It’s not easy putting out yearly sequels, especially when it comes to racing simulators. Though Microsoft Game Studios has taken to alternating between its Forza Horizon and Forza Motorsport franchises on a yearly basis, it still takes a phenomenal effort to realistically simulate the racing while continuing to make improvements and increase the quality of visuals.
Forza Motorsport 5 had a rather tough task back in 2013. The Xbox One had just released and being a launch title meant it didn’t take advantage of the increased power and optimization of later games. Nonetheless, it was still one of the few Xbox One titles to have a 1080p resolution and locked 60 FPS frame rate, that too with minimal drops at times. Over time, the Xbox One has seen changes to the overall SDK with an extra CPU core unlocked to further add to the console’s power.
In the case of Forza Motorsport 6, it marks a return to form for Turn 10 Studios this year. With the addition of rainy roads and their overall effect on tracks, it’s amazing to note just how Forza Motorsport 6 improves on Forza Motorsport 5, even if these improvements aren’t immediately noticeable to those who spent time with the latter. How exactly does it compare to Forza 5, especially now that it can take advantage of the console’s new found power? For that matter, when viewed in relation to sterling efforts like Project CARS and DriveClub, is it able to stand out? What exactly is up with all those puddles you’ve been hearing about? Let’s find out below.
Complete visual analysis of Forza Motorsport 6 including comparison with DriveClub. Please select 1080p and 60fps playback option.
Head to head screenshot comparison between Forza Motorsport 6 and DriveClub.
Running at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second, Forza Motorsport 6 has better overall texture filtering on road surfaces that are closer to the car. Forza Motorsport 5 uses a trilinear filtering approach while Forza 6 seems to be using AFX 8. Though it’s an improvement, it tends to be a little off as one looks further into the distance.
In terms of anti-aliasing, Forza Motorsport 6 actually uses Enhanced Quality Anti-Aliasing, a solution introduced with AMD’s HD 6900 cards which uses minimal video memory. The sharpening of jaggies here is fairly similar to Project CARS; at times, we noticed some jagged edges on fences and rails. Overall, it’s a decent custom solution and must have made for easier development given that the Xbox One’s architecture is inherently AMD-based. However, it does leave room for improvement at the end of the day.
Forza Motorsport 6 does live up to the promise of better weather systems though. Alpha and volumetric effects have been improved significantly, as dust floating around and enhanced fog can be noticed in places. Night races are fully supported now as is rain and puddles left on tracks. We couldn’t help but compare Forza 6 to Evolution Studios’ DriveClub in terms of rain. DriveClub used real world scenarios for considering the velocity, speed and intensity of rain along with the physical effect of and the angle of rain drops. This resulted in a realistic accumulation of rain drops on windows and they even interacted and moved around on the door and wind screen depending on the wind movement and the car’s speed.
So does Forza Motorsport 6’s rain measure up to DriveClub? Unfortunately, it’s not as stellar but taken on its own, the rain effects are excellent overall. Turn 10 has lived up to its promise of puddles and their formation altering the way your races play out. Suddenly braking at a puddle after traveling at high speeds could cause your car to spin out of control, for instance. The puddle formation and deformation is static however, making us wonder why Turn 10 didn’t implement dynamic puddles. It would have certainly been a nice touch overall. It’s also odd how rain effects don’t carry over into night races. Maybe it would have made things too difficult from a gameplay perspective? Regardless, this would certainly have provided some intriguing sights to races.
When it comes to texture quality, Turn 10 has its cars locked down. The physical material based rendering that they used results in an excellent representation of light sources. Combine this with screen space reflections on water and the car roof, among other places, and you’ve got quite the pretty picture. Interestingly, if you notice closely, objects are now reflected in puddles although the quality of these is average. Similarly, the image quality of reflections on the bonnet and rear view mirror (which runs at 30 FPS, compared to the remaining game’s 60 FPS frame rate) look decent. Forza Motorsport 6 continues the series’ tradition of top notch art design and we couldn’t be more thankful.
In game screenshots showcasing excellent texture quality, screen space reflections, dynamic lighting and more.
We do wish for some better physics effects at times though. Though there are improvements when it comes to damage, there are situations where the opposite force implementation – such as when a car crashes into a tire wall – are incorrect. No matter where you hit the tire wall, there is a single reaction to the car every time. Then again, this is still better than Forza Motorsport 5.
If you’re coming into Forza Motorsport 6 from not having played any racing game up till now, you’ll be suitably impressed by what its visuals have to offer. The engine accurately and beautifully models its cars without a hitch in the frame rate and in glorious 1080p. There are a few nit-picks here and there when it comes to the EQAA, the quality of some reflections, the odd implementation of physics effects in crashes and whatnot. However, it’s still a very good looking game.
Those who have played Forza Motorsport 5 can view this as an evolution of that formula with Turn 10 learning more about the Xbox One architecture and utilizing it to implement more subtle effects and improvements to the racing experience. Night races and the effects of puddles on racing are great and even if there are some places where it doesn’t quite measure up to DriveClub on the PS4, once again it stands very well on its own right, providing one of the best racing experiences possible today.