It’s difficult for us to publish a piece of news on patch notes alone, as I personally find them boring as all hell. So for those interested, R3E’s June 2015 update came out today, and here’s the minimalist version of what was included in the 9GB download:
- Custom Lobby Support
- New Transmission Model
- New sounds
- Better UI
- Better load times
- More liveries
- Tons of bug fixes and optimizations
Instead of writing why all these additions benefit the game, it’s easier to just say what I tested and how the game performed. I joined a custom lobby that featured the 1992 DTM cars at Zandvoort with four minutes left in qualifying. Selecting the Opel, because I wanted to be a special snowflake, I adjusted my seat position quickly and threw an approximated setup at the car with values that seem to work across any car in the gMotor universe. I was really happy to see the long load times that really caused a problem in the past were totally eradicated. Load times in R3E are now on par with any other gMotor sim.
Sector 3 have totally gotten rid of the annoying circular orb menu layout that was seen in everything from the garage area to the main menu of the game itself. Starting with this new update, all aspects of the menu layout reflect a natural progression from Race 07 to R3E. To longtime Race 07 players, it will all feel very familiar, and that’s a good thing.
The first thing I noticed were the sounds. Sector 3 have added a ton of new effects, including stuff like wind noise, road noise, and chassis creaking. To be honest, they’re not welcome additions. By default, all of these extra sounds are turned up way too high, and your brain simply stops processing everything being thrown at you. I found myself turning a lot of the new effects almost completely down because there was too much going on, and that defeated the point of the new sounds altogether. I really like the wind noise during the first few laps I ran because it was pretty damn cool, but when you combine it with transmission whine, suspension creaking, backfires, opponent engines, tire squealing, brake screeching… It doesn’t sound immersive, just sounds like the game is playing twenty different audio files at once. There’s only so much a decent set of PC speakers can do. Maybe this isn’t a problem with surround sound systems or high-quality gaming headsets, but not everyone has those. To me, it was just too much.
During the opening laps of the fifteen minute race, I really began to notice the redone transmission model, and how it affected my braking. In short, I had to focus a bit more than I usually do on hitting my marks, because the car would shudder and shake a little bit differently in each braking zone as I went down through the gears. It’s a welcome change compared to Game Stock Car Extreme, where downshifting is something you rarely need to think about. The more laps I ran, the more natural it felt, unlike iRacing’s attempt at a new transmission model many years ago where the driveshaft wobble was greatly exaggerated just to show that “hey, we re-did the transmission physics this build!”
With the introduction of custom lobbies comes the impending threat of lag and netcode issues, and I’m happy to say that R3E’s custom lobbies perform just as good as the official rooms. The race saw myself and another guy in a Mustang constantly trading places for the lead, and it’s incredible how smooth the game was, and how you could pick up the little nuances in your opponents behavior. At times it’s very close to being in a single player race. Contact has also improved from previous versions. gMotor games usually have a hard time simulating contact between two or more cars, often leading to awkward shunts that happen well after the aggressive maneuver has been made, and R3E for the most part fixes this. In previous builds, weight and momentum were transferred almost too easily, leading to AC-like crashes where a small bump at the wrong time sends both of you helplessly into the barrier, but it seems to have been toned down. In the above picture, Kristof lost it out of turn one because I hadn’t forced him to run the high line yet, and he slammed into the side of me. What would have ended both of our races in previous builds lead to only slight damage and being knocked off our lines with this new update.
Other minor fixes made it into the update as well – you can now jump the start, there’s a one minute period before the race where you can make last-minute adjustments to your setup, and you can swap between the base game and the ADAC/DTM expansions with a really nice drop-down menu at the top of the screen.
With Open Wheel cars, the Nordschleife, Macau, and new WTCC cars coming, R3E appears to only be getting better. Unfortunately, living in Canada, online is still primarily a ghost town as the primarily European user base tends to be safely tucked into bed by the time I get home from work. During my time testing, the server browser never had more than 20 people racing across all sessions combined. Maybe with custom lobby support, sites like RaceDepartment will begin organizing club & league races within R3E.