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Forza Motorsport 6 hands-on preview – environmentally conscious

by Eric Frederiksen | June 16, 2015June 16, 2015 6:30 am PDT

Forza Motorsport is always going to be about the cars first, but with Forza Motorsport 6, the focus is shifting toward the world around the cars just a little bit.

Since the beginning of Forza, the main line of Motorsport titles have featured races set at a given time of day, usually midday, sometimes sunset or sunrise. Silverstone Circuit was always cloudy. Forza Motorpsort 6 is going to change that up by introducing the elements into the game for the first time, as well as the option to set the time of day for night racing.

Night time racing is going to affect certain modes more than others. When you’re on a track full of cars – up to 24 this time around instead of 16 – there’s a lot more light available, and seeing the track in front of your isn’t difficult. However, this iteration looks to change things up by offering some more in-depth single player activities like showcase races that will put you in a certain set of conditions which could, for example, put you on a track, alone, at night. I’m not sure if that exact situation is going to happen, but something like that or playing in Forza Motorsport’s Rivals mode will give players a significantly darker track to contend with.

Weather, however, will totally change the way a track reacts. Laser-scanned tracks in Forza ensure that every little bump and divot in a track is faithfully rendered. In rain, these will fill in to create puddles. Forza Motorsport 6 builds on the weather featured in last year’s Forza Horizon 2 but takes a more simulated approach to things. Hydroplaning is a very real fear now, and even one wheel hitting a puddle the wrong way can cause loss of control just the way it can in a real situation. I talked to Forza Motorsport 6‘s executive producer Ryan Cooper, who told me that bringing weather into Forza Motorsport (as opposed to Forza Horizon) was, more than anything, a matter of being able to simulate properly the conditions the weather creates. Forza Motorsport, for all its accessibility, is still a simulation, and Cooper said the team didn’t want to bring rain into the game if they couldn’t simulate it satisfactorily.

The game will sport 26 tracks compared to the Forza 5‘s 17, including both real-world tracks like Daytona International Speedway, Brands Hatch and Watkins Glen, and fictional tracks set in real-world locations like the new Rio de Janeiro track, which it sounds like will be the showpiece for this Forza the way the Prague track was for Forza 5. Cooper said that the team isn’t talking yet about DLC tracks – one of Forza 5‘s best features were the free downloadable tracks that hit after release. We’re hoping to see those come back again.

The team isn’t talking about what cars have joined the now over 450 available in Forza Motorsport 6, but he did give me some insight into how we’ll see the Porsche license appear in Forza 6. It recently hit Forza for the first time with Forza Horizon 2‘s Porsche DLC pack. The manufacturer will hit Forza 6, Cooper said, in 2016 – meaning it’ll be a DLC pack after the fact. He couldn’t say whether it was paid or not, but did confirm that Electronic Arts still owns the license and that the presence of Porsche in Forza comes from a relationship with them.

Finally, we talked a bit about Drivatars. Racing game AI – let’s be honest – kinda sucks. Drivatars are one of the biggest changes to racing AI in years, and usually in a good way. One big change Cooper mentioned was that Drivatar AI can be, if you like, switched into a more “professional” mode. It’ll still retain the quirks of the driver it’s built off of – things like braking late, for example – but the drivatars might be a little more concerned about keeping their cars intact this time around.

If you don’t like racing games, I don’t think Forza Motorsport 6 is going to change your mind. But racing fans should appreciate not only the hugely increased car roster and precision-built tracks, but the changes we’ll see to the environmental aspects should give racing fans something new to enjoy.

Forza Motorsport 6 hits Xbox One on Sept. 15, and we’re looking forward to seeing what else is in store.


Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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