One thing that many people are looking for in the Sim Racing community is an authentic rally racing title. The last title regarded as a “true hardcore rally simulation” would be Richard Burns Rally, and that will turn 11 years old in 2 months. Many people have been looking for a successor to the off-road racing title. DiRT Rally seems like it may be laying the groundwork for a successor, but a downside will likely be limited mods. I’ve heard Assetto Corsa be tossed around as well, but it definitely would have a ways to go as well.
However, I’d like to run another thought by you: what if rFactor 2 could be made into a rally title? Could it stack up against Richard Burns Rally? I think it possibly could.
One landmark release that was just a couple days ago was the Palatov D4. While most people may not know what that car is, the Hillclimb configuration marks a significant first: the first vehicle to feature a 4 wheel drive drivetrain in rFactor 2. Naturally, I decided to test out how the car would slide, and I was pleasantly surprised!
rFactor 2’s Force Feedback works very well in a rally/sliding situation, and I could get a feel for how much grip I could have. The 4WD in the D4 worked similar to how I had cars performing in Richard Burns Rally, albeit with stronger FFB for rFactor 2. It was authentic behavior, and even seeing a car flip in the replay seemed to be in a realistic fashion!
Now, the driving experience is only one element of rally, and there are parts that rFactor 2 would need to improve before having a full-fledged rally experience. Here are some of what comes to mind:
When you’re flying through a forest at speeds in excess of 100 MPH, you’re going to want a co-driver. This is what I believe could be one of the easier parts to implement. As of right now, rFactor 2 does have functionality for a spotter, but it is quite limited. However, that is a means to have an external voice communicated to you.
I don’t know how difficult it would be to edit the code, but theoretically I could see the spotter functionality being used as a base for a co-driver. Instead of calling off lap times and other vehicles’ proximity, it would tell you of upcoming turns and hazards.
Rally events are comprised of multiple stages, with checkpoints in between. This is something that, as of right now, rFactor 2 does not support. This is another thing I do not think would be too difficult to implement in the sim either. Looking at RaceRoom Racing Experience, and older SimBin titles, they were able to incorporate two-race events in the ISIMotor engine, so I believe there is some framework there. The challenge would be how to have the different stages in one event. In the previously mentioned titles, the races were all at one track configuration, with them not changing. Could this be improved upon in rFactor 2? I find it quite likely.
Usually halfway through a rally, there are repair checkpoints, where your crew can work to fix your car between stages. They have a limited allotment of time, and if they take too long, time penalties will be placed on the team.
I think this could be possible in rFactor 2, but this would require the most under-the-hood in terms of changes. First, you’d have to have the multi-race events that I mentioned before. Then, you’d have to have damage carry over, and then you’d need to create a window of opportunity to repair. Odds are, it’s easier said than done.
Proper Point-to-Point Timing
One thing that many in the rFactor 2 community are waiting for is point-to-point timing. As of right now, it is not properly implemented, so I don’t think rally events can be effectively simulated yet. Tim Wheatley has told me that realistic point-to-point timing is in the plans, but it is not a priority in this point in time.
Granted, all this framework is one thing. Having the content to take advantage of it is another thing entirely. As of right now, we have one 4WD car, but it is not exactly a rally car either. Lost Valley is a solid experimental dirt track, that should be able to serve as a framework for community-made courses.
The ISI Intercepter, which was released alongside Lost Valley, should also be able to be utilized as a “Framework Vehicle”. While it is not a car, Tim has told me that the tires on the quad should be able to be scaled to make off-road tires.
Will we see the community make rally and off-road oriented content for rFactor 2? I think the answer to that question is what will either make or break rFactor 2 as an off-road racing title. What are your thoughts on the potential for off-road racing in rFactor 2? Let us know in the comments!