Forza Motorsport 6 NASCAR Expansion Review

Following rumors of the impending release of a NASCAR expansion for Forza Motorsport 6, the DLC was released for $19.99. This expansion pack is not a replacement for the full-scale NASCAR games that are released by Dusenberry Martin Racing; however it is simply an expansion pack available to Xbox One owners that have Forza Motorsport 6. This review of the Expansion Pack will be tuned to the fact that this isn’t a full-scale $60 release but rather just a $20 expansion, that I happened to purchase for even less than the MSRP.

Right from the Start, You Notice Factual Problems
Right off the bat, you are immersed into the NASCAR world via a cutscene that lasts about 90 seconds. There’s a small tutorial before you are fully thrown into the game, but it’s in the introductory cutscene that you are first exposed to a very common theme with the expansion: minor details are incorrect. The opening cutscene features dialogue calling NASCAR “a sport as American as apple pie”- while it’s a minor complaint, NASCAR is not a sport (it’s a sanctioning body, much like the NFL, NBA, MLB, etc.), nor is apple pie American.

Following this cutscene, you are taken to Homestead-Miami Speedway, where you get your first taste of the new cars and tracks that are part of the NASCAR expansion. It is in this cutscene showcasing Homestead-Miami Speedway where you are conveniently left unaware of another aspect where this content is lacking. The developers claim that you get 24 cars, and sure, there are 24 cars that you can drive. However, this list of 24 cars includes a number of cars that are just alternative paint schemes, with there only being 16 different Sprint Cup cars available. The 16 drivers whose cars are featured in the expansion include: #1-Jamie McMurray, #2-Brad Keselowski, #4-Kevin Harvick, #5-Kasey Kahne, #10-Danica Patrick, #11-Denny Hamlin, #14-Tony Stewart, #18-Kyle Busch, #19-Carl Edwards, #20-Matt Kenseth, #22-Joey Logano, #24-Chase Elliott, #41-Kurt Busch, #42-Kyle Larson, #48-Jimmie Johnson, and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. The 8 other cars shown include second schemes for Keselowski, Harvick, Kahne, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Joey Logano, and a total of 3 different schemes for Carl Edwards’ #19 car. If your favorite driver isn’t from the Hendrick, Stewart-Haas, Ganassi, Gibbs, or Penske organizations, sorry, but they aren’t going to be in this game.

It’s at the end of the cutscene highlighting Homestead-Miami Speedway, right after the narrator says you’ll take over the #24 NAPA Chevrolet “driven in NASCAR by series champion Chase Elliott” (another inaccuracy!) that you finally are able to actually go racing in the NASCAR expansion- well over 5 minutes after you first load up everything. I would probably have been more forgiving about the introductory walkthrough if it hadn’t been full of inaccuracies, but I’m of the mindset that the basic things should really be what’s done correctly.

You get a 10-lap quick race at Homestead to get your feet wet with the car. The game takes your difficulty settings for this race, so depending on how you play you may either have some difficulty adjusting to the car or dominate the race. Either way, even on a high difficulty level, you should probably at least compete for the win. Oh, and don’t expect the AI to be intelligent; Forza’s AI is the game’s real weak point. The AI will take your line in the corner if you’re faster, and will be a pain sometimes. If you’ve played NASCAR 14, NASCAR Inside Line, or NASCAR The Game 2011, the AI in the Forza NASCAR expansion will feel right at home.

There’s A Good Amount of “Career Mode” Style Gameplay
Despite all of the factual inaccuracies, one area where the game excels is the amount of gameplay in the NASCAR World Tour. There are 9 different series to play through, and each one takes about an hour to complete from my experience, so Forza’s claim of 10 hours of new campaign gameplay is pretty accurate. Add in the time you’ll spend trying to race NASCAR vehicles with all the other cars in the game and you can really sink many hours into just the expansion.

The gameplay in this campaign is probably one of the strong suits. The introduction of “Quick Stops”, where you have to visit pit road a certain number of times in a race, definitely highlights the strategy aspect of races. There are a lot of tracks to race on and you’ll race at a large range of tracks from Daytona’s oval, to Mount Panorama in Australia, to a track set in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland, to tracks in South America. You’ll get to compete against IndyCars at Indianapolis, GT cars at tracks in Europe, V8 Supercars at Mount Panorama, and can learn how these cars compare to NASCAR racecars. These multi-class races can be a lot of fun, especially when you run the Indianapolis Cup/IndyCar combo and in 7-8 laps are not only fighting other NASCAR cars for the win, but also having to dodge IndyCar racers that are just that much faster than you. There’s a controlled chaos to everything that makes the races somehow more enjoyable, despite the fact that you’re racing with a nearly incompetent AI.

If there’s any real complaint to make about the gameplay, it’s that the NASCAR Sprint Cup tracks in the game are limited to Daytona, Homestead, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, and Sonoma. Homestead is the only new oval track, so if you want your NASCAR oval fix, you’re probably looking at the wrong game unless you really like Daytona, Homestead, or Indianapolis.

I would love to review online gameplay, but after trying twice, I just gave up and went back to the campaign. The experience wasn’t terrible the first time, but I found the online players I was paired with to be on par with the AI in their intelligence level, as there was a giant pileup going into the first turn of the Rio de Janiero track. The second time I tried, I couldn’t actually connect to any race lobbies, and after trying to host a race myself, I gave up after 5 minutes of not getting enough players to start a race. Be prepared, when you do race online, to need a really good setup and upgraded car in order to compete online. One thing I noticed the race at the Rio de Janiero track was that many of the cars I raced against were heavily upgraded and tuned. Be prepared for disappointment racing online if you aren’t going to spend loads of time to learn how to set the cars up for certain tracks.

The Final Verdict
The good thing about the Forza Motorsport 6 NASCAR Expansion? Even when accounting for all of the minor details that are wrong, the game is still much better than any other full-fledged NASCAR game that has been released in recent years. For $20 you’re still getting something that’s better than the $60 NASCAR games released in recent years- you just don’t have a full field of cars to choose from. The graphics are better than recent NASCAR games and the gameplay is better. It’s not fair to dock NASCAR games for not allowing you to compete head-to-head with V8 Supercars, GT cars, IndyCars or the like, but if you’re someone that wants to give that a go, Forza Motorsport 6’s NASCAR expansion lets you have at it.

There are many worse ways that you could part with your $20 than to buy the NASCAR expansion. Just don’t go in expecting to have a perfect game. Hopefully, updates to fix some of the issues will be incorporated in the near future.