Forza Motorsport 6 asks you why you race. Is it the pure sense of speed? Is it the sleek, polished designs of so many top-of-the-line super cars, in turn a sublime way to flex the power of the Xbox One to a new degree? Do you aim to prove yourself the best at Motorsport by leaving the online competition in your dust? Maybe, racing just speaks to you in some primal way?
That’s the funny thing about Forza Motorsport 6 though; It doesn’t really matter why you race. The important thing is that Forza Motorsport 6 is one of the best ways for serious car lovers to race, regardless of their gaming skill, without breaking the bank on owning an actual high-end vehicle, let alone many. The game is an easy contender to be one of the best console racers and car sims on the market right now, even beyond the realm of Xbox, and it completely obliterates the seemingly rushed, slimy and pay wall-riddled fiasco of its mainline predecessor, Forza Motorsport 5, which now feels like a clumsy relic of the Xbox One launch in comparison to its new follow-up.
If you were soured on the Forza Motorsport experience by the shaky Forza Motorsport 5, then Forza Motorsport 6 will easily coax you back, particularly since it thankfully shirks the money-grubbing practices of its predecessor. It no longer throws up pay walls left and right, and instead rolls out a steady stream of worthwhile content to earn and buy (without microtransactions this time), which makes Forza Motorsport 6 incredibly rich as a package, especially compared to the scaled-down and disappointing Forza Motorsport 5. In a lot of ways, Forza Motorsport 6 is what Forza Motorsport 5 should have been back during the Xbox One’s launch, in that it actually fully capitalizes on the power of the Xbox One to deliver an unparalleled racing game experience, and does so with a vast array of events, car options, and rewards.
If you have any love of cars or racing, even just a cosmetic appreciation for them, and you own an Xbox One, then Forza Motorsport 6 is a must-own game. Even if you have yet to invest in Microsoft’s current-gen console, Forza Motorsport 6 is one of many superb exclusives to the platform that will likely prove to be a decisive incentive for owning an Xbox One at last. Even amidst its sibling Xbox One exclusives of 2015 however, Forza Motorsport 6 shines as a love letter to car culture, racing, and pulse-pounding competition alike!
Forza Motorsport 6 raises the bar for Xbox One visuals, unfolding in gorgeous native 1080p resolution, and always keeping the racing at a brisk, reliable 60fps, even during crowded events and chaotic weather. It firmly leaves Forza Motorsport 5 in the dust from a visual standpoint, and even gives the equally gorgeous Forza Horizon 2 a run for its money as well! Some of the weather and track effects were a little more dynamic in Forza Horizon 2, but there’s no question that Forza Motorsport 6 is more intimately detailed in every other respect, with cars never looking sleeker and sexier, and tracks never looking more immersive and alive. Sometimes, the canned locations of rain puddles and dirt piles in contrast to the more reactive environmental physics of Forza Horizon 2 may disturb the illusion, but it happens very rarely, and even when it does, Forza Motorsport 6 is far too engrossing to make this feel like a real issue.
When you zoom in to a first-person cockpit view, that’s the best time to appreciate the incredible immersion that the game offers. Sure, you can enjoy things like the realistic kick-up of dust and smoke as you speed and drift along tracks when you go to an outer camera view, but when you move in to a first-person view, especially within the new Night and Rain tracks, you’ll be floored by how realistic and immersive Forza Motorsport 6 is! Replay footage sadly runs under 60fps, and is closer to 30fps, but during the races themselves, everything is given an incredible sense of lifelike atmosphere. You’ll feel every sense of speed and power as you drive everything from vintage favourites to upcoming future concept cars!
Even when playing online, the game tends to unfold well, when you manage to find a stable connection, and more on that later. The framerate is largely undisturbed during Xbox Live sessions, even during 24-player races, still animating speedily and holding up the full 60fps clip with aplomb. and that’s even when you have the busiest environmental rendering taking place as well, namely when you’re playing on a Rain track!
Forza Motorsport 6’s visuals are the key driving point behind its outstanding presentation. Even just admiring your cars in the Forzavista Mode, which you can activate by pressing the X Button on the main menu, feels like a treat, due to how incredibly detailed and polished the game and its many vehicles look! The graphics still hold up perfectly during the actual races as well, which easily achieve that white-knuckle excitement when your reflexes are pushed to their limits by the smooth 60fps framerate that never falters, even during the most tight and busy of races.
When it comes down to it, most car sims wish that they looked and handled this well!
Forza Motorsport 6 doesn’t seem to allow you to make use of custom soundtracks, which is disappointing, since the game’s music suite is pretty lacklustre. Most of it consists of understated percussive tunes that provide a middling backdrop to enhancing the competition, and players will pretty much entirely ignore it. It’s true that an over-dependence on obnoxious music would hurt the illusion that Forza Motorsport 6 is going to such painstaking lengths to maintain, but surely Turn 10 Studios could have composed something at least a little better than the weak, repetitive and apathetic tracks that are featured in the game, especially after the more impressive music variety offered in Forza Horizon 2 previously!
Fortunately, the far more impressive and gripping sound effects help to compensate for the lacklustre music. The individual roar of each car’s engine gives them all their own sense of ferocious might and identity, and the way that engine noises respond realistically to speed, road conditions and torque is highly impressive. It even felt like more narrow and busy tracks had sounds feel like they were reverberating more frequently, as they would in real life, and that represents a massive commitment to great sound design on the part of Turn 10 Studios! Sure, most of what you’ll be listening to throughout the game is the same purr of your various cars’ engines, but when they’re this lifelike and detailed, even that never gets old.
Some of the menus feature commentary by automotive reporters, and your usual information lady that narrates your progression in the Career Mode, and helpfully vocally outlines new features and options to you the first time you stumble across them. If you’re a fan of Top Gear as well, rest assured that Forza Motorsport’s partnership with Top Gear, which has been in place since Forza Motorsport 4 in the Xbox 360 days, is still intact in Forza Motorsport 6, though only James May and Richard Hammond are commentators in the latest installment. Obviously, after Jeremy Clarkson’s unceremonious firing from the BBC series, he doesn’t return for Forza Motorsport 6.
The audio in Forza Motorsport 6 is just as extraordinarily lifelike as the visuals are, though the weak music drags it down a bit. Forza Horizon 2 provides so much appeal in allowing you to charge and drift to the rapturous melodies of classical music, among so many other options, but, no such luck in Forza Motorsport 6, where you have no control over the static selection of thankless music. At least those car engines sound fantastic though!
Forza Motorsport 6 is incredibly rich with play modes, challenges, and many proud, empowering ways to enjoy all makes of vehicles, from classics to cutting-edge professional super cars. It’s not only the most polished and impressive Forza Motorsport game to date, but also one of the most rewarding racers available to gamers at present!
As you take in Forza Motorsport 6’s many options, you’ll find that car enthusiasts of all walks of gaming skill are welcome. If you want to push your skills to the limits, and hone your reflexes and racing stamina as much as possible, then you can crank the difficulty of your Drivatar opponents, or hop on Xbox Live and take on the best of the best. Even if you just want to start with a leisurely test drive, likely starting with the very slick 2017 Ford GT cover car, you can do so in either Free Play or Test Drive modes, depending on whether or not you want other racers to be involved. Don’t have enough in-game Credits to buy the car you want to take for a spin? No problem! Forza Motorsport 6 allows you to rent and use any of its massive 460-car roster in Free Play and Test Drive at no cost (again, entirely eliminating the horrendous pay walls in Forza Motorsport 5), effectively opening up any car you could ever want right from the get-go! On the flip side however, you won’t earn Credits from rented cars in Free Play. You can only do so with vehicles you actually own.
Likewise, in the Career Mode, which serves as the backbone of the single-player content in Forza Motorsport 6, you’re limited to using compatible makes of cars, out of the cars you already own. In fact, Career Mode is more intensely regulated in Forza Motorsport 6 than it was in Forza Motorsport 5, which might bug some people who enjoyed the more freeform progression of that game’s Career Mode. If you upgrade your car for Free Play or Xbox Live sessions, those upgrades are stripped out in Career Mode, if they’re deemed to be unfair. You at least get to customize and share Tunes, as per usual for the series’ recent installments, but Forza Motorsport 6’s Career Mode sometimes feels rigid and a bit dull, simply amounting to the same straightforward races with the same straightforward objective of placing in 4th place or above.
You at least get to pick which Car Division you want to take on in each Volume of the Career Mode, on the bright side, which is divided into five Series’, each representing a different level of racing culture, and you proceed through them in a strictly linear fashion. It’s good that the game allows you to pick whichever car variety you’re most comfortable with when progressing through Career Mode, especially since you’ll rarely have an issue with having enough Credits to buy any cars you may need to enter a certain Car Division, at least before you get to the most high-end vehicles. Whether you want to race classic cars, current cars, fast cars, durable cars, experimental cars, or anything in between, there’s a Car Division that will accommodate you. Sadly though, this, and choosing from compatible makes of cars to drive (so long as you can afford them), are pretty much the only customization that is offered in Career Mode. The Career Mode is at least more accessible than ever in Forza Motorsport 6, but hardcore Forza fans will probably find it to be a bit bland and overly-regulated.
Fortunately, you also have the option of participating in Showcases, which you can unlock by passing certain milestones in Career Mode, as well as beating other Showcases. This is where events become more varied and interesting, such as weaving through cone placements while carefully controlling your speed, knocking over bowling pins with careful drifts, and trying to place first on a single lap against cars that get a sizeable head start on you. The Showcases are challenging and fun, and they provide the offline component of Forza Motorsport 6 with its most varied set of play options.
Of course, everything in the game is so refined and enjoyable not just because of the many play options you can enjoy when playing by oneself, but also because of the usual helping of outstanding fundamental game design that has made the Forza series a market leader in the world of racing sims. Once again, Drivatars make a return in the absence of live human opponents, yet again being based around the habits and tags of real-life Forza players, rather than pre-determined A.I. This makes even single-player races feel incredibly exciting and unpredictable, since Drivatars may flawlessly clear a track and leave you in their wake, or they may suddenly botch a curve and wipe out hard, finding themselves at the back of the pack. This element of random fallibility makes the Drivatars feel like racing actual human players, not superhuman A.I. creations, and that’s a huge part of why it’s so great to race in Forza Motorsport 6! Of course, you are able to tweak Drivatar behaviour and difficulty, in case you want a challenge, or a breezier experience, with the game granting you better Credits payouts for taking on more challenges with the Drivatars, and gently encouraging you to step up your game when you’ve displayed that you have enough skills to take it to the next level of difficulty.
If you fall in the camp of less skilled racing gamers, Forza Motorsport 6 helps you get around its staggering realism and simulation elements in the racing by allowing you to place Assists on things like driving, traction and braking, helping you maintain control of the vehicle, even if you have a hard time wrapping your head around high-speed driving and turning. As with the Drivatars, you earn less Credits when you place Assists on your driving, but this nonetheless eliminates the barrier of entry that would be present in most other competing racing sims. As long as you have an appreciation for cars, Forza Motorsport 6 has you covered, whether you’re an esteemed gearhead or just a passing admirer, whether you prefer to drive automatic or manual, or indeed, whether you know your way around an Xbox One controller or not. As usual, you can also plug in an Xbox One Wheel peripheral for extra immersion and responsiveness if you wish, though Forza Motorsport 6 still handles beautifully and reliably with its streamlined and comfortable control scheme on a regular Xbox One controller.
All of this is stuff that you may already remember from prior Forza games however. What exactly is new in Forza Motorsport 6?
Well, to start, tracks now have a Night and Rain variation, as I mentioned. These effectively alter driving conditions to make previously familiar tracks, particularly those that return from prior Forza Motorsport games, suddenly feel like whole new experiences! On top of the environmental effects looking absolutely amazing, and pushing the Xbox One to new visual heights, as I also mentioned, they also present new challenges to conquer. Night tracks obviously limit visibility, and can make tight corners and longer stretches of road feel especially dangerous. Likewise, Rain tracks offer less traction, and running over puddles can even cause your car to hydroplane and skid, without the ability to brake.
The water physics on Rain tracks feel a tad exaggerated, which is distracting amidst the other incredibly real sim elements, but I understand their basis in the gameplay experience. It’s still disappointing that you can easily anticipate and avoid the puddles in Rain tracks, since their locations never change, but driving around them makes for a new way to manage your speed and handling carefully, especially when you’re surrounded by many other cars! There’s no tracks that blend Night and Rain conditions, though that’s probably for the best, since that might be a bit overwhelming from a gameplay standpoint.
The other big new feature in Forza Motorsport 6 is Mods, which seem to take some inspiration from the trading card-like booster pack system of some EA Sports games. There are five increasingly expensive packs of Mods that you can buy with any Credits you earn, with more expensive packs giving you a higher chance of netting rarer and more valuable Mods. You get five Mods per pack, and they’re random, similar to buying a trading card booster pack. You may get an all-new set of great Mods, or you may get a stinker selection of five Mods that you already have. Fortunately though, you can sell Mods that you don’t want for a small Credit rebate, even if that’s small consolation for when you get a bad batch of Mods after spending a bunch of Credits on a pack.
So, what exactly do Mods do? Well, they come in three types: Crew Mods, Dare Mods and Consumable Mods. Crew Mods can only be attached one-at-a-time to your car, but they provide a permanent stat boost in some area or two as long as they’re equipped, such as making your handling smoother, increasing your engine power, or adding to the responsiveness of your brakes. Consumable Mods can fill up as many of your three Mod slots as you want, granting higher EXP and Credit payouts, as well as giving you payouts for certain feats while racing, though they disappear after the race is finished. Finally, Dare Mods work like the Skulls from the Halo series, intentionally crippling your car with less streamlined controls, placing you further back in the starting pack, or taking away HUD prompts, among other things. Like the Consumable Mods, you can apply Dare Mods to any open slot at your leisure, and like Crew Mods, they aren’t expended at the end of the race. Using Dare Mods will net you additional Credit payouts after races though, assuming you win of course, and they’re another clever way for avid Forza fans to really hone their skills, especially since a handful of them are necessary to earn achievements, though this makes the fact that Mod Packs are random feel a bit annoying.
So do Mods alter gameplay that much? Frankly, not really. You can get through the entire game without ever really using them. They are a cool feature though, and they add further customization to what’s already an incredibly customizable and rewarding game. The Consumable Mods and Crew Mods are a small help at best, though the Dare Mods definitely make things more interesting for hardcore players, and feel like they’re most worth seeking out. I must commend Turn 10 Studios for resisting the urge to base Mods around real-world money and microtransactions as well, when they could have easily asked for real cash for every Mod Pack. Clearly, Microsoft and Turn 10 Studios have learned their lesson from the failings of Forza Motorsport 5, and Forza Motorsport 6 is a better game for it!
This brings me to the online multiplayer arena of Xbox Live, and fortunately, the flexibility and variety of the single-player gameplay is also offered in the multiplayer. Players can undertake simple races against different classes of cars, or play specialty modes like Drag Racing, where players engage in a raw contest of speed on a straight path, or Infected, a fan-favourite (for good reason) that has racers trying desperately to avoid coming into contact with ‘infected’ cars. Turn 10 Studios has also added in the ability to play in a League, which has your gameplay broadcast to a large, spectating audience, and can grant you better Credits payouts as you move up in the Xbox Live Leaderboard. This is a superb mode for the most competitive of Forza players, though if your skills are less than top-notch, the game at least does you the courtesy of pairing you with players of a similar skill level in League Play. As with Career Mode, online races also make sure that players have the same level of upgrades in their car, to avoid unfair advantages and disadvantages.
Fundamentally, the multiplayer in Forza Motorsport 6 is just as outstanding as the single-player gameplay, though sadly, it’s marred by some unfortunate technical flaws. The worst of these is that server connections are very unstable at this point, and even almost a month after launch, Forza Motorsport 6’s multiplayer servers are very unreliable. It takes quite a bit of waiting to get into a race in most cases as it stands, but waiting all that time, only to be randomly ejected from a lobby, is incredibly frustrating. Likewise, races will sometimes abruptly end halfway through because the server disconnected, so whether you’re winning or losing, all of those stats that you’re accruing go right in the toilet. Sometimes, the multiplayer servers won’t even let you connect at all either, so Xbox Live races may simply be off-limits to you for that play session, if you’re especially unlucky.
There are times where you can play online without incident, and when connections stabilize, the game doesn’t present any lag or loading issues, or anything of the sort. Too often though, playing Forza Motorsport 6 online comes with a sense of uneasiness, since abrupt disconnections happen at pure random. It’s not at the level of the infamously broken multiplayer that Halo: The Master Chief Collection suffered from for months on end, but it’s still an issue that hurts the multiplayer experience of Forza Motorsport 6, and Turn 10 Studios needs to fix it.
Still, the gameplay of Forza Motorsport 6 is nonetheless polished to perfection. Whether you’re about building your car collection, honing your skills, or just enjoying the rush, there are few, if any racing sims available that offer an experience as flexible and rewarding as the one in this game!
Forza Motorsport 6 represents the very pinnacle of the racing sim experience as we know it. It’s a game that finally provides the feature-packed and expertly refined exclusive racer that the Xbox One deserves, succeeding where Forza Motorsport 5 failed.
No matter what kind of experience you want, whether you want to simply enjoy the ride, or truly push yourself to a new realm of racing supremacy, Forza Motorsport 6 offers it, and offers it better than the competition. Its all-new features are great icing on the cake to boot, with new environmental conditions that force you to re-think the way you race, and exciting modifiers like Mods and Leagues that help push your racing experience to the next level of challenge.
As per usual though, the real stars of the latest Forza offering are the cars, all 460 of them that are contained in the main game, and that’s before the suite of DLC options that will no doubt come later. As a package, Forza Motorsport 6 is simply unparalleled, especially when it comes to the cars, with players being spoiled for choice as to the many generations of vehicles they can hit the track with, and how polished and immersively they handle.
Many racing sims boast it, but Forza Motorsport 6 has earned the right to say that this is the next best thing to the real thing. When it comes to recreating the experience of immersive, high-powered driving, Forza Motorsport 6 is as good as it gets.
- Tons of cars and play options
- Gorgeous, perfectly refined racing and showcases
- Environmental variants and Leagues add fantastic new challenges
- Career Mode is a bit dull
- Music is repetitive and underwhelming
- Xbox Live servers currently have connectivity issues