I'm at the starting line at Brands Hatch, and the rain hasn't let up. It's not a torrential downpour, but it's enough that large puddles have formed along the track. From behind the wheel, I can hear the pattering of drops on the roof of my Audi. Move out to third-person view, and the drops are more distant but still hit this invisible floating lens. The race begins. I start slowly, swerving left and right for no reason other than to watch streaks of rain drops draw zig-zags on my windshield. I ease out of the first right turn, then dig my finger deep into the right trigger, the equivalent of putting pedal to the metal, and hit a large puddle pretty hard, hydroplaning off the course and into the dirt to my left. Shit. Press Y to rewind. Try again.
With each successive (and successful) Forza Motorsport title, developer Turn 10 wades slowly and deliberately through the uncanny valley of car simulation. The new Forza 6 is no exception; creative director Bill Giese walked us through some of nuance of the new weather and night modes just before we got a chance to check it out ourselves at Microsoft's E3 2015 booth.
Rain is the big one, both visually and in terms of how you play. At moments it looked like individual drops were falling on the spoiler. Hydroplaning is now a real concern. Most, but not all, of Forza 6's iconic tracks will support rain; Giese said some tracks like Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina would not have rain as an option because it doesn't rain very often in the desert. "We wanted to recreate specific race events," he added. It isn't the first racing title with impressive rain (hello there, Drive Club or even the latest Forza Horizon spinoff), but it's still a welcome addition here.
Nighttime is the other major new environmental feature, and for that, we drove a (virtual) Lamborghini Huracán. It is seriously dark, save for a few fireworks, the glow from our dashboard electronics, and the lights from other cars. Get too far ahead — or in my case, too far behind — and it feels like driving in the middle of nowhere at midnight. Giese noted, too, that because of cooler nighttime temperatures, your car will grip the road less (not something I noticed, but I didn't get a chance to play the same track in the daytime).
While Forza 6 has a couple of new gameplay elements, as well, including improved drivatars, "mods" for for grouping assist options, and a League mode that'll be detailed at later time — the game is still very much an evolution of the last Forza title. Which is exactly what you expect with new Forza — "the most comprehensive game yet," said Giese as he rattled off the numbers (450 Forzavista cars, 26 destinations, 24 cars on track at once, 1080p 60fps). The reason to buy a new Forza is to get a better version of the last one — and yes, that means buying a game for the express purpose of hydroplaning at night.
Forza 6 is set for release September 15th for Xbox One.