At the time, its graphics were stunning, the driving experience was the best to ever grace a console, and its Drivatar system was cutting edge, but upon its release as an Xbox One launch title, it was derided critically and by customers for its limited vehicle list, track selection, and gameplay modes. Much like Ayrton Senna said, "If you think I'm fast, just wait until you see my nephew Bruno," there was almost the sense that FM5 was saying, "Just wait until Forza Motorsport 6."
And now it's here, albeit in limited demo form. We sat down and played through the roughly hour-long teaser ahead of our comprehensive review, which you can look for next week. Read on for our earliest and freshest impressions.
- As this is a demo, you're only going to get a taste of what Forza 6 delivers. That said, it's a darn good taste. As is the series' tradition, you're thrown directly into a high-powered car and forced to race. In this case, it's the 2017 Ford GT and you're running on the gorgeous Rio de Janeiro street circuit. The track is hilly and very pretty, whether you're flying into a tunnel underneath colorful favelas or climbing a hill with the Cristo Redentor off in the distance. In general, it sort of reminded us of a Brazilian version of Monaco – tight, hilly, and very, very entertaining.
- The GT, meanwhile, is dynamite. We're eager to spend more time with it in the game, but on the roads of Rio – the only place in the demo you can test it – it's an absolute riot. There's power everywhere, but even with all the assists switched off, it's still remarkably controllable and poised. The suspension was a bit firm for the bumpy, hilly Rio course, but all told, it was a lot of fun. The best thing? After our first run around Rio, we were informed by the demo that we'd have a GT waiting in our garage in the full game.
- The meat of the demo is a three-race series, highlighting one new track, Lime Rock Park, and two familiar circuits that expose gamers to both night and wet-weather racing, with a shortened version of Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit on hand for night-racing duties and Sebring International Raceway in Florida delivering the rain.
- Lime Rock is a handsome-looking course, and FM6 does a good job of capturing its scenic, in-the-mountains character. Leaves blow through the sky at certain sections of track and there's a perpetual mist floating over the green hills outside the track's borders. Beyond that, it's not especially better looking than the scenery we've seen in FM5 and Forza Horizon 2.
- That's also true of the cars. During normal running, each vehicle looks darn pretty, but there doesn't seem to be a huge upgrade from previous installments. This isn't like the jump from FM4 to 5.
- Night racing adds a new and exciting dimension to the racing, although we're not especially sold on Turn 10's execution. See, not only does the darkness hinder your visibility, but it also affects the game's driving dynamics. Because temperatures drop at night, grip falls off noticeably. Too noticeably. It feels kind of ham-fisted, to be honest, with grip suddenly falling away in certain circumstances. We especially noticed the lack of grip under braking. There were also some odd lighting effects on the other cars while racing at night. It wasn't necessarily bad, it just seemed like light fell on the body panels a bit too hard, especially on lighter colored cars.
- Racing in the rain, though, will be FM6's big accomplishment. It looks spectacular, with mist surrounding the areas outside the track and a constant patter on the windshield. Water runs along the side windows at speed and the wipers are never quite enough to clear your view. On top of that, hydroplaning is a very real issue. Where other racing games use water as a sort of blanket reduction in grip across the track, there are very real, very noticeable, and very different puddles forming all over the course in FM6. Hit them and the sensation is just like when you're driving. Our first outing around the wet Sebring track, we took off from the start finish line, ducked towards the pit wall to squeeze by, and promptly hit the wall as we hydroplaned and the car pulled right. Again, we need more time with it, but we wouldn't be surprised if this went down as the finest execution of weather in console-based racing history.
- Turn 10 also tweaked the gameplay, with the result being a more realistic feeling Drivatar system. CPU drivers behave far more like human gamers, making small, large, and hilariously bad mistakes throughout the course. At one point, I saw a computer driver turn in too sharply and plink his car off a barrier. It was a move every inattentive gamer has made a hundred times before. It's this aspect, more than any other, that we look forward to exploring in the full title.
Like we said, these are well and truly our earliest, most initial impressions of FM6 and they'll likely evolve as we gain more time with the full title. You'll need to head back here next week to read up on that piece, which will cover these topics and more in far greater detail. Until then, the demo for Forza Motorsport 6 is available to all Xbox One gamers. If you've taken it for a spin, head into Comments and let us know what you think of Turn 10's latest effort.