The Forza Motorsport series’ greatest accomplishment is providing accessibility in an otherwise unwelcoming genre. Earlier this year, we saw the releases of DiRT Rally and Project CARS, two racing games that are equal parts authentic and impenetrable. These games provide no options for newbies; you’re in for some serious frustration if you lack experience. Forza Motorsport 6, however, is a racing game I’d recommend to both new racers and longtime fans of racing simulators alike. It truly lets you have your cake and eat it too: Forza Motorsport 6 is both the easiest racing sim you’ll ever play and the deepest driving simulation available. It’s your choice.

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And choice is something Forza Motorsport 6 has in abundance. With over 450 cars and 26 tracks, there are plenty of driving situations to choose from. As a serious car fan, the game’s car list had me drooling. I couldn’t think of any notable omissions; everything I’d ever want to race around a track was present and accounted for. And now with 24-car races, the amount of variety really starts to shine. The new tracks are also incredibly detailed and faithful to their real-world counterparts. The new Rio de Janeiro track is a visual standout, while Brands Hatch and the Daytona International Speedway are welcome additions to the Forza franchise.

The biggest new additions to the series are night-time racing and rain. Both of those features were present in last year’s spin-off, Forza Horizon 2, but they’ve been reworked and made much more significant. Nighttime races created some of the most tense racing I’ve ever experienced, with corners and AI cars coming seemingly out of nowhere. Rain, however, was the big feature that developer Turn 10’s been pushing since the game’s reveal. It’s easy to scoff at how excited the developers were about “3D puddles”, but boy do they make a difference. Hydroplaning across standing water can make or break a race, so puddles quickly become something to fear and brace yourself for. Racing in the rain really shakes up the racing, as a dry track becomes a different beast entirely when it’s raining. Night racing and wet weather are welcome additions, but it’s a shame that the conditions are “locked-in” at the start of each race. The sun won’t set mid-race, nor will clouds roll in. Dynamic day/night cycles and weather would’ve been really neat.

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There isn’t much to say about the car handling other than the fact that it’s fantastic. Cars grip and slide like you’d want them to, and the steering never feels twitchy or unresponsive. The Xbox One’s trigger-rumble returns, giving you feedback when your car’s about to lose grip or when you need to shift. The whole game simply feels great. The best part, however, is how much you can customize the way it plays. Forza 6’s numerous assists makes the game accessible to anyone; you can even enable assisted steering and braking if you’re just starting out. Car tuning and customizing allows you to make your car handle and perform exactly the way you want, and you can even add Mods that give you perks like reduced weight or better braking. In addition to Mods, “Dares” are a similar feature that put you at a disadvantage, adding more weight or less power to your car but also give you a bigger credit payout.

The trappings around the actual racing are smartly designed and make the game even more accessible. Credits are doled out at a reasonable pace and make it so that expensive hypercar you’re after isn’t too far out of reach. The game is almost constantly rewarding you with more money, new Mods, or new cars. The game’s “Showcase” races allow you to hop in preset cars to partake in various challenges, like endurance racing, slalom-style autocross, or league races like Formula-E or Indy Car racing. These showcase races provide a nice break from the more standard career mode and are a good source of extra credits. The multiplayer is your standard Forza faire, however — fun, but lag and aggressive players really take away from the experience.

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Forza Motorsport 6 is the most feature-rich Forza game to date and succeeds in being everything for everybody: accessibility if you need it, and hardcore simulation if you want it. It is undoubtedly the best in the franchise, yet more importantly, it’s the best possible jumping-in point if you’re unsure about getting into a genre previously reserved for a “hardcore” audience and because of this, Forza Motorsport 6 is the best racing sim we’ve seen in years.

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