DriveClub Uses Real World Weather Physics, Weather Effects Compared With Forza Horizon 2

DriveClub is the epitome of weather simulation in video games. Find out more in our final verdict.

Posted By | On 17th, Dec. 2014 Under Article, Graphics Analysis | Follow This Author @GamingBoltTweet

Evolution Studios’ DriveClub is a different game now compared to the one we had during the woeful launch back in October. The game, although visually stunning, was hampered by a broken online multiplayer and an under prepared server infrastructure. During the last few weeks, Evolution Studios have been hard at work, fixing the multiplayer component and adding more servers and upgrading them to get the game back to its original vision. It seems to be paying off with the latest set of fixes and patches, the game does play better than it did during launch.

Earlier last week, Evolution Studios released the much awaited weather patch for DriveClub and as we have noted multiple times earlier, it lifts an already impressive looking title to an all together different level. This is not some random patch that merely adds snow and rain in the game. Evolution Studios have implemented a proper physics system so that the snow and rain particles are simulated according to the laws of forces, acceleration and motion.

For example, in real life the rain will appear to be inclined at a certain angle when you are sitting in a moving car. The more the speed of the car, the inclination angle of rain further increases. If you have ever thought about it, rain actually does not drop straight to the ground, it’s sometimes blown away by the winds. Generally speaking, when rain is pouring down, it’s falling down with a certain vertical velocity and zero horizontal velocity. If the car is stationary or is moving very slowly, the rain will appear to fall down at zero angle.

But when the car speeds up, it will move with some horizontal velocity but the driver’s own horizontal velocity is zero so this negates the horizontal velocity of the rain. The difference results into the angular orientation of the rain when the car is moving fast. Due to this the rear of the car gets less battered by the rain than the front. DriveClub actually implements this simulation wherein the inclination angle will vary according to the speed of the car. This is simply phenomenal stuff and we were shocked to found out this in our tests. We understand that most of this is technical jargon for our readers so we have simplified this for you via a image which you can check out below.

driveclub ps4 rain physics

Another big addition to weather update are the snowstorms. In nature, snow behaves differently than rain since it drops in the form of crystalline water ice. As soon as it falls on a fast moving car it melts down resulting into chunks of water being thrown on the windshield. The simulation is different compared to rain wherein the droplets will vary according to the intensity of the rain storm and as such the car’s wipers will have a hard time dealing with snow compared to rain. This is again pretty much on the spot in DriveClub. However the best way to experience this effect is during night time wherein snow, a partly solid material, is lit up by the front lights of the car. This is another classic example of dynamic lighting that DriveClub employs.

snow driveclub

Snow resulting into more water accumulation.

rain driveclub

Rain resulting into lesser water accumulation.

Each particle is lit due to dynamic lighting.

Both rain and snow particles are dynamically affected by the velocity and the direction the car is moving. Depending on speed the car is travelling, rain drops will stray on the sides of the windshield and will automatically slide down should you reduce the speed. The droplets will slide left or right or remain stationary due to the pressure created between the wind and the windshield resulting into an accurate water particle simulation. Even the car windows depict this simulation. The water on the car windows will seep through in horizontal direction since they are in the same axis as the incoming window. This is the precise reason why you won’t see water falling down in a vertical fashion when you are sitting inside in a real moving car.

Evolution Studios have literally nailed the simulation of rain and snow in a video game. But how does the engine behave under dynamic conditions when you are going through a dry section of the track, say a tunnel? Fortunately, it behaves as expected. The windshield dries up in proportion to the number of times the wiper wipes the front shield and the windows lack any vertical water formation. And as soon as you are out in the wet, the simulation runs again. Absolutely phenomenal.

driveclub water effect

In those areas where there is no rain such as this tunnel, notice the lack of horizontal formation of water on the left. Due to the lack of rain and its horizontal force, water does not accumulate in a horizontal fashion.

driveclub water effect

And as soon as you are out in the open, you can clearly see horizontal formation of water on the left due to rain.

It goes without saying that the car’s handling also changes depending on the weather condition. When snow is dropping, the tracks become slippery which means you will be sliding around a lot especially during corners. This happens due to the tires slipping as they try hard to get a grip on the road due to insufficient frictional force. In case of rain, when the car goes over a puddle, the frictional force between tires and roads is almost zero which results into a few bumps. We tried simulating both of these situations and the car slightly loses its frictional force. However, we are not sure how many players will actually notice this subtle effect.

We also saw several instance of global illumination and screen space reflection wherein the brake glow (which is due to the conversion of kinetic energy into heat) will reflect on the wet surface. The vehicle’s body will accordingly get wet with rain and each drop will have individual dynamic lighting depending on the multi layer shaded paint of the car’s body. All in all, DriveClub is one of the best looking racers we have ever played and might possibly have the best simulation of rain and snow in video games. It’s a visual splendour and a technical achievement of the year by Evolution Studios, although it’s a shame that the game launched with several issues and without the weather patch back in October.

Comparison with weather in Forza Horizon 2:

Check out the video in 1080p and 60fps.

So how does the weather in DriveClub matches up with Forza Horizon 2? Honestly speaking, we haven’t seen anything like DriveClub till date. Don’t get us wrong, Forza Horizon 2 is a superb game with fantastic looking tracks and scenery but its lighting engine is simply not up to the level of DriveClub.

The rain simulation in Forza Horizon 2, although a step above other racing games, does not feature the dynamic accumulation and physics of rain droplets as seen in DriveClub. There is a decent level of dynamic lighting on rain particles,especially during night but the technique seems to be inferior to what we have in DriveClub. For someone who owns both the game, the differences might be jarring. Check out the video above for an in-depth comparison between the two.

Note: One of our readers Jonathan Blake partly contributed to this article by providing us with a comparison video for DriveClub and Forza Horizon 2.

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  • Starman

    Let DRIVECLUB try doing it in open world … the game is linear and on rails / track based FH2 is open world …DC couldn’t even hit 1080p and 60fps on a track base vs open world ..stop trying ti compare 2 different driving games .. you guys must not have anything else to write about …
    Bottom line DR under performs and it SUCKS stop trying to save the PS ‘GB’…

    • Steven Johnson

      I seriously doubt the author is trying to save anything. Bill is just reporting on the phenomenal weather effects in the amazing Driveclub.

    • jayflow

      Have you played DC? I think you let your fanboyism cloud your judgement. I have FH2 and DC, and they’re both good games for what they do. When it comes to weather there is no comparison. DC wins on that front.

    • Psionicinversion

      the point being if it was openworld the game would look nothing like it does now, thats what hes getting at

    • jayflow

      But neither game is built off of “if”. We’re are going by what they both offer right now. If we’re talking about weather, then DC looks better. If we want talk about open world there is no comparison between DC and FH2. We could compare The Crew and FH2 though. By that, FH2 wins. No contest.

    • d0x360

      Indeed but the point is in a closed circuit race you only render what’s directly visible and you know for a fact that you will never have to render anything else. In an open world game what’s visible can change at any time so more resources can be devoted to effects in a closed race.

      I believe that is the point he was making. So I’m essence comparing the visuals with horizon is by its nature an unfair comparison because one has to account for the infinite possibilities of choice in an open world and the other does not.

    • jayflow

      I agree with you. I could probably take his point more serious if he wasn’t being a fanboy about it though.

    • Parhelion88

      Fanboy warning

    • Steven Johnson

      Predictable post warning!

    • Geoffrey Davey

      You just called a racing game “on rails”…. Do you realize how stupid that sounds?

    • jayflow


  • What Evolution has done with Driveclub’s weather system (which extends to the clouds as well) is remarkable, and I hope more games going forward use these techniques.

    • Steven Johnson

      Agreed! Most gamers are still blinded by the launch issues and can’t bring themselves to look into the efforts and technical brilliance that has gone into this game.

  • Mark

    Man I think BOTH games look phenomenal, but during the night time, DriveClub is head and shoulders above FH2. And with that said, we shouldn’t forget the WHOLE package tho. Graphics are just one part of what makes a game great. Personally, I’d take a game with 9/10 graphics, and 9/10 gameplay over anything else. I want it to look great, but also keepe coming back for a ton of hours.

    • corvusmd

      Agreed, DC gets the slight nod when it comes to graphics/weather…but in literally every other category it’s by far in FH2 favor.

    • d0x360

      Well obviously someone would take a game with 9/10 gameplay and graphics lol.

      Speaking of! Just downloaded the new horizon expansion and its thus far fantastic so if you have horizon its worth checking out and if you are a VIP its half off. I got it for free becauae I had $36 in xbl rewards…$36 in rewards for just this month I dunno why I earned so much but thanks! Last month I earned $42 but that’s because I bought a bunch or games digitally.

    • Mark

      Where do u find ur XBL rewards? GWG section? I forgot all about this. Just went digital last month.

  • DrGhettoblaster

    Agree, Driveclubs weather is astounding. Probably quite literally best I’ve seen in a videogame to date. Kindof a shame it wasn’t in their at launch only cause it may have improved review scores a little.

  • jacksjus

    What’s the point of the wipers being on in FH2 when clearly the windshield isn’t getting wet?

    • d0x360

      What? You can see the drops of water even in the low res version of this video. Perhaps you should try the HD version and look closer

    • jacksjus

      Originally I was referring to the night scene. Sorry I didn’t make that clear. Yes I can see the wetting in the day portion, but not so much at night. I can’t speak for the quality of the two split videos.

  • corvusmd

    Ok, now compare the sizes of the open world and tracks.

    Yes, no doubt DC looks a little bit better, not a ton, but a bit….both games look great though. However, for me personally, when it comes to fun factor, it’s all about FH2. I like open world racers, not closed course ones.

    • Michael Norris

      DC looks more than a bit better…

    • Michael Norris

      ROFL yet most racing games are closed courses.

  • d0x360

    Both look great but no doubt about it in terms of interaction on vehicles drive club has better weather. Neither are however dynamic in the sense that they are physical objects. Both are scripted animations. The difference is drive club has multiple animations that are mixed in randomly based on location, velocity and conditions. Its a very convincing effect but we are still at least a generation away from realtime droplet simulation because you have also to simulate wind dynamics something drive club doesn’t do. Forza has since forza 2 and continues to do so but it doesn’t use that simulation with water. That’s very resource intensive… Very.

    Nvidia hasn’t even perfected wind interaction with fluid dynamics on a dual titan setup and all it was running was water on a black background.

  • GHz

    DC wins for better rain animation. A product of it NOT being an open world racer. And prettier rain comes easy when DC car physics is not as advanced as FH2 car physics. There is a lot to consider. But who cares, that’s some pretty rain DC showing off 😀

    • Michael Norris

      Eh if DC was open world it would still have a great weather system.The rain would look the same,the only details i can see dropping is the foliage detail.The game overall could still look very close to how it looks now. Also i don’t think open world is always the best route for racing games.

    • bardock5151

      This is what the devs got a couple of months after launch, with 9 months of a delay along with being a simple track racer and you think they would get the same effects in an open world environment? That’s more than overly optimistic.

    • GHz

      Wow. You know for sure it would be foliage? How? I only targeted rain because the article is about rain. The point of what I was suggesting is that DC rain looks good because the game engine is doing less. If it was open world, it would’ve had to give up something. Ar least we both agree on that. How do we know? Because despite them using cheaper AA + going the lighting friendly deffered rendering, they only managed a locked 30fps closed circuit. That is telling you that they are maxed out. So if they go open world something gotta give. And my moneys on anything CPU intensive. But you’re 100% sure it will be foilage? So being that you’re so good at specifics, why not less richer textures? Or less polys for the environment etc? How about all that new physics they’d had to implement to anticipate the sudden change of terrain, vehicle interaction with terrain, during a stormy weather so on & so on? Mind you I’m no expert. I’m just thinking about the bigger picture. So Explain to me why you’re so sure it’s going to be only foliage?

  • Guest

    Surprised the WeakStation 4 can pull off these visuals with its netbook processor… Then again, it’s a corridor racer at 30 fps. Easiest thing to render.

    • Steven Johnson

      Ahhh the comment of an 8 year old.. Cute!

    • Michael Norris

      ROLF you mean the very same processor inside of your Gimpbox one?

    • MPTheGreek

      The same processor has xbone. Sony could always over clock theirs with a patch. They don’t need to since the gpu is half a teraflop more powerful than xbone.

  • Michael Norris

    Drive Club has the best looking weather system period.

  • freddy_uk

    they done very good job with driveclub!

  • MPTheGreek

    There goes the only thing xtots had left to brag about.

  • TheWayItsMeantToBePlayed

    I’d be impressed if it wasn’t being done back circa Grand Prix 4 and Need For Speed Porsche Unleashed. A sprite filter and retexturing being “impressive” shows how stagnant graphics have become on consoles especially since it’s all baked in on Driveclub and there is no real time weather change.

    Let’s revisit this argument when the PC version of Project CARS comes out and see how “Impressive” it is.

  • Noscope64

    yes this game has a horrible launch, but that should be not the game should be based on. here is a list on other game horrible launches, but you an see ‘World of Warcraft’ (the biggest mmo of all time) is on there. so a horrible launch does not mean the game is bad…


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