Forza Motorsport 6

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Release Date: 2016


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Windows 10 Preview - 'Forza Motorsport 6: Apex'

by Adam Pavlacka on March 1, 2016 @ 6:00 a.m. PST

Forza Motorsport 6: Apex brings the Forza franchise to Windows 10. This free Forza experience features new race modes designed to showcase Forza Motorsport 6 in graphics at up to 4K resolution.

When it comes to racing games, Turn 10's Forza Motorsport franchise has a history of setting benchmarks in the genre. The franchise has consistently raised the bar, both for visual quality and simulation accuracy as the years have progressed. Now, Forza is coming to Windows 10, but not quite as you might expect. Rather than release the full version of the game, Microsoft and Turn 10 have brought over a highly curated version of the experience. Forza Motorsport 6: Apex may not have all the cars or tracks of the console version, but it does have one big advantage:  It's completely free.

Unlike most free-to-play games, Forza Motorsport 6: Apex actually sounds like it will be completely free. During the demo, the Turn 10 rep stated that the goal with Apex was to create a showcase for UWP (Universal Windows Platform) and Windows 10. In that regard, the game is as much a tech demo as it is a freebie for players, since Microsoft wants to push UWP. What better way to do that than to show what the platform can do by porting a demanding game?

"We're a first-party team. We work for Microsoft. More than anything, we showcase Microsoft's capabilities," the Turn 10 rep said. "We see this as a gift to the Windows 10 gamer."

On the technical side, Apex was running on a Windows 10 computer, with an Intel i7-6700k CPU, 32GB RAM, NVidia 980 Ti and a SSD. Those are not final specs, but the alpha build was able to achieve 60 fps at 4K during the demo on that hardware, with the in-game graphics setting at "Ultra." The final version of Apex is expected to run on less powerful hardware.

So what do you get with Apex? The game includes six courses, with multiple variants per course and more than 60 different cars. It's not going to compare with the full version of Forza Motorsport 6 on the Xbox One, but it is certainly much more than a basic demo. The courses included with Apex are Brands Hatch, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Rio de Janeiro, Sebring International Raceway, Top Gear Test Track, and Yas Marina Circuit.

The main menu has also been trimmed down compared to its console counterpart, with Driver Record, Free Play, Spotlight and Tours all being prominent options on the screen. Driver Record is where you can view your past performance. Free Play is the same as it is on the console.

Spotlight is designed to keep Apex fresh for players, with new events being released over time. This is where those new events will appear.

Tours is going to be the main "career mode" of Apex. In Tours mode, you'll enter race events and compete to complete objectives. Objectives earn race points, and race points earn medals. There are a total of 36 medals to earn.

Secondary options include the Forza Hub, Forzavista, Marketplace, Message Center and Options. Forza Hub should launch the hub app, while Forzavista allows you to view your cars in exquisite detail. No word yet on what will be available in the Marketplace. The Message Center offers in-game info, while Options is self-explanatory.

It's worth noting that Apex will not have real-time multiplayer. You will be able to compete with friends for leaderboard times and can race against Drivatars, but you will not be racing head-to-head like you can on the console. There is also no detailed tuning planned for Apex, but quick tune options should be available.

Other features that did make the jump to the PC include full support for replays and achievements. Custom liveries should be available at launch, as well as photo mode. Forza in-game photography has become something of a hobby for fans, so the prospect of shooting photo mode shots in 4K is pretty enticing.

Despite all of the features it does pack into the package, the elephant in the room is the lack of wheel support at launch. Wheel support is important to the Turn 10 team, but it's something of a chicken-and-the-egg problem for them at the moment due to UWP being so new. The rep showing off the demo said that part of the goal behind creating Apex was so that peripheral manufacturers would have something to develop against.

"We're using [Forza Motorsport 6: Apex] to make UWP and DX12 better," the Turn 10 rep said. "The goal is to make UMP the racing developer's platform of choice."

Forza Motorsport 6: Apex may not be the "full" Forza experience, but if the Turn 10 team can deliver on its promise, it may end up serving as the benchmark for what is possible for high-end games on UWP.

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