X15: Welcome to Modern Motorsport!

The Forza Motorsport series took pole position among simulation racing games in the last console generation, and it shows no sign of giving up the lead anytime soon. As the Gran Turismo series remains absent from the PlayStation 4, the teams at Microsoft and Turn 10 Studios are set to release their third Xbox One entry for the venerable series with next month’s Forza Motorsport 6.

The demos at last week’s X15 Canada event came in the regular controller layout as well as a full Thrustmaster kit with a force feedback steering wheel and pedals mounted onto an inclined racing seat. The core game offered a selection of tracks that highlighted the addition of expected but missing features from Forza Motorsport 5, namely racing at night and weather effects that were added to great acclaim by Playground Games into Forza Horizon 2. The test races I played in the featured Ford GT and a Lamborghini showed off the lighting system with piercing hood lights and track lighting blending together for a chromatically striking experience compared to the day time racing experiences from previous Motorsport games. The threshold of car damage before rewind becomes available felt a little higher and the cars had an increased strength of momentum as weaved and drafted among a crowd of luxury cars.

The wheel and pedal felt stiff, but it’s tough to get a tight fit in a shared environment designed as an attractive visual showpiece. The price of the combined set tops the console hardware which makes the cost a significant challenge for potential buyers: there is definitely an opportunity for Microsoft to release a modestly priced official wheel for the Xbox One.

Gamers will be able to dig deeper into the career mode, online multiplayer races and (hopefully less invasive) micro transactions when the retail version arrives to kick off the Fall 2015 season. So far, the core racing experience has an appealing balance of the best parts from Forza Motorsport 5 and Horizon 2 that should appeal to car fanatics.

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