I have tried a few Forza games over the years but never really got into any of them. I don’t think I've done more than a handful of races across all the previous Forza games. By contrast, I got a review copy of Forza 6 last Tuesday from MS and I have already put 22 hours into it. So what happened?
It was a commercial. This commercial actually.
The last racing game I really got into was Ridge Racer Type 4 on the original Playstation. This game came out back in 1998 when Tycho and I were roommates and just starting Penny Arcade. We became obsessed with this game. We would race the same tracks over and over again trying to shave fractions of a second off our times. I’ve played the occasional racing game over the years since, but never really got back into one in the same way. When I saw that commercial (and specifically the Ridge Racer portion) I was reminded of how much fun I used to have with racing games and I decided I’d give this new Forza an honest shot.
I’ve always preferred arcade style racers to sims. I think the problem was that the barrier to entry is much higher with a sim and I often won’t push past the initial frustration of not being able to powerslide around every corner at 200 MPH. Forza’s racing line has always been there to teach new drivers like me how to race but I have to be honest, I don’t think I really understood how to “read” it until this most recent iteration and that is 100% my fault. This time I used the tools Forza 6 gives new drivers, like the race line and the rewind and I actually started to get better. Forza 6 does an incredible job of not only letting you customize the game to match your skill level but also incentivizes you to improve and challenge yourself. Want a bonus to the amount of money you earn at the end of each race? Turn the racer AI up a bit, or turn off the assisted braking. It’s like a bike with hundreds of training wheels and each time you take one off, someone hands you a stack of cash.
The other feature I’m loving is the Mod system. Before races you can buy Mod packs with your earnings. Each one is a pack of cards that allow you to customize your car and the race itself. You get three slots to equip these cards and for me it’s a huge part of the fun in Forza 6. The cards come in a assortment of types. Crew cards can be equipped to boost the stats of your car. You might get one that provides a bump to breaking and power or maybe it increases tire grip and reduces the weight of your car. There are cards that will give you bonus credits for excellent drafting or precise cornering. These are good for just one race though so if you slot them you need to work hard to accomplish them. They are like quests in a racing game. There are also Dare cards which are super fun. These cards when equipped give you some negative effect and require you to overcome it in order to win a big credit bonus. For example the card might reduce your braking ability and ask you to still place third or better. They are just fun little challenges you can slot in for a particular race and you keep them so you can use them over and over.
I don’t want to talk forever about it. I’m just really enjoying it and I’m glad I gave it the time I did. What’s interesting is I’m actually doing some cool power sliding now, but when I do I feel like a champion because I had to work for it. It’s the same feeling I had when I beat a boss in Bloodborne. Unlike Bloodborne though, Forza 6 wants you to get good at it and they give you the tools you need to do it. Forza is a brutal racing sim no question, but it’s also an incredible racing teacher if you’re willing to listen.
Speaking of rad commercials, have you seen this Taken King commercial?
I am ready!