When you get a good look at the Sony’s social racing game Driveclub for the PlayStation 4, you’ll begin to understand why it needed the extra time to come out.
Sony plans to release the game on Oct. 4 for the PS4. Driveclub is clearly an ambitious title that pushes 3D graphics past the speed limit. And it does its best to immerse players in the social world of car clubs.
“We’re trying to do some things that haven’t been done before,” said Paul Rustchynsky, game director of Driveclub at Evolution Studios, speaking at a Sony preview event.
One of the new touches is a dynamic menu, which presents the player with a bunch of screens that show available challenges, online friends, and tournaments to enter. The menu changes every time the player logs in, and he or she can see fellow club members and quickly join their races.
“Connections are the heart of Driveclub,” Rustchynsky said.
You can use the Driveclub app to log into your account and see your stats. Plus, you can watch your friends’ races via livestreams on your smartphone.
The app is “a view into the world of Driveclub.” Rustchynsky added, “We give you lots of reasons to get back into the game.”
One of those reasons is the impressive look of the title, of course. Driveclub has cars that are built with immaculate details. While you are driving, you can see around your cockpit and notice the marvelous touches inside the vehicle. Or you can move to an exterior view to enjoy more of the beautiful landscapes.
“We capture every little detail, the visual look of the car down to the screws,” Rustchynsky said. “And you can see those details while you are driving, not just in a showroom.”
The game moves at 30 frames per second, slower than the 60-frame-per-second visuals featured in some competitive efforts. But that’s an acceptable trade-off that delivers higher-quality visuals like realistic shadows and lighting.
Tracks are as long as 10 kilometers, and they’re taken from scenic courses all over the world. When you are inside a car, the engine noises are muffled. And when you are outside the car, you hear different sounds as the engine and tires scream. The environment has volumetric fog and clouds, beautiful sunsets, and all kinds of weather. You can race amid snow-capped mountains or alongside ocean waves.
You’ll race through places such as India, Canada, Chile, Scotland, Norway, and the U.S. The time is dynamic, and you can schedule races for the day or night.
“It’s about moment-to-moment gameplay, whenever you want it to happen,” Rustchynsky said. “The world is alive.”
On the social side, you get all sorts of trophies, and you don’t have to win to be recognized. At the end of a race, you see your accolades. You can inspect your race history and compare to it to your friends. As you progress, you can unlock new achievements and items.
I raced a couple of times on a hillside track against 11 other computer-driven cars. Those cars were aggressive and weren’t easy to beat. I crashed a few times but got the hang of it by the second race. The game is not super easy, but you can adjust the difficulty settings. While I drove, I admired the shimmering hood of my car as the sunlight bounced off of it. But yeah, I’m a lousy racer. It didn’t seem like it would take long to learn how to drive, though.
Sony still has a lot of time to polish this title. There are other free-to-play online car-racing games out there like Eutechnyx’s Auto Club Revolution 2.0, but Sony wants you to feel like Driveclub is the only one that delivers a premium experience on a next-generation console.