Need for Speed, Nascar, Grid, Driveclub – it’s hard being just another a racing game among so many in this industry of ours. It’s also the fourth year in a row that we’re getting ourselves another Forza entry. If you were getting tired of fender benders and driving over mud puddles, then you just might love it in Forza 6: Motorsport if what I’ve been playing is any indication.
When Microsoft first unveiled it a decade ago, Forza was intended to be to Xbox what Gran Turismo was to Playstation: a racing sim that put players behind the wheel of realer cars and realer races. Just two weeks ahead of its September release, Forza 6 flexes its graphical muscles with all the spit and polish of its motor sport roots. At face value, its demo accomplishes exactly that on a grand scale. Its beautiful tracks and breathtaking vistas are everything you’ve come to expect from this console generation’s horsepower and its frame-rate stays solid despite the minimal presence of its Oompa Loompa-looking onlookers.
At its core, Forza 6 handles like a dream. Its cars control with a fine-tuned accuracy courtesy of the Xbox One controller’s underused and underrated triggers. Of the game’s whopping 460 vehicles, your first is the game’s cover car, the 2017 Ford GT –free with the full game for playing the demo. The thing roars like a lion and puts the “super” in “super car” blaring down the sunlit beauty of Rio de Janeiro’s starter race. A humble Nissan 350Z served me for the rest of the remainder of the 20-minute demo from among the demo’s select cars, painted in a military camo that just screamed “me.”
Wet-weather driving is another beast, let me tell you. More than a cosmetic, the stunning in-game rain effects make things interesting hydroplaning into an opponents or a pile of tires at high speeds, every mud puddle like a mine set to charge. Fortunately, puddles seem to stay in place regardless of replay enough to navigate around them in tracks like Sebring. It’s an engaging hurdle as much as it is a necessary evolution for the series’ daytime pleasure cruises complete with the charming pitter patter of raindrops falling on your windshield.
The game’s difficulty is a challenge of your own making, meanwhile. From the beginner’s mode of “New Racer” all the way to the humbling trial that is “Unbeatable,” Forza 6 is about as accessible as it can be to anyone who can use a controller. AI drivers are as aggressive as you make them to be, each of them making the demo’s offline races feel like a bonafide multiplayer match. I mostly drove at a doable “above average” which I would think aptly describes my skill, but any higher than that left me shaking my fist at the herd of formula one race cars that left me fighting for seventh place on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
One of the game’s smartest economic additions is its simplest. Level-up spins are Gaining a new XP level will grant you a free spin on a Press Your Luck-style board. The harder the race, the more XP you’ll gain while bonus rewards are up to a spin from the board, though they’re all equal in value, from in-game cash to million-dollar cars. It keeps the finish line fun and players invested. Everyone wins something.
The demo’s telling preview of Forza 6’s Mods are arguably the game’s only real concerns as much as they are the series’ innovation. Akin to Titanfall’s Burn Cards, mods are (theoretically) single-use, low-level upgrades for your car such as +6% to your braking for just one race. You have three slots you can place them in and you can buy more packs like Magic: The Gathering cards by spending in-game credits. Crew Mods, meanwhile, improve your stats, or “Dares,” which can rake in more XP for you after completing races under certain conditions – indefinitely. Though they add a wealth of diversity and customizability to your pit stop, they also smell ripe for nasty micro-transactions that I hope developer Turn 10 Studios’ isn’t tempted enough to explore. *sigh*
Though it’s likely a comparably limited look at the full game, Forza 6 is already looking like a far cry from the bare bones garage that was Forza 5 two years ago. If neither rain nor sleet nor dead of night will keep Forza from its appointed laps around the rack, then Forza 6 is clearly in a race to perfection should Turn 10 keep enough of the in-game “buy me!” signs out of its head. I hope any fears are proven wrong, because every racing fan should take note of any racing game half this slick.
Forza 6 Motorsport releases only for Xbox One on Sep. 15th in North America, Sep. 17th in Japan, and Sep. 18 in Europe. You can find its demo on Xbox Live as a free download.