DriveClub preview: back on the road

By Ozzie Mejia, May 22, 2014 7:00am PDT

There's no denying that DriveClub has hit some roadblocks on its way to release. But after hitting a brief rest stop, Evolution Studios is ready to hit the road again and hit the finish line. Shacknews recently had the opportunity to check out the upcoming PS4-exclusive racer and see some of the major additions its made since it was last seen at last year's E3.

Firstly, DriveClub has undergone a significant UI overhaul. Evolution has perfectly emulated the PlayStation 4 front end, in an effort to make the game's social features easier to navigate. It also gives a quick update on what friends have been up to and offers an overview of their Club contributions.

"We're trying to create an always-seamless, always-connected, always-instant way to create connections with new friends, new clubs, and add this experience where you always feel like there's something going on inside the world of DriveClub," said DriveClub game director Paul Rustchynsky.

Evolution has also been hard at work on the main racing portion of the game. The studio has made sure to add a full day/night cycle, one that players will notice depending on what time they set their races to begin. Dynamic lighting, weather, and volumetric clouds also help add to the real-world atmosphere. The day/night cycle did indeed kick in during my time with the game, as I watched the sun gradually come up in the distance as I proceeded through a 3am race and the sunny/cloudy weather adjusted itself accordingly. Although it should be noted that I did attempt to set one of my later races to 'stormy' and did not get the visible rain effects I was expecting.

Just as was the case the last time Shacknews got to try out DriveClub, races were filled with dynamic challenges. One scenario asked me to earn cornering points across a certain turn, while another tasked me with taking a sharp curve with the highest average speed. Challenges add to the Club's overall score and also help individuals earn various rewards and new cars.

DriveClub will feature dozens of playable tracks, both based on real-world locations and others created from scratch by the developers. The game's locales include Scotland, Canada, Chile, India, and Norway, among many others. While some of the real-world locations feature their own unique challenges, DriveClub's dev-created tracks aim to add some additional challenges, such as hills and point-to-point races.

The social aspect of the game continues even after the race is over. Players are prompted to forward their challenges to friends. Anyone that receives a challenge can either choose to accept, forward it on to another friend, or do both. The more people get wrapped up into a challenge, the greater the reward will be for anyone that completes it.

In the spirit of remaining social, Evolution is also looking to release the MyDrive app on iOS and Android. The app allows individuals to keep track of leaderboards, stats, and Club records. It also gives players a chance to peek at friends that are currently broadcasting their session and track their progress through a live streaming feature.

Evolution is hard at work at trying to create a social driving experience with DriveClub. They're also aiming to get both the environments and their vast array of cars as accurate as possible, as indicated by their efforts to refine the game's audio and capture the true sound of each individual vehicle.

Whether DriveClub has done enough to stand out from a crowded pack of racing simulators remains to be seen, but the long-awaited racer will start its engines on October 7 on PS4.

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