Forza 6 came out last week. From the title you can assume that I think it’s amazing, but that barely scratches the surface.
First off, a recap of Forza 5. The game itself is a big jump over Forza 4, already a great game in its own right, but upon release it was hopelessly incomplete. The cars were limited, as were the tracks. In fact, when you opened up ForzaVista (which allowed you to examine and admire the cars) they made a great point of mentioning that the cars had been tested on the Nurburgring, perhaps the most famous track in the world. The Nurburgring wasn’t even included in the shipped product! It took them nearly a year to get around to offering it for download. To their credit, they did give it to you for free, but how do you not have that track, of all tracks, from the very beginning? DLC, a staple of Forza games, made up much of the car absence, but that came out a little at a time. Also like Forza 4, Porsche wasn’t included, but unlike 4, it was never made available for DLC, only appearing again in Forza Horizon 2, a fun arcade-type racing game but not even remotely close to a simulation.
Forza 6 has made up for most of these shortcomings. Every track from 5 was included, with some neat new additions like Brands Hatch, Monza, and Lime Rock. Virtually all the cars from the previous games are here, with some exceptions. As a long-time AMC and crapcan car fan, I noted the absence of the Gremlin, Pacer, and Ford Pinto, but there are other cars that more than make up for my disappointment. There are 1960s and 1970s F1 cars, Can-Am cars, Australian V8 Supercars, etc., to go along with the usual collection of hypercars, supercars, classics, and ordinary beaters. Want to race a 1960s Ford Country Squire station wagon? Have at it. A LaFerrari? It’s yours. A Lotus 77 against a Chapparal 2E? You can, the world is your oyster.
They also have showcase races. You vs. The Stig’s Digital Cousin, era-specific racing like pre-war Auto Unions vs. Maseratis, lots of different stuff. It’s all fun, and very challenging.
They added things they call Mods. These are “cards” you collect that enhance your car, challenge you in order to earn more money and/or XP, and offer one-time use things like improved starting position on the track. By the first turn you’re usually looking at somewhere between 12th-18th place, so that little boost might appeal to you.
Also, they made lots of tweaks to the racing itself, most notably the rain. Let me tell you guys, the rain races are some of the hardest races I’ve ever run. I just took a Pagani Huayra against 24 other hypercars in the rain on the Nurburgring Grand Prix track and barely came out with the victory. The weather dramatically affects the control you have over the car. Also, night races. When the lights go out and all you see is taillights or the outline of your own car while flying down a barely-visible track at 200 miles per hour it’s nerve-wracking. All of this comes with improved graphics so it’s truly stunning. Also, whatever they did with the overall car physics it’s an improvement. If you played 5 you might find the learning curve even a little steeper than a new player, because your mind is telling you how it’s supposed to be and it doesn’t work out that way. You almost have to learn it all over again. At least, I felt that way. Another positive: when you win a lot the program notices and asks you if you want to bump up your difficulty. I’ve done so 3 times so far as I got the feel for everything, I started at an average level and now I’m only just pulling out wins on Pro. On the highest level they tell you you’ll be humbled. They’re not lying.
The online racing is pretty much the same, hoppers and trolls that you can’t get rid of. I suspect it will always be that way, just accept it and have a good time. If you take it seriously you’ll be chronically pissed off. That said, they included League racing. Jump into a league, work your way up the leaderboard, and get some bonuses. The league racing varies, sometimes it’s ghosted so collisions are off, sometimes it’s crapcan racing, sometimes it’s supercars, sedans, whatever. But it’s fun and the trolling didn’t seem nearly as bad to me.
Now, what’s missing: still no Auction House, a feature from 4 that everybody loved. Still no way to gift cars to other players, something I’d like so I can give cars to my son. I’d also like to see some of the fantasy tracks like Fujimi Kaido, a no-show since 4 and one we had a lot of fun with here on the SDMB.
Also, when you do career you can’t just jump to the big guns, you have to start with the hot hatches and the like and work your way up. Like all the other Forza games it’s a grinder. There are tons of races to do, so be prepared.
And the big negative… still no Porsche on launch. If you want it, be prepared to wait a year and then to pay for it. They either still haven’t worked out some sort of permanent licensing agreement with EA (the rights holders and notorious soreheads when it comes to sublicensing to Turn 10) or they’re sitting on it to resurrect interest in a year or so. Either way, not cool. I don’t really even like Porsche, the 911 isn’t very fun to drive and the SUVs are, well, SUVs, but that’s not the point. The point is that they’ll offer it later, add achievements, and make completists like me pay for it when it’s Porsche and this is a racing simulation-type game. It should just be there.
Also, DLC. As usual, Turn 10 cashes in. 42 cars for $30, VIP (double money and points, 5 cars) for $20, $10 for Fast and Furious cars… they rake in the dough from guys like me. I pay it because this game will keep me occupied for well over a year, but if you don’t want to pay you’ll be missing out on some truly great cars, And some junk, too, but some of us like the junk. Give me a Pinto-Gremlin-Vega race all day, I’m in. Just give me the cars.
OK, TLDR, here’s the conclusion… Compared to Forza 6, Forza 5 was a damn shame. Turn 10 got it all together for this one, and what resulted was the best racing game I have ever played by far, and one that should provide a lot of entertainment for a long, long time, even if you don’t pay for the DLC. If Forza 5 scared you away or pissed you off with its incompleteness, give this a shot. I promise you won’t be disappointed.