When the Xbox One hit shelves in 2013, Forza Motorsport 5 was there as one of the launch title games available on the new console. Two years into the Xbox One's existence, its landmark racing franchise is back again with Forza Motorsport 6. This time around, there are more cars and tracks to go along with new ways to challenge your racing skills. It's still the same racing simulator that fans love, yet it improves on its predecessor to keep the series fresh.
The New Stuff
One would think that a 200-car roster in a game like Forza 5 is impressive, but for many it was a disappointment. The diversity of types and manufacturers weren't enough for some, or a favorite model wasn't included. Forza 6 wants to change that by offering more than twice the previous number — 460, to be exact. More tracks were added as well, bringing the previous number of 17 courses to a new total of 26.
To make these tracks harder, the game now includes rainy weather along with the added realism of a wet track. Specifically, this means that players will not only have to deal with bad visibility thanks to the rain and cars in front of a player spewing a tail of water, but also hydroplaning. Puddles of varying sizes form at multiple points in the track, and driving through any one of them will not only slow you down, but will send the car sliding into unwanted territory. This makes avoiding other cars, braking plans on a corner, and passing rivals for first place that much more difficult.
Changes also appear even before the race starts with the introduction of Mods, which are various cards that can provide a variety of rewards and challenges to each race. They are divided into three main categories — Dare, Crew, and Boost. At the beginning, you have only a few cards available, but you can unlock more by using the in-game credits to purchase more (and rarer) cards through packs. It's important to note that only one of each card is allowed per race.
Dare mods offer extra rewards at the expense of a few challenges to the race. Your view might be restricted to the car's cockpit, you start the race from the back, or you have extra weight on your car. If you can meet each race's objectives, which usually entails staying in the top three positions, you earn a few more credits for your troubles. Crew cards help with overall performance, providing a few extra percentage points to overall grip, less weight, or more power. Some even provide a higher boost on certain tracks.
Unlike Dare and Crew mods, which can be used repeatedly, Boost mods provide a one-race, temporary upgrade that is then discarded after the race is over. If you're a die-hard racing fan and have the damage option set to simulation, a Boost mod can prevent any wear and tear on a car in the first lap. The cards are also used to provide an increase in credits or experience points earned regardless of your position at the end of the race.
Speaking of experience, leveling up now grants access to a random prize grid, similar to the prize wheel mechanic in the series spin-off Forza Horizon 2. Depending on where the illuminated square lands, you can win extra prizes for each level earned, such as more credits and cars. The middle square of the pack provides the rarest prize, usually a higher lump sum of one million credits, or in my case, Audi's famed racing car from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the R18 e-tron quattro.
Go, Go, Go
Depending on your driving skills, you can tweak the game's difficulty to include or exclude the various levels of driving assistance provided by the computer. Regardless of your level, Forza 6 is still able to capture your attention from start to finish. Long straights are pedestals for your car to reach its top speed, while various degrees of corners will test your braking, turning and overtaking skills.
The new rain feature makes it all more exciting. Races in the rain are slightly more intense due to cars jockeying for pole position while avoiding slick parts of the track. You could be in a head to head race for first position, but a slight mishap due to a rain puddle can ruin championships. Combine that with the overall wetness of the track, and it has the makings of a nail-biting and edge-of-your-seat race, all thanks to some moisture.
When you want to take a break from your career, multiple alternatives are available, such as driving a car you might buy or participating in one of the many showcase events that offer a unique experience, from racing classic GT cars to a fun game of 10-pin bowling on the Top Gear track.
All of these events are filled with Driveatars, the system introduced in Forza 5, which simulated the driving habits of other players and brought them to your game. For the uninitiated, this means a more aggressive style of play that makes each race seem more like a game of bumper cars than professional motorsport.
However, it also provides a more "online" feel to the game. Rather than facing computer-generated opponents, these Driveatars resemble real players. In turn, the game creates your own Driveatar and puts it in various Forza races in other consoles, creating an entire system of "real-world" opponents.
Even in this level of reality, there is one glaring mistake. The Mods system seems to make the entire experience arcade-like. Players can still tune their cars' various setups in the game, but doing it seems unnecessary when a card provides a little more grip or power in the car.
Obviously, this only points towards the Crew and Boost cards, and rightfully so. Dare seems to be the only one worth using, as it provides a challenge instead of an out-of-place, needless advantage that can easily win races. The main Forza series is more of racing simulator. If anything, these Mods should be in the more casual Forza Horizon games where the focus is less on simulation and more on the Need for Speed style of gameplay by driving on courses outside of conventional racing tracks.
With Forza Motorsport 6, the developers at Turn 10 Studios found more than one way to improve the series. More cars and tracks was an easy bet from the start, but adding rainy weather to the game made it all the more enjoyable. Plus, the areas of customization through appearance, performance and fine tuning are still around, giving players the ability to not only drive their dream car (I'm looking at you, Shelby Mustang GT500), but to tweak it inside and out to give it the look and performance worthy of a car on a professional race track.
This latest entry puts the series back into the race (no pun intended) for the top racing simulator in the industry. Recent titles, most notably, Project Cars, made their marks prior to Forza 6, but seeing as Forza is an Xbox exclusive, our eyes will now turn to Sony and its famous Gran Turismo franchise to see if it can somehow beat this fun, yet intense game of motorsport.