Forza Motorsport 6
Forza 5’s crash data is helping Turn 10 build a better racer
Forza Motorsport 6 comes across as an apology to fans who felt let down by the previous entry in Microsoft’s flagship racing series. Dispiritingly undernourished, Forza 5 was stymied by its dash to this console generation’s starting line and full of irritating design decisions such as unskippable Jeremy Clarkson blather, intrusive microtransactions and an excessively slippery handling model that seemed to hold Hollywood chase sequences above track-day drama.
Things are looking considerably healthier this time around. In fact, Turn 10 says Forza 6 is the biggest game the studio has ever made. While the raw numbers don’t fully bear that out, there’s plenty to be excited about: 450 fully customisable Forza Vista cars, along with 26 environments (ten of which are new), over which will be draped a promised 70-hour Stories Of Motorsport career – featuring more than 80 smaller Showcase events alongside the main races – and a 24-player online multiplayer suite built around the newly introduced division-based Leagues mode. And this time, everything runs at 60fps in 1080p. Best of all, Forza’s signature handling model has been restored.
“We’re always listening to feedback, not only from the community but internally as well,” creative director Bill Giese tells us when we ask about the cars’ reestablished traction. “And we’re always getting data from our manufacturers. Because we have such a diverse list – we’ve got pre-war race cars, trucks, classic muscle – we’ve had to overhaul all of our tyre compounds. [And now] you’re going to need rain tyres!”
The precipitation in question is made up of individual, physically simulated raindrops that move across your windscreen in a highly convincing manner. But Turn 10 has taken things further by calculating the porosity of the more than 140 driving surfaces that the game uses, simulating the way that water accumulates on different materials, or, for example, how rumble strips are sticky in the dry but slick when wet. And 3D puddles will also form on tracks (which appear in predetermined locations based on the pooling zones of real circuits), with friction, drag and elasticity all calculated as you car barrels into them and risks aquaplaning.
“A good example of our drivable surfaces is Sebring in Florida,” Giese explains. “It’s built around an old airfield, so they’ve got concrete as well as asphalt. The older sections of the track butt up against the newer sections, and in that transition they just slop a sealant over the top of it. In Forza 6, even that sealant has different [driving] properties.” There are now night-time races, too, and the same attention to detail has been applied to the Tarmac, grip diminishing in the cooling night air. Turn 10 is also trying to capture the atmosphere of racing in the dark. “There are tracks like Yas Marina that are so artificially lit up that it feels like daytime, but then there are tracks like Le Mans where the back stretch is pitch black,” Giese says. “You get this sense of claustrophobia, because all you have is this cone of light to guide you, and we talked to race car drivers who said that’s the scariest thing. Hopefully you can catch the turn up ahead; hopefully there’s a car in front and you can watch their brake lights. We really wanted to create that emotion for the player when they’re racing.”
Turn 10’s promises, along with the brief time we’ve spent lapping a handful of nighttime, wet and daytime tracks, suggest that the studio has rekindled the spirit of Forza 3 after briefly losing its grip. Cars feel weighty and responsive, and there’s a gleeful nod to ’90s arcade racers in the bright colours, sweeping views and low-flying airliners of the new Rio de Janeiro track. Those puddles deliver, too, the game conveying the thump of hitting standing water at speed. With the pressure of creating a launch game behind it, the studio now looks set to deliver a Forza on Xbox One that’s more deserving of the series’ name.
Turn 10 creative director Bill Giese