Forza Motorsport 6 Apex Open Beta Impressions

Forza Motorsport is the next Xbox game coming to (Windows 10) PC, and Turn 10’s version of a PC port is the most ambitious one yet.

Instead of a direct port like Killer Instinct, Gears of War Ultimate Edition or Quantum Break, Forza Motorsport 6 Apex is a free-to-play, “curated” version of the game and enhanced graphically for the PC crowd. The game is heavily touted for its ability to run in 4K resolution in 60fps.. if you have a decent rig to run one. Heck, the minimum specs require a 16GB RAM minimum instead of the current standard of just 8GB.

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The game would prefer to dynamically adjust the graphical settings, but turn it off in the settings to see all the different options you can turn off or crank up.

Armed with a Lenovo Y50 (specs on the version I’m using can be found here) and a DualShock 3 controller connected with a 3rd party software using Xbox 360 drivers, I gave FM6A, which is still in beta, a try. Not the best way to experience the game, but it should give you an impression of how a low-spec gamer will experience the game.

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Cockpit view is the default view. As it should nowadays.


Right off the bat you’re jumped into a 2017 Ford GT. Assists are mostly on, but interestingly the game automatically sets up the graphics to high.. And it ran at a smooth 60fps! There’s 16 cars on track, visually similar to what Forza Motorsport 6 offers on the Xbox One (based on footage available on the internet, that is).

After turning most of the assist options off I can happily report that the handling is what you expected for a simulation-heavy racer. Brakes lock up if you brake too heavily on rear drive cars, for example. As someone who have never touched a Forza game since Forza Motorsport 2, I’m surprised with some of the things it simulates. Tyre heat and pressure affects traction. So if you race on night time, tyre heat, thus traction, can be a bit of an issue for the first few laps.

The racer’s AI are all powered by a system called Drivatars, in which Turn 10 takes some approximation of each player’s driving tendencies and design AIs based on them. You are racing with other player’s Drivatars, all named using the gamertag. While the Drivatars can be a bit erratic and unpredictable, a change of pace from the easily predictable AIs that won’t even overtake of other racers, I found that the best AI will always break off from the main pack with 5-second time gaps. They are that good compared to the rest of the 14 AIs clumping together way behind.

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Hydroplaning in action. That Ferrari failed to compensate his steering as it hits the puddle, which causes it to lose control and exit the track right after.

Rain Has Physics Effects

The new feature introduced in the 6th outing, rain weather, is not just cosmetics. Hydroplaning is a thing so don’t just plough through those puddles on the track. Like in real life, you can spin out of control if you speed through the puddles (and yes, I have tested this many times, leading to many instances of rapid counter-steering like in this video). Makes sense to not make the weather dynamic, as different weather have different physics implementation that may be hard to be dynamically generated for the moment being. Another sequel perhaps?

Gameplay is solid, but what about the content? Being a free-to-play offering there must be a lot being skimped out, right?


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Ther three-star system. Earn all the medals (stars) to unlock all the 63 cars available in FM6A.

Gameplay Modes

FM6A offers 63 cars, all can be inspected in detail in Forzavista (basically car porn mode) and 6 basic tracks with some like Brands Hatch and the Sebring International Raceway offering different configurations. Missing features, as mentioned earlier are online multiplayer and the livery editor. All you have are tours, 12 different events with specific themes and Showcase events unlocked after completing the tour.

The tour uses the three-star mechanism. Earning medals, as they are called in-game will unlock more cars in the roster. Or you could unlock them early for RM4.20 per car.

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Micro-Transactions, and Market

Sounds sleazy? Maybe not so. There’s no online multiplayer, and all the cars can be unlocked by gameplay means, as in requiring you getting good with the game and spending time. Some of the medal objectives require you to turn off different assists. There’s also a market coming soon and we have no idea what will be they selling, so hold down your wallet for now.

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Night races and any configuration of the Yas Marina Circuit are RAM demanding. They weren’t kidding when 8GB is not enough. Shame, as other tracks can get away with it whilst maintaining 60fps, which is spectacular.

A Very Demanding Game, Specs-wise

Unfortunately, I was not able to unlock the Showcase events at the moment as I am having some technical difficulties. Remember the sleek 60fps gameplay I mentioned earlier? It seems that on specific tracks, like the Yas Marina Circuit North on the third tour event went into a very jittery, unplayable mess. It turns out I was out of memory, to which it resulted in using the hard disk for some extra memory. The Yas Marina Circuit and Sebring International’s night configuration has demanding memory needs to run properly, while other tracks offered a very smooth 60fps experience on my machine.

UPDATE 18/5/16: After a recent Windows update, V-sync can now be disabled, leading to better performance at a cost of some screen tearing. Various changes to Windows and Universal Windows Apps have improved the performance to a playable state in which I can make progress.

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Photo Mode in Fozavista. Now you can take pictures while inspecting all those sexy cars up-close.

Photo Mode

Technical problems aside, there’s one more neat feature that needs a mention: photo mode.

You can access the photo mode at any time in a race by pausing and also in the Forzavista mode. Interestingly, the game will up render the images. Say, if you play on low settings, the moment you snap your very jaggied Nissan GT-R, it will turn to high settings, and add all those effects and filters you’ve configured from the shot. It is well done, though it takes a bit while to load the mode, take the shot and save it. Optimisations are still required.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, for a free-to-play game, I would say that Forza Motorsport 6 Apex is a great game to benchmark and showoff your sweet rig power. It gives you a taste of the definite Forza experience, which is still an Xbox One exclusive. The driving experience it provides is astonishingly well delivered and makes a lot of effort to accommodating casual players with plenty of assists options whilst encouraging them to grow and get better by enticing them rewards for disabling them.

But is it worth spending money on? No, not yet it seems. The current microtransactions offering is not worth it. Unless you really wanted to give that Ferrari LaFerrari a spin without going through all the work. Just don’t buy all of them.  This is still a beta, and there’s plenty of work to be done according to the list of known issues and the performance issues I have currently. We will definitely keep our eyes on what Turn 10 will be able to do with the PC version of Forza as it goes through the beta phase and officially launches.

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Interested to give the FM6A open beta a spin? If you have a Windows 10 PC, head down to this link and give it a download. It’s an 18.76GB download.


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