Billy Strange returns with his great sim racing opinions and knowledge, under the spotlight is the new Q1 2022 rFactor 2 content.
Our resident Author Billy Strange gets down to the nuts and bolts of rFactor 2 and checks out the new content to see if the sim racing title is worthy in 2022.
As I finished up my testing of rFactor 2’s latest content offering, one phrase kept rolling around in my head. Wasted potential. This isn’t new. In fact, it’s been like this to me for quite a while.
There’s no doubt rFactor 2 has made massive improvements from its original offering in 2013. Almost 9 years later the title has stopped relying on its modding base to produce content (a topic for another day) and stepped into the world of paid content drops that help breathe life into the sim on a regular basis.
Its constant re-work of tire models, physics, and shaders are impressive. Then there’s that “new” user interface; it’s been a long time coming and it finally delivers something aesthetically pleasing and slick. Let’s also not forget about bringing that competition system to life which greatly helped the multiplayer side.
In fact, the latest Q1 paid content drop is something to get massively excited about for rFactor 2 fans that are into leagues, the competition system or hotlapping. Daytona delivers an atmosphere unlike any other track and it’s captured wonderfully here.
The BMW M4 GT3 has an exceptional, confidence building stability in the car that makes for a perfect experience in pushing the car to its limits and beyond. The at and over the limit feels have a nice roundness to the tire slip and weight transfer is communicated effectively through the force feedback.
The Dallara IR18 IndyCar includes many official liveries and echoes the majority of my takeaways from the M4. The ability to feel when the car loses aerodynamic grip as mechanical grip tries to take over when the car starts to enter into a pucker-inducing slide is impressive.
The best part, you can save the car because of how it communicates this loss of grip. The IR18 can make you feel like your inputs are just like the ones you see the superstars in IndyCar display while they wrestle the car around the circuits.
The Ligier LMP3 is a car that I don’t quite understand. My main complaint lies within the brake department as I feel tire lock up comes in too soon and any over the limit driving makes the tires feel plastic to me. That’s okay though, I’m sure plenty of people will enjoy this car.
This is what rFactor 2 does well. What it does not do well, is racing with the AI. It used to though; rFactor 2 was the premier sim in offline AI racing. Along the way, something broke with an update and it’s never been fixed since mid 2018.
Yet Studio 397 continues to produce tracks with AI lines, makes no official mention that they are no longer supporting AI, off-line play and leaves single player as a tag on their Steam storefront page. AI is over aggressive no matter what position the aggression slider is at, they take bizarre lines that often have them dropping wheels off of the track and then spinning out and the AI will not recognize the impending doom of a wall or barrier and plow straight into them.
There are also hidden features for the AI not available in the newly revamped UI. Were you aware there is an AI trainer? Did you know you can select specific cars to race against, but that feature only exists when you get to the race track itself while sitting in the garage area? No? Well, I’m not surprised. In a Q&A around the time the “new” UI was announced, the developers specifically cited that those options would still remain hidden from the upcoming version of the UI. By the way, the AI trainer doesn’t help the AI anymore.
I’m sure there are planned dropped dead dates that have to be met and these items get left on the cutting room floor. This is how live service sims operate currently. These sims can make massive gains and become absolutely great.
They can also change or sunset content you loved about the sim and make what was once an amazing experience now reprehensibly unplayable. The short term gains in releasing something that doesn’t fully deliver is also endemic to this style of sim.
It seems so undercooked to release something brand new and have a function or feature (I’m not talking bugs here) not work as intended or just plain broken. We then are left to hope that the developer has enough time and/or human power to fix this issue before moving onto the next thing that will make money so that the studio can stay open.
The rub here is; what if that studio slowly eats away it’s good will from its current user base? Will that studio have enough devout players down the road to still purchase enough content to keep them afloat? Maybe; maybe not. I still believe in the cliche “you will never have a second chance to make a first impression”. A studio has to work so much harder to get back the player they lost than if that content would have been right the first time at launch.
Here we sit with a sim that has so much “wasted potential”, which is not unlike so many other sims past and present. Some will find they only need the multiplayer portion of rFactor 2 to feel like their purchase was a good investment. That’s okay, we all want different things from these sims and that’s what makes this hobby great.
I however have been reviewing sim racing titles and their content drops since 2016, so I have been lucky enough to see every sim in this time frame launch and evolve. When I purchased rFactor 2 before it was ever available on Steam, I saw a sim ripe with opportunity to evolve into something truly amazing on all fronts.
My question that I’ll leave you with is this; How long are we supposed to wait for any sim to deliver on its old and new promises?
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To read more about Billy visit: Billy Strange: Sim Racing Is More Than Just A Game