The main offering at Microsoft’s E3 booth for sports gamers is Forza 6, which looks to keep moving the needle for this mostly simulation franchise. This wasn’t the most extensive demo, as there were only a couple of options for race types. I chose to try out the night racing and rainy weather racing, both of which were touted as high-level features for this version.
Here are my quick thoughts on Forza 6:
-The racing felt incredibly smooth, as is par for the course for Forza at this point. The usual trappings were available, such as drivatars, driving lines and the ability to rewind, and the handling felt distinct depending on the car model, track type and weather. I’ve always been kind of a casual Forza player, but the game always makes a great first impression. Forza 6 is no different.
-Racing through rainy Nurburgring in a blue Audi felt truly immersive, especially in Forza’s superlative cockpit mode. The sound design remains an aural treat, as the engine being muffled by the beading rain on the window is really something. All of this comes together in a tactile sense as well, with the impulse triggers rumbling as the tires slip on the water while you fly around the track.
-That dynamic weather truly has an impact on racing too, as water pools at various points throughout the track, creating an actual hazard that will result in skids, hydroplanes and wipeouts. I’m glad that here something strategic involved in the weather, but it also looks incredible (as it did in Forza Horizon 2).
The night racing was a fun novelty, with headlights leading the way for each ride, and fireworks blowing up in the distance. I had to be careful, even with the driving line, as certain corners had obstacles that were a bit hard to detect in the dark. Again, it was cool to see a race type that wasn’t just a visual trick but one that actually impacted gameplay.
-As an aside, this Forza 6 demo featured Microsoft’s “elite” controller, which boasts all of the bells and whistles shown at the company’s press conference. The toggle switch for shorter trigger pull/throw was cool, and you can feel the difference when interacting with the triggers in that way. The D-pad is a trippy sight, with its round form and rolling input -- definitely something interesting for fighting games. Finally, the control sticks felt very responsive, as there was just a real precision and directness to the input. The controller was quite substantial to hold, by the way.
-I will note that the load times were strangely long for getting into races. I’m hoping this is an artifact of the E3 demo, but it was a bit strange to wait close to a minute for a course to load.
-The concept of 24-player races sounds like a nice evolution, so let’s hope those load times play nice in the online realm.
As someone who has more of a passing interest in Forza, I’m always impressed by how it plays, sounds and looks. It seems like this iteration will get to include the sheer number of cars, courses and options that people wanted out of Forza 5, and hopefully Turn 10 is a little more responsible with their DLC model this time around, too.