Before I get any further I have to mention that R3E has come a long way since its initial launch in early 2013. The game is no longer heavily based around micro-transactions, and has been turned around since the SimBin bankruptcy into a proper successor to Race 07, complete with a multitude of expansion packs and all of the unnessecary garbage cut out. I always see a lot of people call this shit “simcade” on other virtual motorsport forums and that’s just flat-out idiotic. It’s more or less Race 2015, which in turn is another way of saying it’s a refined version of rFactor. Dropping money on it depends if you’re comfortable spending yet another handful of $$$ on rFactor or Race expansions (even though you swore you wouldn’t).
That being said, today Sector 3 released a massive update that completely re-worked the game’s less than stellar force feedback, and totally redid most of the GT2 cars, adding new liveries as well asthe Cadillac PWC car that’s been in iRacing for a few years now.
Eh, let’s get around to it.
I’m in Canuckistan so online was predictably dead when I got home from work, a mere 20 people online participating in a session, and the WTCC room you can see in the background was on Amateur difficulty, so that rules out two kids right there. Each room appears to be a dedicated server for a series that rotates among a few different tracks, each with a ten minute Practice and Qualifying session followed by a fifteen minute race. Ideally this is the perfect format to get a group of guys on Teamspeak together and go lobby hopping as a group (we did this in GSC Extreme the other night against a bunch of Brazilian dudes), but unfortunately for someone like me who was flying solo for the time, I was insanely lucky to get into a populated GT2 room to try out the new cars.
The load times are still atrocious – my bag of barbeque Doritos were the sole entity to keep me company throughout a long three minutes, but on track, it’s not bad. I would personally prefer for Sector 3 to just switch entirely to RealFeel under the hood, but thankfully with this update my Logitech Profiler settings I use for both rFactor and GSCX worked perfectly in R3E. In the past I had to mess around with the centering spring and really fuck with the in-game values as the default FFB settings for R3E a few builds ago were downright horrid and on-par with arcade cabinet racers, but most of my issues with the FFB seem to have been rectified. Again, I’d prefer for them to drop their internal progress with FFB and just go out and grab the best RealFeel settings. Good RealFeel makes GSCX feel on-par with Assetto Corsa, and even with shitty FFB in previous builds, the way R3E drives already feels close to AC (with how the car reacts to small bumps and elevation changes), and Game Stock Car even moreso.
Monitor-wise, the circular layout is clunky and the overly-simplified race monitor itself isn’t a change I particularly like. rFactor, GTR2, F1 Challenge, NASCAR SimRacing, and GSCX all have it right. The minimalist HUD while actually driving, including the slick livetiming overlays (above) are really nicely done though. Chat text is easy to read, and all the info that’s actually essential for running an online race (seriously, some people clutter their screen using rF plugins and it’s a total mess) are all there.
I guess now we have to get to the driving though.
I threw in my baseline rFactor setup from the 4Chan GT3 league I ran earlier this year, and like a retard I forgot to fuck with the anti-roll bars because according to everyone else who tries my setups, they’re extremely loose on turn-in or something. As predicted, the car drove pretty good out of the box, it just wouldn’t turn and I had to really back up my braking points. We were at the Indy layout of Brands Hatch, and even with a few blown corners, it was difficult to loop the car. Took until the end of the session, but I put the car on the front row. I was really impressed with the detail of the circuit, particularly how in turn 2 (it probably has a name) I could see the slight waves in the tarmac near the kerb, and when I put the car right on the apex, I could feel the subtle bumps and imperfections in the pavement. Pretty crazy how a good track mesh can make the ancient gMotor engine come alive and be on-par with stuff like Assetto Corsa.
Unfortunately, and this is something that needs to be changed, the moment Qualifying ends, you go straight to the grid. I never got a chance to soften the front Anti-Roll Bar.
I took the lead off the start and was impressed at how clean everyone was driving. Yes, most of the grid was within two seconds of each other, but usually you’ll see everyone monumentally fuck up the first turn regardless of how sportsmanlike everyone is. The BMW on the pole went wide through the first corner and I pulled ahead. At some point a Corvette got in front of me (I let him, it was cool) and proceeded to spin a few corners later.
Near the end of the race some dude in a RUF got in front of me. I don’t have screenshots of this because I was actually trying to race the guy and he was properly kicking my ass, but one thing I noticed is that he was understeering so bad it almost looked like a front-wheel drive civic in the snow, yet it was somehow faster. The only reason I got the lead back was because he stuffed up turn one and I just sorta dumped him because I’m a cunt and know how to do that. These cars have fenders, it’s cool.
As is the case with a lot of racing sims, very rarely do you have an entire room full of equally talented guys, so most drivers lost the leader after a few laps and proceeded to retire. While the podium was a RUF sweep, all four GT2 cars in R3E took part in the race, with a BMW winning the pole and at one point a Corvette passing me for the lead. Balance-wise, there didn’t seem to be any issues. And I’m loving the fact that I can move the seat so far forward that my nose is inside the steering wheel, since anytime I’m in rFactor or GSC I have to manually edit INI files to get the cockpit view I like (hint: Ferrari 355 Challenge with a higher FOV so I get a better sense of speed is the look I go for).
FPS wise, I can’t really comment because I run a supercharged potato and occasionally have to turn shit down. But anyways, I don’t mind this update and R3E only seems to get better with time. Hopefully more people get into it since it’s completely different than the disaster it was a few years ago and is very close to being even with Game Stock Car Extreme.