Evolution Studios’ oft-delayed social racing game, Driveclub, finally has a release date, but still seems light on details.
I saddled up to the Driveclub station at the PlayStation booth with very little by way of expectation. I’m not particularly into racing games, so I pick up the big announcements – the October 7 Release Date, for instance – but I’m mostly in the dark as to the social features the title plans to offer. I was hoping to learn a bit more about this side of the game, but the demo on offer consisted of a single map, driven alone against the AI, with your choice of three cars.
I picked the Ferrari – I don’t know much about cars, but I hear these things are fast – and am on my way. The first thing I noticed was that the controls are forgiving, favoring a fun experience over being a realistic racing sim. Given the touted social nature of the game, this seems like a prudent choice. In my first race, I bounced off the walls at every turn, I drifted when I shouldn’t be drifting, I rammed into opposing racers left and right. I did everything wrong, and I still managed 7th place.
I restarted the race, focused myself on the task at hand, and off I went. I made every effort not to just rear end my opponents. I used the brakes to make tight corners. I even drifted through a couple of turns, racking up minor bonus points along the way. I cut the other drivers off on every corner, and eventually settled into a 3rd place finish.
The fact that even I was able to get 3rd on my second race in Driveclub speaks volumes to its accessibility. I’m admittedly not very good at racing games, so virtually anybody should be able to pick up Driveclub and take down the AI. What’s supposed to make Driveclub great, though, is the social challenges it will have on offer.
From racing other players to mini-challenges on each turn, you’ll be competing against everybody on your friends list – or so I’m told. The demo I got at E3 2014 was strictly single player. For some reason, despite being a heavily social game, the social elements were completely excluded.
A number of the social features have been announced in recent months, but I felt it was a little strange not to be highlighting them at the show. The gentleman attending the booth did fill me in on the mini-challenges interspersed through each track. From the sounds of it, you’ll be able to accept challenges from friends, where their race data is overlayed on your track. You’ll try to out-drift, beat straightaway top speeds, and, of course, beat their overall time, among other performance stats.
I can’t really judge what Driveclub is trying to do socially based on what I saw, but I do think it’s trying to offer an innovative take on racing. Keep an eye out for more specifics, if the social side is what you’re keen on. Based on what I did experience, however, expert racers will need to look to social aspects for their challenge, as both the AI racers and the controls were seemingly tuned to entry-level players. If you’re looking for a sim, I’d warn you against Driveclub, but if you want a fun, forgiving arcade racing experience, check it out this October.