After all this time, the Test Drive series will be making a comeback with Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown. Developed by KT Racing and published by Nacon, it’s once again about racing within the more luxurious circles of society, climbing up the ladder and living it up in style. Launching in September 2022 for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC and Nintendo Switch, let’s take a closer look at the new things you should know about Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown.
Open World Racing
The Test Drive series first began in 1987 but the Test Drive Unlimited series is more contemporary. It started in 2006 with Eden Games’ Test Drive Unlimited, which introduced a large open world that captured 1000 miles of road in O’ahu, one of the larger Hawaiian Islands. Test Drive Unlimited 2 released in 2011 and added the island of Ibiza into the mix, this time offering some 1,864 miles of road. As the third game in the series, Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown releases more than a decade after its predecessor and despite the shift in location, one aspect will be very familiar to fans of Test Drive Unlimited 2 (and no, we’re not just talking about the Solar Crown championship itself).
Gambling for Vehicles
One of the major and more beloved DLCs for the second game was Casino Online which had a variety of different games available to try. The casino appears to be making a return in Solar Crown but there have been teases of putting your cars on the line and gambling for the same. It would certainly fit into the more luxury-heavy tone that recent trailers have offered, not to mention the one-on-one battles in Test Drive Unlimited 2 that required putting one’s car up as a prize. But again, how this will all exactly work remains to be seen.
Hong Kong Island
The setting this time around is Hong Kong Island which promises to be a 1:1 recreation of the real world location. At 30.34 square miles, the island offers a wide array of things to see, from Victoria Harbour with its light shows to Victoria Peak with its trams and stunning view of the city. How many miles of road this equals is still yet to be revealed. Nevertheless, KT Racing has confirmed the presence of forests, marshes, beaches and mountains along with the city that should make for some fun races (albeit with left-hand traffic, which is a first for the series).
WRC8’s Framework and Handling Model
Further evidence of racing across different types of environments and surfaces can be found in reports from June 2020, where KT Racing confirmed it was using the framework and handling model of Kylotonn’s WRC 8. Though the latter is focused on rally racing, it received a significant amount of praise for its handling model and realism. It should be interesting to see how this translates over to Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown especially since Kylotonn also has WRC 10 coming in September 2021 (which will likely offer improvements on its own formula).
Freedom of Progression
Solar Crown also promises players the freedom to progress as they like. However, the developer notes that you have to work your way up to being able to drive some of the more luxurious offerings. This may function akin to Test Drive Unlimited 2’s story mode which required one to earn racing licenses in order to partake in races for each vehicle class. Win races and rise through the ranks to earn enough money for some of the better vehicles and eventually, you’d be able to progress to some of the bigger races. Perhaps Solar Crown will allow players to race only in the vehicle classes that they desire and make their own road to the championship. Again, we’ll have to wait and see.
Streets and Sharps
With all this talk of working your way up through the ranks and whatnot, it’s worth noting that there is a story of sorts. It centers on a rivalry between two clans, the Streets and Sharps. Once you decide which to join, you begin to build up your profile and eventually take down the other clan. Each clan reportedly has their own unique choices of vehicles, likely affecting which ones you start out with among other things. Work your way up high enough and a life of luxury – along with the chance to eliminate your rivals – seemingly awaits.
Classic Open Championship
Along with competing directly against a rival clan, Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown will also see the return of the Classic Open Championship. In the previous game, there were Classic Championship races which involved competing in C Class aka Classic vehicles like the Chevrolet Corvette C1 1957, Jaguar E-Type and Lotus Esprit S3. This was one type of challenge though and completing all of the races in the Classic Championship would lead to a duel. Does this mean different kinds of challenges in the form of Championships returning with Solar Crown? What changes will be seen in the Classic Open Championship? Time will certainly tell.
Confirmed Vehicle Manufacturers
In the Head to Head trailer for Solar Crown, the Aston Martin DB11 and Land Rover Range Rover SVR were showcased. It also showcased vehicles for Audi, Bentley and Mercedes-Benz. Though a full list of manufacturers has yet to be provided, the game’s Steam page has confirmed the likes of Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, Dodge, Koenigsegg, Apollo and Bugatti. Car customization has also been confirmed but you’ll also have to work on your own personal style.
Much like its predecessor, Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown will feature avatar customization. The Head to Head trailer showcased both male and female drivers, and it’s likely that players can purchase a variety of different clothes from brands across the island. Social status is apparently everything here so you’ve got to look good. There should also be some kind of base to customize as well, if the swanky collections and decorations of the trailer were any indication but KT Racing has yet to confirm this till now.
Again, there’s very little information to go off of when it comes to multiplayer but the title’s Steam page has noted that you can, “Race, cruise, and hang out with your friends until the sun goes down and even after.” If it’s anything like the previous games, then free roam driving for up to eight players in a session should be possible. If players own different houses in-game, it wouldn’t be all that strange to have the option to walk around in them as well. It should be interesting to see what new online modes and features Solar Crown can bring to the table compared to its predecessors, especially with the power of today’s consoles.