’t need this upgrade, however I’ve always felt that RWD cars feel the most benefit. These upgrades help keep your car nice and stable at high-speed, crucial for tracks with long sweeping bends. However bare in mind that adding these upgrades (particularly the rear spoiler) will create drag and lower the car’s top speed. It’s also worth noting that adding both together can actually lower the cars PI.
- Gearbox – On a personal level I always try to make room to allow for the “Race Gearbox” upgrade, however I wouldn’t exactly call it essential, gear ratios are notoriously difficult to tune if you don’t know what you’re doing then you’re really going to struggle. My advice to beginners would be to install the Sport Upgrade, for reasons I’ll explain later.
You should now be nearing the limit of the cars class, If you’ve gone over then chances are the car you’ve chosen isn’t suited for the desired class. There’s various parts you can choose at this stage to max out your PI, a Race Clutch for example will help shave a couple of pounds off your car whilst improving the time between gear shifts. Upgrading the Flywheel or Driveline will also help maxing it out. Alternative you could go for a nicer set of wheels, lighter wheels will increase the PI in small increments… And well… Who doesn’t love a nice set of rims?
Have a play around using various parts, personally I like to add a Race or Sports Exhaust system or Air Filter into the mix for a bit of added grunt and less weight, keeping a close eye on your vehicles stats to see which upgrades allow for the biggest improvements without going over the max PI. It’s always a good idea to compare the stats against other, highly rated tunes without actually downloading them, to see if you’re getting similar results.
Once you’ve finished upgrading, you’re going to wait to take the car out for a spin to see how it feels, bear in mind that without tuning though you’re not going to break any lap records, all you’re looking for is key factors to consider when you’re going to actually start getting down to the nitty gritty. Test your brakes, the way the car turns into corners, how it feels when you apply the throttle after the apex, how the car handles the surface, basically everything, just get a feel for the thing over a handful of laps and be sure to take mental notes. Once you feel like you’ve got a feel for it, its time to set up a base tune.
Base tuning is basically a tune you will put on every car before you start the fine tuning process, it’s essentially a rough estimate of what you think is going to work based on the cars statistics. It’s pretty tricky to advise on this as everyone has a different idea of what feels right and it’ll vary depending on a lot of different factors. So the following is how I would personally set up the BMW M3 for Dry Weather on a Track (for the purposes of tuning I tend to use Spa as the track features a variety of different turns that will allow you to do a good general) at the class A700, excluding Gearbox setup:
Tyre Pressure (PSI):
Front: 27.0, Rear: 27.0
Camber: Front -2.0 Degrees, Rear -2.0 Degrees.
Toe: Front 0.1 Degrees, Rear -0.2 Degrees.
Caster Angle: 6.2 Degrees
Front: 17.32, Rear: 18.06
Front: 605.6, Rear 461.1
Right Height (Inches):
Front: 4.1, Rear: 4.1
Front: 6.7, Rear: 6.4
Front: 5.4, Rear: 3.9
Front: 100, Rear: 200
Balance/Pressure: 53% to the front at 85%
This is the exact base tune I have been using for the 2008 BMW M3 (E92) based on the car’s weight, weight distribution, power and drive, I do not consider any other factors when setting up the basis on which to build, its worth noting that this base would be similar for most other RWD cars with a similar weight distribution and weight. If the car I had chosen was heavier the springs/rebound and bump would all be stiffer to help cope with the cars additional weight, and softer if the vehicle was lighter which would allow the suspension to travel more without upsetting the car. Camber, Toe and Caster Angle would more or less stay the same unless I am using a car with either FWD or AWD, differential stays the same for all RWD cars and Brakes are only tuned based on how they feel as I’m using them, but we’ll cover that in more detail a bit later on.
Once you’ve got a base tune on your car it’s time to take it out on the track again to see how it feels, chances are it’s going to be a huge improvement over how the car felt when it was just upgraded, but this is only really the start of the process, things are about to get a whole lot more complicated. So set a “hot lap” and take note of the time, your aim is to get that as low as possible. Spend a bit of time on the track getting a feel for the car, take mental notes of how it behaves under braking, acceleration, how it turns into corners, how easily you can hit the apex, how much traction you have when accelerating mid corner, what speed you can carry through the corner, how it feels when you hit a curb or a bump on the track or a transition of surfaces. This is where the whole tuning process really kicks off. Before we go any further however, remember to save your base tune, this is important as you can re-load it if you mess things up at a later stage. Think of it as saving your progress in a campaign.
I personally tend to start off with the Spring, Anti Roll Bars and Camber in synergy unless something else is seriously wrong, the BMW M3 can be a bit of a handful at times due to its tail happy nature so that needs to be the first characteristic that needs to be addressed. This can all be done through the “test drive function” on the tuning screen which can be activated by hitting the Y button. This is the stage where I would personally use the games telemetry screens to begin fine tuning, but this is a beginner’s guide and we don’t want things to get overly complicated. Instead I’m going to offer simple advice on some really basic fine tuning which, when applied correctly will help you create a good stable tune.
At this point it’s really easy to get lost in the moment and forget about what you’re here to do. Don’t fall into the trap of tumbling lap times without any doing fine tuning, all that’s happening is that you’re falling into your comfort zone, altering your driving based on the way the car feels right now. This works, but more often than not you’ll find that the car will revert to how it felt originally when put into the competitive environment of multiplayer. Instead try to make small changes as each lap goes on. Start with the camber of the wheels, the idea behind this is that you get a good consistent contact patch between the tyre and the track, to do this, you’ll need to press up on the on the D-Pad as you’re driving and cycle over to the tyre temperature screen. You want the tyre temperature to be as consistent as possible when hammering down the straights, if the inside of the tyres are considerable higher than that of the wheel then you need to adjust your camber accordingly until you see more consistent temperatures across the whole circumference of the tyre. Reducing tyre temperature will also see a drop in temperature. Whereas increasing it will see your tyres heat up more rapidly.
Remember not to go too extreme with your adjustments, this is a long draw out process that takes time to perfect, if you feel like you’re not getting anyway, you can always re-load your base tune.
Adjusting your Springs and Anti-Roll Bars will help you tame Oversteer/Understeer. The BMW M3 will always tend to favour Oversteer because the car is front heavy with the power is going to the rear wheels. Softening up your rear springs and anti-roll bars will ultimately make the rear of car handle better by favouring rear end grip. However this will also make the car favour understeer, so again you should avoid extremes, make small increments until you feel like you’ve found the right balance between understeer and oversteer. Remember sliding round corners may look cool, but it’s considerably slower than a controlled piece of precision driving. Of course, careful throttle control is the most important factor in cornering on Forza Motorsport 6.
Bump & Rebound stiffness helps the car rides over different surfaces, a lot of tracks in the game have mixture of different surfaces, high curbs and elevation changes that can upset the cars handling particularly in some of the stiffer more track focused cars in the game. This can get quite complicated so for the sake of keeping this as simple as possible I would only recommend altering stiffness by means of reducing it if the car struggles to stay in control when hitting bumps or curbs on the apex of corners.
Brakes are altered based on how they feel under use, many tuners make the mistake of using the games “braking distance” statistic which appears on the left hand side of the screen in the tuning setup section of the game. Instead try to ignore this and instead tune your brakes based on the actual in-game performance, tune them to work with how you use them. If you find yourself locking up the wheels a lot, then you need to turn the pressure down. If you’re running wide on the entry of a corner, then chances are you either need to pull the trigger harder or turn the pressure up in the tuning section. Furthermore, the car will behave differently depending on where the pressure is going, if you have too much pressure going to the front wheels, then the car will try to drift under heavy braking forcing you to apply corrective lock on the approach to a corner, this can be fixed by reducing the pressure percentage sending more of the pressure to the rear brakes. Alternatively if you find that the front of the car slides out wide under braking, then you need to set the balance up further toward the front. Finding that correct balance is key to improving your lap times.
Gearing is incredibly complicated and I would advise that beginners just stick to using the “Final Drive” slider to do their tuning, this can be done effectively with either the Sports or Race Gearbox upgrade but I’ve noticed that on some cars the Sport upgrade ratios can often neglect the final gear. Use the slider based on the track you’re driving on as you want to use as many of the gears as possible to keep the revs within the powerband of the engine. Longer tracks should favour speed while shorter tracks with lots of turns should favour tuning for acceleration.
Aerodynamics are usually the last thing I personally tweak, your base tune should have both front and rear Aero maxed to favour cornering, some cars allow you to put insane amounts of force on both front and rear so be sure to take that into consideration. Your base tune should have both front and rear maxed to favour cornering, I only really tend to reduce this if the car is completely stable when cornering at high-speed. If you find that reducing this makes the car more difficult to control then leave it as it is, but remember that the more force you have on the rear wing will significantly reduce the car’s top speed.
To conclude this little (big) guide, I just wanted to highlight that this is as basic as you can get as far as tuning goes and if you really want the full immersive experience. Then you should really spend some time with the in-game telemetry to do your joining. This is an incredibly long drawn out process that will take a long time to master. I personally have been tuning in Forza for as long as I can remember and have still not yet mastered what it takes to race with the boys heading the leaderboard. Base tunes only really scratch the surface of what you can do in Forza Motorsport and it’s worth considering that if you don’t have the time to commit you probably won’t be able to enjoy it for what it is. The best advice that I can give to anyone is that trial and error is really the best way to get to grips with the whole system, experiment with different set ups and compare your tunes to other people’s. Forza Motorsport has a great community filled with all manner of people who are willing to help. I hope that you found this guide somewhat helpful and I would personally love to hear from anyone that would like to offer me feedback.