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Forza Motorsport 6

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2015 (US), Sept. 18, 2015 (EU)


Xbox One Preview - 'Forza Motorsport 6'

by Adam Pavlacka on Sept. 1, 2015 @ 4:01 a.m. PDT

Forza Motorsport 6 is the latest installment in the racing game franchise, featuring the debut of Ford Motor Company's all-new GT and its entire new performance line.

With a mere 10 days to go until Forza Motorsport 6 Ultimate Edition becomes available to the general public (buyers of the standard edition have to wait an additional five days to play), the latest iteration of the Forza franchise is almost here. Exclusive to the Xbox One (unlike last year's Forza Horizon 2, there is no corresponding Xbox 360 version), Forza Motorsport 6 returns to the track and focuses on pure racing.

We had the chance to sit down with the game last week and played through the first two hours, which is more or less the same content that is available in the 13 GB demo currently available for download on Xbox Live. The two biggest changes over Forza Motorsport 5 are the addition of water and the elimination of microtransactions.

We saw rain and water in Forza Horizon 2, but according to the developers at Turn 10, the team has gone the extra step with Forza Motorsport 6 and individually modeled how water interacts with each surface. That means that driving over wet pavement will feel different than driving over wet grass. Rain won't just partially obscure your view; you also have to be wary of standing water, unless you want to risk hydroplaning when you hit it.

Visually the water effects look good, especially when you're in photo mode. Getting into and out of photo mode feels faster and more responsive than it did in Forza Horizon 2, so there is more of a temptation to hop in and look for those dramatic snaps. Even though I was playing under a time limit — Microsoft's PR rep had a hard stop at exactly two hours of play time — I couldn't resist pulling up photo mode.

The actual driving simulation is solid, though coming from Forza Horizon 2, there is definitely more of a "sim" feel than an "arcade" feel. I'm not exactly sure how much was due to my skill level or if there was just a larger dead zone than normal on the controller I was using at the preview event, but driving on the track with a Honda S2000 felt more squirrelly than I expected. Still, I managed to get used to it, since Forza Motorsport 6 requires you to pass a qualifying race before moving on.

After the first qualifying event, the game introduced the concept of mod packs. These mod packs aren't direct car mods; rather they are game mods that can impact a specific race or overall performance. Think of them as similar to booster packs in Hearthstone.

For my first mod pack, I got an "Improved Payout" card, an "Improved Grid Position" card and a "Grip Specialist" card. The first two cards were single use, while the "Grip Specialist" card was multiuse. "Improved Payout" offered a 10% credit boost on any race it was used on, while "Improved Grid Position" moved me up one spot in the starting grid. "Grip Specialist" granted a 6% improvement in overall grip, regardless of the car used, on all tracks and 12% improvement on Yas Marina. Up to three mod pack cards could be applied per race, and extra mod packs can be purchased with race winnings.

Speaking of winnings, Forza Motorsport 6 is supposed to be launching without microtransactions. While you can buy cars and mod packs with your in-game winnings, players shouldn't have to worry about spending real money. The Turn 10 developers heard the complaints about the Forza Motorsport 5 economy, and they aren't keen to repeat the same mistake.

One way of collecting bonus cash (and cars) is via the bonus spinner. Similar to what we saw in Forza Horizon 2, the spinner appears every time you level up. The spinner itself is random, but some of the prizes can be awesome. I was lucky enough to hit the center square on my first two spins, which meant I ended up with a free Bugatti Veyron and a bonus 1,000,000 credits. Other media at the preview event weren't quite as lucky. Sadly, the preview profiles don't carry over to the retail game.

In addition to winning races and leveling up your driver, you can also earn credits by leveling up your affinity for a certain brand. Keep driving the same brand of car (Honda, Lotus, etc.), and you will earn affinity experience points. For every affinity level, you are granted bonus credits.

Turn 10 is promising that Forza Motorsport 6's career mode will take more than 70 hours to complete, and that's not even counting the time you can spend in the free play, test drive and multiplayer modes. Split-screen is supported, should you want to go head-to-head locally, but the real draw is the support for online competition. Forza Race Leagues promise both competitive racing and the ability to spectate. When you don't have other people to race against, Forza Motorsport 6 makes use of Drivatar technology.

Last, but not least, is the livery editor. Due to time limitations, I didn't get to spend any time editing a custom design, but Forza Motorsport 6 offers the same flexibility as its predecessors. You'll be able to craft your own masterpiece and import designs made by other players.

Playing for a mere two hours is just a snapshot of the whole experience, but it was enough to leave a positive impression. It'll be interesting to see if the full version of Forza Motorsport 6 truly offers the depth of Forza Horizon 2, or if it ends up feeling somewhat bare-bones, like Forza Motorsport 5. Either way, we'll know the answer soon enough.

Editor's Note: Check out Forza Motorsport 6 in action with this race in the rain on Sebring International Raceway.

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