A pioneering year for racing video games means even better days for new consoles

In a banner year for motorsport video games, the easily viewed WRC series by KT Racing is the best example of a genre experiencing a renaissance.

At the beginning of the race in early September, the WRC 8 was unlikely to be expected. The Dirt Rally 2.0 had started seven months earlier, and under KT Racing (a division of Kylotonn in Paris) the series was known to be easy to maintain and straightforward, and even an arcade-style presentation of the World Rally Championship. For a week, a code slipped under my door and I said I would take care of it.

When I finally did, what I found didn’t look like WRC at all. It is not just the robust career mode, whose focus on team development and personnel management cannot be found in any other racing game. It was not just the historic fleet of cars (29 in total) or – critical for racing in the elements – the weather that is now changing in the middle of the stage. The manufacturers of the WRC 8, who worked with an additional year of development time, had the courage to revise the driving behavior of the cars, refine the aerodynamics and surface physics to create a harder, more demanding racer.

And KT Racing’s confidence that they were doing the right thing was confirmed in their first game tests, said Benoit Gomes, chief designer of WRC 8. “They were the kind of players who are used to their project cars to play racing simulation games that they immediately understood, “said Gomes. “The first or second trip was perfect for her. There is no false dynamics, they could use real driving techniques in our game. “This was not the case with the predecessors of the WRC.

“It was just the immediate feeling of understanding the car,” said Gomes.

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When a love service like NASCAR Heat 4 becomes the anchor for a large esports series, it’s a good year for fans. When heavy hitters like Codemasters drop all three of their racing series in the same year – including F1 2019, where Formula 2 was on a nine-month development plan for the first time in all modes – it’s a great year for fans. But if even a marginal competitor like the WRC 8 can break through with an outstanding performance, then one speaks of a pioneering year.

With this year’s offer, motorsport fans can be sure that their requirements will attract the attention of studios and publishers who are happy to offer other titles of the genre. The recent takeover of Slightly Mad Studios by Codemasters, the manufacturer of Project Cars, should prove this. This ramp-up is also coming while the market is getting ready for the next generation of consoles. The designers at KT Racing believe that this will bring advantages for the racing segment.

“We don’t have a clear idea of ​​why we currently have so many racing games, but there are more people who want to play racing games.” I think it’s the fact that they’re more realistic, “said Alain Jamiou, director of WRC 8. What he means is that for six years now, developers in this console generation (in which most of their licensed sports use up) have been using it Make full use of hardware The Xbox One / PlayStation 4 generation shows the variety, technical sophistication and visual appeal of motorsport, where these skills seem to have peaked in other sports titles.

“Every good idea is better with more performance.”

Motorsport titles, which are among the numerous sports, could at least at the beginning of the next generation be positioned to take full advantage of the new hardware. Jamiou pointed out that real-time ray tracing is a “holy grail” of technology that is particularly important for a subgenre whose fans expect state-of-the-art visual fidelity and attention to detail. The processor muscle that masters this type of rendering in a video game can also support faster loading times – which is particularly important for motorsport gamers who are likely to wait the longest for fans of a genre while their elaborate stages and lifelike racetracks into the game loading game.

“Despite the new consoles and new performance, it’s great that any good idea with better performance is better,” said Gomes. And KT Games is going into 2020 with a lot of good ideas, especially with the career mode developed by Gomes.

“It’s like the game in the game,” said Jamiou. “You win the championship not only when you are behind the wheel, but in all the decisions that you make in your calendar, in your departments, everything that we think is a team.” Also in one year during F1 2019 left a vacuum in about 200 hours of my time, the WRC 8’s career shift is a bit more varied. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Codemasters implement team human resources management to accomplish what the WRC 8 did when, in F1’s career mode, the driver was already driving the car’s development as if it were a team leader.

Whatever developers like Codemasters, KT Racing or 704Games are doing, it is clear that there is a lot of demand to support the development of racing as a simulation sport comparable to Pro Evolution Soccer, MLB the Show and NBA 2K. Perhaps the proliferation of these online games has helped a boutique product reduce the expectations and doubts that big publishers like Activision and Electronic Arts always seemed to have. Perhaps racers like FIA ​​and NASCAR find the ability of the sport to attract a crowd as urgent to do these things. But there’s never been a better time to become a motorsport video game fan, and the WRC 8, which is the occasion for the audience, is proof enough.

“The WRC license is not AAA (as a game brand), and we know that, but we’re still trying to be at the forefront of our game and do it,” said Gomes. “We don’t have the biggest content on the market, just what people wanted – career mode, historic cars, more realism.”

“With the WRC, we tried to find out where the community was, we were smarter than other AAA racing games, and we tried to focus on everything,” said Gomes.

Roster File is Polygon’s news and opinion column on the intersection of sports and video games.

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