Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 has come and gone, leaving trailers and gameplay previews of upcoming driving games for this year and next, and consoles new and old. Driving games are my genre of choice, so let’s have a look at which driving games were previewed this year.
Project CARS 2
Bandai Namco Entertainment
The trailer, called Soul of Motorsport, feels like more of a teaser that promotes the game based on genre, rather than anything specific, like a unique selling point. People who’ve already played Project CARS are probably their target market for now, until more universal promotional content is unveiled closer to the release date.
Project CARS 2 is released 22nd September 2017 for PlayStation 4, Windows and Xbox One.
Need for Speed Payback
It’s the story of a legend climbing back to the top. I’m not sure whether to describe it as Rocky with cars or Cars with people. I grew up in the era when the Need for Speed series had begun to use narratives, and it’s reassuring, for nostalgia’s sake, to see that it hasn’t given-up on that. It’s a lot more over-the-top than it used to be, but in a fun way. It’s not a problem that it looks like Fast Five, because the Fast and Furious films are what inspired my favourite era of Need for Speed anyway. This instalment looks like a combination of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit with Burnout 3: Takedown – two other great games – if they were directed by Michael Bay, for better or for worse. The cutscenes do at least look cool, but it would be better if they were playable. Hopefully, the police pursuit system will be up to standard with Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005), which has set the series bar.
Need for Speed Payback is released 10th November 2017 for PlayStation 4, Windows and Xbox One.
Forza Motorsport 7
This is available in 4K, and looks stunning and beautiful. Not only is it photorealistic, but the environments alone are an artform in themselves. The question is, what else? It definitely looks to be a good to play for fans of the genre, but apart from the realistic graphics and the way the environments look, is there nothing else to say? Or are those factors enough? If it’s a good game within the genre – and it does look that way – those things are likely to only add something. Microsoft’s conference revealed that there are more real cars in this game than any other.
Forza Motorsport 7 is released 3rd October 2017 for Windows and Xbox One.
Gran Turismo Sport
Sony Interactive Entertainment
Polyphony Digital always remember that if a game’s worth developing, it’s worth doing so as a piece of art, regardless of genre. Yet, the entire presentation of this first trailer is in how fun it’s trying to be, and if the gameplay reflects that, then Gran Turismo will have added what’s missing from an otherwise excellent series: the enjoyability. The series is popular for being the world’s most accurate driving simulator-game, but if it can now be made fun at the same time, we could be onto something almost unbeatable. This trailer alone is like a short film that represents everything that’s fun about driving, and a celebration of the whole automobile concept, rather than of driving games – which is great, because videogames should be about more than playing them. It’s interesting how a series popular for simulating cars is reducing how many cars are in it, and focusing more on racing those cars instead of collecting them. Essentially, this is a tonal reboot of Gran Turismo, and the developer in the behind the scenes video describes it as the beginning of a second generation of Gran Turismo games (though what this means will probably only become apparent in hindsight after several more of them in the future). But the most important thing about this trailer is the way that I felt something I haven’t felt in any Gran Turismo game: that I’m being invited to become part of a global player-base, instead of playing the game on my own. That matters, because the knowledge that the other cars are other players adds to the experience and makes the game more authentic because it’s not only a driving simulator but a simulator of racing and racing culture. To do so with the same amount of accuracy as before, while also being entertaining, is what I’m predicting will make this latest instalment the most popular so far (the most recent three instalments have felt like the same game with the quality of graphics being all that changes). Which is not to say that there’s less application of video-games as art here – because there definitely is, which is shown by the featurette that demonstrates the level of detail being applied in order to transpose certain elements of reality onto a disc. Each member of the development team is irreplaceable, possessing a unique skill; it’s this kind of respect for teamwork that has given Polyphony Digital their reputation as a collaboration of disciplines. And… the International Automobile Association is to recognise the Gran Turismo Online Championship as an official sport.
Gran Turismo Sport is released this autumn for PlayStation 4.
The Crew 2
A driving game, set in San Francisco, released by Ubisoft? Sound familiar? For some reason, this doesn’t appeal. Maybe it was the developer’s commentary of an action-packed racing game sounding like a relaxing tour guide, maybe it’s the weird Inception effects used for the fancy transitions, maybe it’s the open world being boring without an apparent objective, or the the main attraction being GTA Online if it only had the arcade races, maybe it’s how goofy it is and sugarcoated it is. Naturally, the addition of boats and planes is due to video game sequels usually having more features than the previous one, but couldn’t that have been more cars? Or a different location than the continental United States, again. Or maybe I’m bitter that Ubisoft had the chance to develop Driver 6 but didn’t.
The Crew 2 is released in Spring for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.