The team Slightly Mad Studios put on a bit of a clinic at E3. Pushing away from the smoke and mirrors some other racers rolled out during the show, they instead swung out their banner with cold, hard facts. Let me lay it down for you:
Project Cars 2 has the largest roster of cars in any racing game. Full stop. Iconic brands like Honda, Nissan, Ferrari, Porsche are in Project Cars already, and will be expanded for Project Cars 2. Cars like the Mclaren 720S are available for play the moment you put your disc in the tray – no XP needed, and no cash (virtual or otherwise) necessary.
Instead of simply adding weather that’s simply on or off as a toggle, Project Cars 2 now features dynamic…well, everything. Using the famous Nordschleife Nürburgring setting as an example, the track is nearly 21km long. This means that it can be raining at the start/finish line, but can be dry as a bone on the far end. As the race progresses, that weather system can move, soaking different parts of the path and changing where you have to react to that weather pattern. Better still, water can accumulate on the track. A little pool you could skate through on lap one might be a lake by lap three, making tire choice more difficult, as well as ensuring that simply memorizing a ghost path will not get you through every time.
To make the game as realistic as possible, Slightly Mad laser scanned all tracks within Project Cars 2. Pretty much everyone does this nowadays. What makes Mad’s effort exceptional is that they also fly drones over the tracks to score a second point of reference to confirm maximum accuracy using a technique called “Photogrammetry”. Photogrammetry measures the distance between objects in a 3D space down to the sub-millimeter level to build the most accurate tracks ever put into a game.
There’s a lot of new improvements in the physics department for Project Cars 2. Not just slipping in drifting and weight distribution, the team has added an entirely new system to their tire systems. No longer rigid objects, they are deformable and squishy as the weight of the car shifts while braking. Better still, a new feature called “Rip Grip” makes those same tires your best friend or worst enemy. In real racing, the track starts off fairly clean, but as the race continues, pieces of the tires begin to break off and embed themselves into the track. As vehicles go over areas filled with black rubber streaks, those pieces can break off and muck up the vehicle’s windshield. Your Saturday morning practice race will ‘season’ the track, and now the embedded rubber has changed the mechanics of navigating it, meaning every time you race it’ll be a little bit different as literally all of these features and scenarios are now in the game.
Rounding out the technicals, the team went back with a giant can of polish to make sure that Project Cars 2 launched in a cleaner state than its predecessor. To that end, they’ve vastly expanded the racing wheel list, online matchmaking and stability, out-of-the-box gamepad handling, and a promised patch for the Xbox One X to push those 4K pixels. On the PC, they’ve pulled out all of the stops with triple-screen support, VR support right out of the box, 21:9 ultrawide monitor support, and up to 12K resolution. Best of all, the recommended specs are promised to hit 60fps at 1080p for those who haven’t upgraded to the new console or have enough power to handle the new features.
Beyond the technical bells and whistles, the team has rebuilt the career mode for Project Cars 2. They’ve gotten rid of the simulation calendar to streamline and allow players to get into events more quickly. As a new approach to the career simulation, players can become a Factory Driver. If you, as an example, drive a lot of Ford vehicles, Ford may approach you to be a brand advocate. Bringing you to their proving ground, you’ll have to prove your mettle to earn sponsorship, becoming a brand driver. The game also will support a multi-class format allowing cars from different racing categories to rattle around the same track. This means the faster cars will now have to deal with being stuck behind slower classed cars, creating some jockeying and weaving. This also means that being in the lead no longer automatically guarantees a win. The team is also more than doubling the number of lifetime goals in the game, giving you more than half a dozen ways to advance your career.
If gaming with your friends is your jam, the much-requested Online Championship mode will be a welcome addition. Rather than creating your own offline brackets, the game now tracks all sorts of stats including win/loss ratios per vehicle and track. This is handy for eSports recruiting, as is the new Director and Broadcast capabilities being built into all platforms. The team was also eager to point out that Project Cars is the largest eSports racer in the world.
It was very easy to see that with everything Project Cars did well, the team wanted to punch it up to the next level for Project Cars 2. You won’t have to wait very long to see all of these new features for yourself, though — the team has announced that Project Cars 2 will ship on September 22nd, 2017 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, with expanded support for Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro.