Project CARS 2 is one of the many titles set to be released later this year, and it is admittedly one of the ambitious. After the messy launch of the original Project CARS in 2015, many people have been wondering how the second title will fare. So, how much do we know about PCARS 2?
Cars and Tracks
Slightly Mad Studios is touting that Project CARS 2 will have the “largest roster of tracks available in a racing title”. The title will feature over 60 tracks, with over a dozen of the new additions being laser-scanned. Stephen Viljoen, the Game Director of Project CARS 2 also told me that they have also went back and laser-scanned some of the tracks that were in Project CARS. That is some welcome news, and I hope they re-scanned my local track (Sonoma Raceway, which was HORRIBLE in PCARS 1!). Notable additions also include the Red Bull Ring and Long Beach.
On the cars side, PCARS 2 will feature over 170 cars, which is over double the roster of cars in its predecessor. The roster will include new additions such as the RallyCross cars, and some unique additions, such as Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s Monster Energy Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-D, dubbed the “Ultimate Fun Haver”. More notable additions include the Aston Martin Vulcan, Jaguar XJ220S TWR and XJR-9, Mittsubishi Lancer Evolution model line, and multiple Nissans.
“Loose Surface Racing” will add extra racing disciplines
The original Project CARS was a diverse title, featuring both road and oval racing, but it stayed to the paved surfaces. In Project CARS 2, Slightly Mad Studios has decided to expand the title to cover what they like to call “Loose Surface Racing”. The title will now feature point-to-point races on dirt and ice. I haven’t really heard much about pace notes or co-drivers, so I’m not sure if it will be full-blown rally racing.
While Rally Racing may not be fully implemented in PCARS 2, RallyCross appears to be represented properly. A solid roster has showcased RallyCross cars such as the Volkswagen Polo RX, Honda Civic Coupe, Mini Countryman RX, and the Ford Focus RS RX. There will also be some specialty cars, such as the classic Ford Escort RS 1600 and the specialty built OMSE Supercar Lites.
PCARS 2 will also feature a lot of real world RallyCross locations, such as:
- Hell, Norway
- Daytona International Speedway, USA
- DirtFish Driving Academy, USA
- Lydden Hill, UK
- Knockhill, UK
- Loheac, France
- Hockenheim, Germany
Full RallyCross rules will also be implemented, such as the “Joker Lap”, which requires drivers to take a longer course around the track one time during the race.
LiveTrack 3.0 Will Add Life to the Weather
When I attended the Project CARS 2 press event in San Francisco, the most hyped up feature was the LiveTrack 3.0 feature, which was touted as “The most realistic weather engine ever in a racing title”.
LiveTrack 3.0 (Don’t ask me what happened to the other 2) is this “Dynamic Weather Engine”, that is supposed to simulate changes in weather, and how it affects track conditions. It is not only water on the track, but different air pressure, humidity, track temperature, etc, that affects the atmosphere and track conditions.
I had a limited time to test out this feature (with the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT), and I will say I walked away pretty impressed. The water pooling on the track looked remarkable, and it was interesting to see how the car can interfere with drainage on the track. If your car’s tire blocks the drain, the water will pool up more and more.
Branching out into E-Sports
It seems like everybody and their dog is looking to get into E-Sports, and the world of Sim Racing is no exception. We’ve seen titles such as iRacing, Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, RaceRoom Racing Experience, and more try to implement their own form of organized online racing. Now, Project CARS 2 is looking to bite off a slice of that pie.
PCARS 2 is looking to bring together a cohesive online system to give drivers this feeling of professionalism with their online racing. Namely, they are going to give online racers this “ranking system”, which will rate drivers by skill. That will bring racers together based on their driving ability, which will hopefully reduce “Rammers” in upper tiers.
Support for broadcasting and streaming will be implemented as well, to try to encourage live-streaming race events.
How’s The Driving So Far?
(Disclaimer, these next couple sections will address some of my impressions I have from a couple hours I got to test out PCARS 2 back in March. I used a CXC Simulations Motion Pro II Cockpit with a Direct Drive wheel and Hydraulic Pedals, sort of giving the “ideal driving situation”)
Now, all of this PR Mumbo Jumbo is ok, but that doesn’t make up for the mistakes that the original Project CARS made, and the mess that was the physics. Has Slightly Mad Studios learned from their mistakes? I’d say…
Somewhat. If I’d give the physics in Project CARS 1 a rating of 6/10, I’d give Project CARS 2 around a 7.5/10. The physics do have a tangible improvement over Project CARS 1 (which I also tested on the same setup). The cars felt more agile, more precise, and felt genuinely like driving a car, with weight and mass to it.
The tires felt very solid, with a nice progressive feeling to the edge, and a drop-off if you crossed that edge. It was still controllable, but definitely not ideal.
However, despite the solid improvements, there is still quite a bit of room for improvement.
What I would like to see improved in Project CARS 2?
Despite having limited time in Project CARS 2, I could see things I want to see improved in the title. The most glaring issue I had was with damage. With damage set to 100%, it still felt far too forgiving, and that was a bit of a shame. I’d like to see the damage being more sensitive.
Also, I’d say that the cars still feel way too planted. Even with traction control off in the GT3 race car I tested, the car would just STICK and you would rocket out of the corner, even if you mashed the throttle with no regard to modulation.
The sounds of the cars still felt rather synthetic. If you get spoiled by sounds in titles such as RaceRoom Racing Experience and Automobilista, the sounds in PCARS 2 may come as a bit of a shock.
Other than that, I will say that it was quite solid. I didn’t have any “landmines”, no exceptionally erratic physics.
With a few months until release, I’d like to see these improvements, and then it could be an even more solid title!
Project CARS 2 so far looks to be improving over its predecessor, but by how much? Hopefully in the near future, I will be able to provide some more previews of Slightly Mad Studios’ sophomore effort, but it is looking promising.