The racing sim is back but is it better than ever? Here’s everything you need to know.
Among the bigger releases this month – not to mention future racing game competition like DiRT 5 and Gran Turismo 7 – Project CARS 3 stands out. Releasing on August 28th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC, it features a number of revamps, new features and gameplay changes to draw in new and old fans alike. What do you need to know before picking it up? Let’s take a look at 15 key points here.
“Spiritual Successor” to Need for Speed Shift
While Project CARS 2 was more about variation, the sequel is more focused on fun. Slightly Mad Studios head Ian Bell told GT Planet that Project CARS 3 is “more of a spiritual successor” to Need for Speed Shift but “with all of the sim goodness everyone appreciates. The key focus though is on fun and not biting off more than we can properly chew and digest.” Players can expect less of a sandbox in favor of more structure, though the sandbox elements haven’t been done away with entirely.
“Visceral” Sense of Speed and “Intense” Crash Effects
“Speed” is also an important aspect of the game, which is an understatement since this is a racing sim. The developer promised a “new emphasis on the visceral sense of speed” along with “intense crash effects” and “authentic car-contact.” It hasn’t gone into too much detail on each of these but is looking to deliver a deeper sim experience without overwhelming new players.
No Pit Stops
Perhaps to reinforce that “visceral” sense of speed, Project CARS 3 won’t have pit stops. That’s because fuel depletion and tire wear have been eliminated completely. Principle handling designer Nick Pope says this resulted in “much closer and more consistent racing” when speaking to TeamVVV, with players being able to focus on “the actual racing and driving of these amazing cars and their upgrades”. Tire management will still be a thing though with tire temperature being dynamic and affecting handling during a race, to say nothing of tire pressure. So don’t count on just cruising by.
Different Game, Same Engine
One thing that Project CARS 3 won’t really be moving away from is the previous game’s engine. Even with Slightly Mad Studios being acquired by Codemasters, it will still rely on its own engine instead of the latter’s Ego Engine. Speaking to IGN, director of production Peter Morrish explained that the situation is somewhat like Unity and Unreal. “Codemasters have their own engine and we have our own engine. It’s a bit like Unity and Unreal, say; you can’t take stuff from Unreal and stick it directly into Unity, and we’re the same sort of thing.” Not that anyone was expecting a huge overhaul with the engine anyway but at the very least, there will be some familiarity for series’ fans. In the end, it comes down to the actual gameplay and content that the engine will facilitate.
Over 200 Cars
Project CARS 3 features more than 200 cars, from new entries to returning vehicles from Project CARS 2. Among these are cars from Acura like the NSX and NSX GT3; Audi’s R18, R8 (LMP900) and TTS Racing; the BAC Mono; Bugatti’s Chiron Sport; and much more. A comprehensive car list has yet to be released but brands like Chevrolet, Cadillac, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, McLaren and so on are all here. You can also apply full conversion kits to cars to keep them competitive against the very best.
Cars can be upgraded with different parts to change up their handling and power while players can employ various license plates, liveries, decals, rims and tires for cosmetic changes.
Over 140 Global Tracks
Over 140 global tracks await in locations like Australia, Brazil, China, England, the USA and more. Again, while a comprehensive track list isn’t available yet, Slightly Mad Studios has confirmed tracks like Daytona International Speedway, Mount Panorama Circuit,Shanghai, Tuscany and Knockhill Racing Circuit. Is it too much to hope for Le Mans? Probably but we need our 24 hour racing fix.
Let’s talk about the Career Mode, which has undergone several changes since the last game. There are 10 different car classes to play through as you earn XP and Credits, complete various objectives, acquire more cars and build up your own legacy. XP from other modes will also contribute to one’s overall progress. Rewards scale with different objectives and if you want to commit to one single discipline, then go for it. Similarly, those who want to try a bit of everything can do just that and expect similar rewards.
Much like the Forza series, Project CARS 3 will have driver personalization. You’ll choose a character as your avatar in-game and customize their appearance with different outfits and helmets. Whether players can adjust physical aspects like hair type and color, face type and whatnot is unknown. But you can purchase new cosmetics with credits when you tire of adding more cars to your garage.
Seasons, Weather and 24 Hour Cycles
Players can race through a number of seasons and weather conditions with both being described as dynamic. One can also expect 24 hour cycles, which means a race could start in the afternoon and slowly transition to the nighttime (and perhaps vice versa). It remains to be seen just how much the various seasons and weather effects will impact one’s racing experience, but Slightly Mad has confirmed that racing in a thunderstorm at night is a thing that will definitely pose a challenge.
If you’re not the most hardcore racing sim fan and want things to be more arcade-like, it’s possible to toggle on different assists to tone down the realism. A nice touch is the custom event mode having all cars and tracks available right away, allowing players to try out everything and tweak the settings where appropriate. Overall, Slightly Mad Studios is promising a “much more welcoming” experience for newcomers without sacrificing the sim aspects.
Once you’ve cruised through the Career Mode and other single-player content, you can hop online and race against other players. There are three modes – Quick Play for hopping into a quick race; Scheduled Event which consists of races created entirely by the developer; and Custom Lobby where players can customize every single setting and others to join in. Lacking a specific car for an event? The game allows you to borrow one for taking part, though it can’t be customized or upgraded. Skill-based matchmaking is also confirmed which should help keep things fair.
Asynchronous multiplayer is also a thing with Rivals. The mode consists of daily, weekly and monthly challenges which will net players XP and Rivals Coins. You’ll compete in the leaderboards against other players but there will be divisions in these, along with relegation and promotion based on one’s performance. Players will take on dynamic ghosts of those closest in the leaderboard, all for the sake of improving performance and climbing the ranks.
Though players will earn in-game currency for purchasing different cars and upgrades, said currency can also be used to skip over any events. There aren’t any microtransactions though – all currency is earned in-game through your own efforts. There will still be paid DLC though with the recently revealed Season Pass offering access to four DLC packs in the coming days.
PC System Requirements
For a hardcore racing sim, the official PC requirements are surprisingly manageable. Minimum requirements include an Intel Core i5-3450 at 3.5 GHz or an AMD FX-8350 at 4 GHz; 8 GB of memory; an Nvidia GTX 680 or equivalent; and Windows 10, though some versions of Windows 7 will also work. Recommended requirements include an Intel i7-8700K or AMD Ryzen 7 2700K, 16 GB memory, an Nvidia RTX 2070 or AMD RX5700, and Windows 10 exclusively.
VR and 12K Resolution Support
Slightly Mad Studios has promised “best-in-class” VR support for Project CARS 3 on PC, though the jury is still out on how good it really is. Nevertheless, whether you’re on the minimum or recommended hardware set-up, an Nvidia GTX 980 or equivalent will be needed for VR (or playing on three screens for that matter). Support for 12K resolution on PC is also confirmed though what you’ll need to achieve this also remains to be seen.