In theory, Sector 3’s concept of opening up everything RaceRoom Racing Experience has to offer for one weekend in June was a flawless idea. The game is loved by the handful of drivers who choose to call it their main sim, but the absurd pricing model turns off all but the most diehard of racing sim enthusiasts. Managing to achieve a relatively niche following, with new users trickling into the game primarily through word of mouth, the Free Weekend promotion opened the floodgates to a huge wave of new users.
On most days when I come home from work, R3E is a ghost town online. It doesn’t help that I’m in Canada and the majority of R3E drivers are across the pond in Europe, but this picture accurately demonstrates the limited options I’m presented with when I feel like racing online. The size of the online userbase definitely increases during Euro-centric hours, but never to a size where rooms can be considered populated. There’s basically one room with a bunch of people, and a handful of rooms with one or two drivers.
Obviously, with all content in the free-to-play racing sim being temporarily unlocked, online activity saw a noticeable increase.
I personally really enjoy R3E, so at first I was stoked. Even some of the game’s older content that we’ve been advised to stay away from, such as the GTR X cars, were getting some love thanks to the game’s really simple dedicated server application.
However, making the game totally free for a few days doesn’t just open up the racing sim to experienced drivers curious about a title that rivals their personal sim of choice – it also unleashes waves of noobs that as of this writing, have made most servers insufferable.
There’s no way to describe it other than pure chaos. Most people couldn’t keep their cars on the track for more than a lap or two. Every wallpaper-worthy screenshot I took had someone gloriously shitting the bed in the background.
Despite the huge grids, very few people in practice or qualifying were competent enough to complete a lap. Those that did were woefully off pace, despite the consensus away from PRC.net about R3E’s allegedly dumbed down physics. In both a GTR X room, and a mixed class P2/GT3 room, multiple people spun off the starting grid. This, in a game where you can shift into first before the lights go out and it feels like there’s a built-in launch control.
It’s a frustrating experience, as time and time again I’d spend a decent amount of time running laps in practice, only to see that 90% of the grid probably shouldn’t have been there. I took the Group 5 Skyline to both Mid-Ohio and Hockenheim, and each lap would pass numerous cars parked on the side of the track. Had there been a 107% cutoff rule in qualifying, 5 of the 24 cars in the room would have been allowed to race. It was really disappointing. There was no point entering a Group 5 room as nobody could deal with the 1970’s turbo lag.
We didn’t even make it to the problematic braking zone in Macau, as a track-blocking wreck occurred mere seconds into what was supposed to be a fifteen minute race.Nothing compares to turn one of the famed Nurburgring. Starting 23rd out of the 24 car field (I joined the server with a minute left in qualifying), I was really excited to see how multi-class racing would work in R3E. I didn’t even make it through the first sector; a huge pack of cars washed out, and then proceeded to simultaneously spin back onto the track. This track has been in numerous high profile racing games for almost a decade, and people still haven’t figured it out.
Again, what could have been a fun 20 minute race was ended before it really even began. Must have been absolutely demoralizing for the people who had taken the time to run proper practice and qualifying laps.
What makes this clusterfuck even more disappointing is that the netcode is really fucking good, and there aren’t any noticeable performance issues, even with a full field. This one can solely be blamed on bad drivers. I look forward to reading other people’s opinions of R3E in the coming days, because the abundance of new users and bored kids who downloaded the game out of curiosity means you sometimes can’t get 800 feet into a race regardless of what car/track combo the server is running. All of these inevitable my experience with R3E threads that’ll pop up will be based off of guys trying and failing to survive 30 seconds of carnage.