I'm one of the crazies who went and bought the Forza Motorsport 6 Ultimate Edition, giving me access to the game more than a week before its official European release date. Since I've already been able to spend a handful of hours with the game, I thought that I'd jot down some of my earliest impressions for y'all.
Even with all its flaws, Forza Motorsport 5 was quite revolutionary in regards of how well it made use of the Xbox One controllers vibration functions. Forza Horizon 2 honed this feature to an even finer edge, and at least for me the ability to feel everything your car is doing through the trigger rumble motors has made it very difficult to go back and play racing games on any other console or controller. It's something which is very difficult to describe in text, but once you get used to it reacting to the various rumble inputs becomes second nature. With Forza 6, this method of communication has been improved upon even further. Overall the game is much better at telegraphing what your tires and suspension are doing at any given moment. Every surface in the game, from different varieties of tarmac to grass, sand, painted surfaces and varying curb types has a very distinct feel. You can immediately tell when your tires have moved from the top of the curb over to a painted runoff area or into the grass.
Not only do these surfaces feel distinctly different, but they evolve through temperature changes and especially in the rain. A corner which you would be able to slightly cut in a daytime race might slow you down or spin you off during cold nighttime temperatures or in wet conditions. The introduction of varying weather types is of course the most important new addition to the game, and I don't think I've seen them implemented better in any other game. Sure the rain in DriveClub for example might look more impressive graphically, but in terms of gameplay effects nothing comes close. Rain especially has usually just been felt as a slight reduction in mechanical grip in other games. In Forza 6 every surface reacts differently to water, puddles form and react naturally and in longer races dryer lines start to form along the racing line. Nighttime conditions lower track temperatures, reducing grip and tire wear. Racing at night also forces you to memorize the tracks more than you otherwise would have to, since you often can't see the braking points in upcoming corners. That is, if you have the racing line turned off.
There are also morning and evening races, which bring their own challenges when you have to contend with the glint of a rising or setting sun in the windshield of your car. Morning races especially are among one of the most beautiful looking in the game. In Mount Panorama for example you can see a faint morning mist hovering over parts of the track. Nice visual touches like this have been added to other tracks as well. Some tracks have smoke rising from grills in the paddock area and Laguna Seca has trails of sand blowing over the track, which not only look nice but effect grip as well.
The car models themselves seem to be the same ones used in Forza 5 and Horizon 2, but the details in these models really pop with the new improved lighting engine. It's also very impressive to see a full 24 car grid thundering up a track with the game maintaining a fairly consistent 60fps at 1080p. I have seen the framerate hitch a few times, maybe once every three races. This seems to be something that could be addressed with a patch at some point. With a 24 car grid I would however like to be able to do a qualifying session, especially on fast tracks where grid position is pretty key. Luckily the Drivatars are pretty well realized this time, at least on the higher difficulty settings, so racing your way up a pack of cars is extremely fun and rewarding.
There are roughly two times as many cars in Forza 6 than there were in five, and twice the amount of tracks as well. The progression system should be fairly familiar to anyone who's played a Forza Motorsport game in the past, with a few evolutionary changes. One criticism I would level against the game is the necessity to finish in the top 3 in every race in order to progress. I feel that the points system in Forza Horizon is much more dynamic and forgiving. Having to restart the race just because you whiffed the last corner of a track and finished fourth, even though you've won every other race in the "series" is very frustrating.
That being said I don't see myself getting bored with the content or the progression any time soon here, and as great as this year has been for games I can already see clear arguments as to why Forza 6 belongs in my top three come December.
I haven't been able to try all the features in the game yet. Split-screen multiplayer for example is something I spend a lot of time with, but I've not had a chance to try it yet so I can't comment on things like if the cockpit view in split-screen has made a comeback yet or if you can get AI drivers on the track.
Feel free to shoot any questions my way or share and compare your own impressions of the game.