Forza Motorsport 6: Apex beta impressions: Take it for a spin

Forza Motorsport 6: Apex is different. It’s a beta, demo and free game all rolled into one.


Gears of War and Quantum Break were misadventures, and Killer Instinct was a large demo which could be worth your time, but only if you went all in. Forza Motorsport 6: Apex is different. It’s a beta, demo and free game all rolled into one, and you could potentially make a case to categorise it under any of those labels. The version presently available on the Windows Store is categorized as an “open beta”, with no information on when it will conclude. What’s more, Microsoft and Developers Turn 10 Studios have promised updates through the summer, both in terms of content as well as game improvements.

Forza Motorsport 6: Apex beta impressions: Take it for a spin

Turn Dynamic Optimization on and the game will tweak settings to meet your frame rate target

 

Microsoft is pushing to make the Windows 10 Store relevant to gamers, since the operating system already is—Steam’s hardware and software survey from April 2016 indicates that nearly 40% of all Steam users are using Windows 10 64-bit. With an existing user base to target, Gears of War and Killer Instinct were good incentive to get players to invest in the Windows Store, but Forza Motorsport 6: Apex, despite some problems, is without doubt, the best possible incentive.

Tonnes of tuning options are available for racing sim fans

Tonnes of tuning options are available for racing sim fans

After a par-by-today’s-standards download of 18GB, players will have access to a decent chunk of content in Forza Motorsport 6 Apex. Unlike Killer Instinct, which dangled all its carrots behind a not-necessarily-unreasonable price tag, Forza lets you dive in with a limited number of restrictions. Once you’re done with the short tutorial race, which sees you take the wheel of a 2017 Ford GT and burn some rubber, the “Tours” game mode is unlocked. This consists of a variety of events in six different tracks with varying conditions and objectives. As a plus, all of them come with an intro sequence voiced by famous automobile journalists including Richard Hammond and James May (formerly of BBC’s Top Gear TV series).

The lack of multiplayer is a problem and leaderboards are only a poor substitute

The lack of multiplayer is a problem and leaderboards are only a poor substitute

You will be able to earn medals by completing specific objectives in events, such as finishing first, using only manual transmission or playing with the traction control turned off on a rainy race day in Spa-Francorchamps. Then unlock cars (from a roster of around 60) for use in events or free play.

Complete events to earn medals which can be used to unlock cars

Complete events to earn medals which can be used to unlock cars

There are 12 Tour races in total, and after completing them, access to “Spotlight Events” is unlocked. Four such events are available right now, and Turn 10 presumably has a calendar of races which will unlock on a periodic basis.  While the events are mostly good, some of them, such as cone-smashing and drifting feel hopelessly out of place in a game like Forza.

The game sports a good collection of automobiles including this 2017 Ford GT

The game sports a good collection of automobiles including this 2017 Ford GT

By any standard the content on offer here is good for a free game. There’s a decent car selection which includes the usual suspects and then some, the presentation is very dramatic and arguably the best I’ve seen in a racing game, and the 16 events set in 6 tracks is enough to keep you occupied for a while. Needless to say, Forza is a driving sim first, so if you want to put your virtual petrolhead hat on and tweak your Differential, that’s your prerogative. On the other hand, if you’re an amateur, the Forza series’ driving aids are legendary—augment your skills without feeling like your car is driving itself. Of course, you’ll need to play without certain assists to complete Tour objectives.

The Apex beta features 6 tracks including the Top Gear test track

The Apex beta features 6 tracks including the Top Gear test track

FM6: Apex takes advantage of superior PC hardware and DirectX 12 to deliver one of the best looking games on the platform (the game features native 4K support). As Forza’s first outing on the PC, FM6: Apex does not disappoint from a visual standpoint. It’s absolutely breathtaking—from the cars to the environment, tracks and particle effects and more, it’s hard to fault FM6: Apex.

Race against the Stig on the Top Gear track

Race against the Stig on the Top Gear track

It’s pretty demanding in terms of hardware, and there are some issues which I will touch on in a bit, but the implementation of “Dynamic Configuration” is very interesting. FM6: Apex will basically tweak the graphic detail levels automatically on the fly in an effort to reach a frame rate target (automatic, 30fps or 60fps). This is indeed an impressive piece of tech, and you are unlikely to notice any drops in visual fidelity as you drive at speed through any of the game’s tracks.

Driving assist options make the game easier for amateurs

Driving assist options make the game easier for amateurs

The game probably relies on the intensity of a race to do its magic in the background. But it’s not all rosy. Even on a fairly powerful machine, I experienced random freezing (for a few seconds, after which the game would resume) and terrible stuttering in certain places on the track during night races even on medium detail.

Race against the Stig on the Top Gear track

Race against the Stig on the Top Gear track

The omission of any sort of multiplayer is a disappointment as well. Forza’s Drivatar system which stores ghosts of your friends’ and other players laps in the cloud and lets you compete with them in events and leaderboards are present, but they are poor substitutes for multiplayer. Racing games are about competition and racing against the AI, no matter how good, will get old after a point. Hopefully, the option to compete against human players will be included in a future update.

Forza Motorsport 6_ Apex (Beta) 11-05-2016 17_50_59

Forza Motorsport 6_ Apex (Beta) 11-05-2016 17_50_59

There’s no reason to not download Forza Motorsport 6: Apex beta on your PC even if you have a passing interest in racing games. Take it for a spin and decide for yourself. You can download the game now from the Windows Store.

 

Tested On

Windows 10 64-bit 1511

Intel Core i5-6500 @ 3.20Ghz

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970

16GB RAM/4GB VRAM

SSD

Minimum System Requirements

Windows 10 64-bit 1511

Intel Core i3-4710 @ 3.7Ghz

NVIDIA GeForce GT 740 or AMD Radeon R7-250X

12GB RAM/4GB VRAM

Recommended (1080p at 60 FPS)

Windows 10 64-bit 1511

Intel Core i7-3820 @ 3.6Ghz

NVIDIA GeForce GT 970 or AMD Radeon R9-290X

8GB RAM/2GB VRAM

Ideal (4K at 60 FPS)

Windows 10 64-bit 1511

Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4Ghz

NVIDIA GeForce GT 980ti or AMD Radeon Fury X

16GB RAM/6+ GB VRAM

SSD

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