Microsoft Announces Free-To-Play Forza Motorsport 6: Apex For PC
Forza Motorsport was born on the Xbox home console, but that doesn't mean it has to stay there. The racing title (developed by Turn 10 Studios) is expanding its horizons on to Windows 10 PC machines this spring, but it's not just a port of the Forza 6. Forza Motorsport 6: Apex is a free "best of" version that cuts some features from last fall's title, and which Turn 10 hopes will make believers out of the non-racing crowd on the PC.
The title doesn't include all of Forza 6's cars or tracks, capping out at 63 cars (all allowing players to examine their cockpits and fine details in the Forzavista showroom mode) and 20 tracks (over six locations). However, the game's overall philosophy is different. Dan Greenawalt, creative director at Turn 10, sees it as a curated experience designed to test players' skills and try to make each event a showcase for the game. A big part of this is Apex's new progression system.
Apex scraps the Xbox One Forza 6's XP and credits in favor of a single currency – race points (not an official term at the time of this writing). Race points are accumulated by beating event objectives, and are affected by which difficulty settings you use, and your total race time. Points earn you medals, which unlock cars.
Although Apex isn't as big of a game as Forza 6, Apex's loop lies in its objectives, allowing Turn 10 to present different experiences along the way. Rain was a big addition to Forza 6, and one of Apex's objectives is to race in the cockpit view in a rain race. Other objectives might ask you to pass a certain number of cars or judge you on how well you stick to the racing line. This structure lets the racing be about more than where you place in the end.
Furthermore, the studio says that it will add Spotlight events post-launch that repackages the existing content, but in different configurations. Thus, if you couldn't beat the cockpit cam challenge in one track, you may be able to do it in another to accumulate more medals. Naturally the cars you earn can be used on tracks and objectives you already raced, but the added horsepower, for example, won't necessarily help you beat an objective if you don't possess the skill to control the car. The game does include microtransactions for additional cars, but as Greenawalt points out, "If you can't drive with the traction control off, because the secondary objective is 'Turn Off TCS,' the Aston [Martin] might make it harder."
This Isn't Your Normal PC Racing Title For Normal PC Racers
Despite the fact that the game is on PC, it doesn't have traditional multiplayer – only asynchronous points leaderboards. Greenawalt says that this is by design. "This game is really focused towards the single-player experience. We wanted to curate to people very specific car, track, and experiential things they could really sink their teeth into." As such, the series' famous livery editor is also being left out.
Greenawalt says the strategy is to "bring in a new group of player that maybe doesn't think of themselves as a racing gamer." As such, another choice the developer has made with Apex is that it won't support racing wheels at launch. Instead, it will be added some unannounced time after launch for "the broad spectrum of wheels that PC racers already own...," according to Greenawalt.
The choices Turn 10 has made with Apex don't cater to the stereotypical sim-focused, multiplayer racing, and wheel-loving gamers out there (although it does have the same physics as the regular Forza series), but Greenawalt says that the studio will learn what people want from the product as time goes on. "We're going to be listening to the players that play, and looking at how people play our game and changing our plans accordingly, and adding features and what have you. We've got a really open plan there, quite honestly."
While I think that the game's lack of wheel support and traditional multiplayer will be some of the features gamers vocalize about pretty quickly, the fact that it's is free and its culled structure may maximize exposure. What happens after that initial honeymoon is entirely up to Turn 10.