If the first Forza of this generation was all about the Turn 10 team getting up to speed with Xbox One technology, the second is all about content. Hugely expanded over its fifth outing with more than 450 cars, 26 tracks with well over 100 different configurations, and a myriad of racing activities to participate in, Forza Motorsport 6 sees the series return with a game that feels comprehensive and sprawling. It’s also a technical tour-de-force.
Having made major missteps with Forza 5, Turn 10 has recognized and rectified where necessary. While its predecessor was a tight-fisted, condensed racing experience with a cut-down list of cars and tracks, Forza 6 is generous and dauntingly broad, more in line with series high-point Forza 4. It has also excised the monetization that plagued the Xbox One launch title and, while these shifts aren’t enough to make Forza 6 truly exemplary, it’s still a fantastic ride.
Presented in full 1080p and running at 60 fps, the silky smooth Forza 6 looks absolutely stunning. There’s so much more detail this time around. Whether it’s morning mist floating above the racetrack or flocks of birds taking off as you drive past, this is a racer that’s quite simply the best-looking game of its type. There’s a certain crispness and intricacy about Forza 6’s detailing that puts its competitors in the shade. Buildings look realistic, and they feature modeled interiors, sometimes lit from the inside. Trackside objects are totally convincing, trees and other foliage look completely natural, and the lighting and shadows are spot on. Even the crowd looks impressive.
Not only does it run at 1080p and at an unflinching 60 frames per second, but it has been put together with precision. The downside is long load times, but the plusses outweigh the minuses. Navigating menus is clean and pristine, and there’s still much joy to be found in looking at cars up close in Autovista, peeking in bonnets to look at glorious V8 engines and hearing the satisfying “clunk” of doors unhinging open as you clamber in.
This is a game that feels as premium as the Ferraris and Lamborghinis that sit in its 450-strong garage. With a car roster of this size, not only is it impressive that Turn 10 has achieved such a level of consistency, but it’s also a testament to the studio’s understanding of motorsport that every car still feels distinct and unique to drive: 1960s open-wheel racers join family saloons and 4x4s, with each vying for your attention. Like the environments, the car models are also absolutely top-of-the-line. From the humble, boxy lines of the ’65 Mini Cooper S to the swooping glory of the new 2015 Ford GT, all the cars are exceptionally well presented in meticulous Forzavista detail. Apart from a few tiny nitpicks here and there – the lights on some of the older cars can look a little on the flat side – the car models are without doubt the best I’ve seen in any racing game. Most look truly fantastic.
Matching the exteriors are the cars’ exceptional interiors. The modeling here is once again exquisite. The dials and dashboard look very convincing, and the way the light interacts with them makes them feel solid and realistic. Even detailing like the reflection of the steering wheel can be seen in the windscreen, depending on lighting conditions. There’s just so much attention to detail that helps create a game that is totally immersive, and tricks your brain into thinking it’s looking at something real.
The big headline additions this time out are night and wet weather racing. While the rain isn’t quite as torrential as the monsoon-like conditions of Project CARS – and conditions also don’t change during a race – Forza 6 is a phenomenal wet-weather racer. The friction modeling on puddles is really quite uncannily realistic, and when there’s standing water – and in the case of Brands Hatch, impressive-sized lakes – on the racing line, you really have to drive carefully to avoid hydroplaning off the track. The end result is that Forza 6’s wet weather conditions deliver some serious white-knuckle racing that feels truly exciting. Picking your way around a wet track is quite challenging: running one of your tires in a puddle will see your car being pulled to one side, and hitting a pool of water while cornering results in a temporary loss of grip that, depending on your entry speed, can see you coasting way off the apex and potentially off the track. This feels like true wet weather racing – not just a regular track turned slippery
Night racing is a little less exciting, but no less technically polished. Here it’s all about the lighting model, and again, Forza 6 delivers. From the glow of braking lights to the headlights reflecting on trackside objects and other cars, night racing feels exceptionally realistic. Under certain conditions, even multiple shadows are cast by different light sources. It looks astonishing.
But that’s not all. There are also Showcases – racing events where you drive specific cars in a wide variety of challenges. There are ten categories of these, and each features between five and thirteen different events. Examples include Factory Spec Racing, Track Day Shootouts, Moments in Motorsports, which is basically historic car racing, Top Gear challenges, which includes crazy stuff like car bowling, Autocross events, and even Stig challenges where you race his royal Stigness himself.
Career Mode and Showcases combine to deliver a huge volume of content, and it’s not quantity over quality. Drivatars are generally great. I’ve had a lot of fun racing, and they’re about as good as it gets AI-wise. At high levels they drive very intelligently, and yet still occasionally make very realistic-looking mistakes, like braking too late, or over-correcting. It’s this slight randomness that makes the AI opponents feel very human-like, and helps keep the racing interesting. If you don’t fancy racing against computer drivers, there’s always Rivals. Here, there’s a compendium of leaderboards that spans everything that the game has to offer: every track configuration is represented, as is every level of car. Those who like multiplayer activities are also extremely well catered for. Like Rivals, there is a series of rotating events, and you’re also able to set up a race series tailored to your own specific tastes.
So is it perfect? It’s definitely getting there, but I do have a few complaints here and there. Still no Porsches, unfortunately. No RUF either, which is a shame. Sorting through cars can be a little cumbersome and slow, but most of the other menus are pretty straightforward and well designed. The loading time for some menus and races is a little on the slow side, but understandable considering what’s being loaded. Oh, and unless I managed to miss them, where are the wet tires? If the game has wet weather conditions, there should be the option for wet weather tires, unless they’re automatically put on for you. However, I didn’t notice anything telling me that.
Where Forza 5 was a slow slog at times, Forza 6 moves so much quicker, even stealing Forza Horizon’s lucky-spin tombola that spits credits or free cars at you to make curating a garage so much more rewarding. Race mods act like perk cards and attempt to add even more variation into individual events, which can be single-use boosts to your grid position or to car performance, or event-based parameters such as being locked to cockpit view. Using mods affects your credit bonuses at the end of each race, and despite adding color to individual events I found myself forgetting about them as they felt like an inessential obstacle.