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Even with the main two racing series of Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo taking a much-needed break, Microsoft and Sony have been dominating the air waves when it comes to the racing genre with its respective exclusive titles Forza Horizon 2 and Driveclub. But let's not forget a few upstarts from Slightly Mad Studios as well as the stalwart Codemasters for its commitment to the genre.
Both developers are hanging in there with the best of them, and a few are already committed to virtual reality between Sony's Project Morpheus and the Oculus Rift. With the following five titles, the racing genre has plenty of fuel for 2014. Which ones are you most excited for?
Announced during the PlayStation 4's initial launch, Driveclub has gone through an extensive delay, but Sony seems well-prepared for the game's current release date of October 7, 2014 in North America. Developer by MotorStorm's Evolution Studios, it will straddle the line between simulation and arcade while emphasizing team multiplayer modes with online car clubs and plenty of team versus action.
Testing it for the first time at E3, I was drawn to Thrustmaster T80 RS Racing Wheel (as well as the paired racing seat which I have no idea what the hell is called) and the well-integrated local play. The recent trailers for Driveclub show dynamic weather like rain and snow. Hopefully, Sony will deliver on the promise of making a free but limited version of the game for PlayStation Plus members.
Though there are no plans for virtual reality, this is one PS4 title I hope is eventually made compatible with Sony's proprietary Project Morpheus as proof that a first-person perspective with the title would work.
Slightly Mad Studios has been keeping itself busy this year (the developer will be appearing one more time on this list), and its collaboration with Bandai Namco on Project C.A.R.S. is already slated for release this year on next-gen consoles. The project was originally announced for the PS3 and X360, but was likely upgraded during production to release solely on XOne, PS4, and PC some time this November (later on Wii U and SteamOS/Linux).
Interestingly enough, while the game needed funding without a publisher, some of the players who purchased the Tool Packs and contributed to the game's development will earn a share of the sales profits within the first two years of the game's launch. Project C.A.R.S. is meant to be a realistic driving simulation with players being granted access to all of the tracks and vehicles up front and being able to participate in multiday events.
So far, 67 drivable cars and 52 race tracks, some of which are unnamed due to licensing agreements and some of which are fictional, have been announced, along with Oculus Rift support. Sony's Project Morpheus will also be supported once it's ready.
Watch out, folks, this could be a sleeper hit.
Codemasters has been keeping things quiet about F1 2014, but they've released some information on the developer's official blog in late July.
Winding down from GRID: Autosport, F1 2014 for X360, PS3, and PC will be arriving October 17, including turbocharged cars and new circuits. Apart from tweaks made to the handling system, the game will evaluate the player's overall skill and tuning the difficulty settings accordingly by default. There will also be a Very Easy setting for accessibility.
Codemasters is also teasing a next-gen F1 game of some sort on XOne, PS4, and PC. This game will receive live digital updates and "launch earlier in the Formula One season and then go onto receive live digital updates."
World of Speed
Chances are you haven't even heard of World of Speed, likely because it's being published by My.com (so PC-only), but you'll surprised to learn that it's developer by Slightly Mad Studios, who appeared earlier on this list for Project C.A.R.S.
I had the opportunity to test out local multiplayer at a My.com GDC appointment this year in a versus battle between two teams of two. I remember speeding away with the win with the other players failing to round corners properly.
In terms of graphics and speed, it played similar to the non-sandbox games in the Burnout series. World of Speed will feature various weather conditions and tracks taken from the real world with both public roads and urban street roads. 16 cars have already been confirmed for the title including the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and Renault Sport Megane R.S.
World of Speed will enter Closed Beta later in 2014, but you can sign up for it here.
Forza Horizon 2
Last but certainly not least, Forza Horizon 2 by Microsoft and Turn 10 Studios will be crashing the party soon and earlier than everyone else on this list it seems, slated for release on September 30, 2014 exclusively for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
With Playground Games and Sumo Digital on its side, Forza Horizon 2 will once again revolve around the fictional Horizon Festival as players explore the open world for racing opportunities. While that means that it can only run at 30fps, the environment still looks fantastic and the world is supposed to be three times as large as Forza Horizon's.
Better yet, it will adapt the Drivatar technology from Forza Motorsport 2 and bring the Online Drivatars into the races for Forza Horizon 2 to fill in the AI competitors. Players can drive in France or Italy with dynamic weather while meeting the Bucket List of challenges in both environments.
I had the chance at E3 2014 (read my preview here) to barrel down the slick roads near the countryside after a downpour of rain, as I swerved away from oncoming traffic in a Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4. Hey, we gave the game our E3 Award for Best Racer, so you know we're excited for its release.