Each time I write an article diving deep into the problems plaguing Sector 3’s RaceRoom Racing Experience, I’m always worried I won’t be able to access the hundreds of dollars worth of content available in the title when the following morning arrives. If you haven’t taken the not-so-subtle hints sprinkled throughout previous articles by now, Sector 3 appear to value PRC.net‘s opinion on the world of sim racing, and have kindly granted us Press Access to the game’s massive list of content. Personally, I enjoy the game for what it is, and have used the Press Pass to play the game on my own leisure time – much more than is ever required when covering a game – but if I find something big, I’m not going to hide it from our readers because that’s how we roll. I’m glad at least one developer has been a good sport about it.
Obviously, you’re all well aware that the game costs a fair bit, and that most sim racers are beginning to treat it as the spiritual successor to GTR 2 or Race 07. Personally, I really enjoy the title. It’s got a fairly large list of relevant vehicles and locations, I don’t have any major complaints in regards to the driving model, and the game looks phenomenal for being powered by the trusty engine Image Space Incorporated developed over a decade ago. If you can stomach the cost of the complete package, or carefully plan out the ludicrous journey through micro-transaction hell, a lot of people will be satisfied with their purchase.
But I do more than just race the AI by myself. I love competition. And to be successful at a high level, whether it’s in leagues or online leaderboards, you’re required to learn what everything does in the garage menu. Our boy Maple has taught me everything I know about car setups, and the basic steps to creating a decent road racing setup are as follows:
- Drop the ride height as low as it can go.
- Use the softest springs available.
- Treat the front and rear anti-roll bar like the wedge adjustment in a Stock Car.
- Raise the ride height if it bottoms out. Alternatively, stiffen the springs.
It’s that easy.
With the sheer number of sim racers participating in each Leaderboard Challenge, whether it’s an official competition with prizes or simply a fight for the bragging rights of holding a world record on a certain combination, I’ve spent a fair bit of time fiddling in the garage menu in the quest for an extra tenth of a second.
And I found a lot more than that. Most likely not intended to be discovered, there’s a single setup that works across every car in the game. Try it for yourself:
As I’ve said, I like the driving model featured in R3E. It’s heavily based on the fundamental concepts of driving a race car: brake in a straight line, be smooth with your steering inputs, and unwind the wheel as you step on the throttle. There isn’t any bullshit like in other ISI sims where you can feather the throttle under braking to induce understeer – something that will hurt you if you try it in a real car. In competitive online races, there is never that one guy who’s exploiting something you won’t figure out for a couple of months – like Forza’s Handbrake glitch. The game rewards those who understand the process of driving a race car.
But, in my own experience, there’s gotta be something going on with the physics engine that’s heavily simplifying stuff behind the scenes. Every single car in R3E drives the exact same, to the point where three completely different cars can be driven to the top of their respective leaderboards with the setup above. Instead of an entire roster of dynamic vehicles that each require their own driving style, it feels like only the overall weight and engine power output change from car to car. This allows a setup built for a front-engine modern DTM car and a mid-engine GT3 sports car to be just as effective in a light weight open wheel speedster.
Which, obviously, shouldn’t be the case.
- There is basically no penalty for running the minimum rear wing setting. In other games, your car would be a death trap. Here, you’re given so much straight line speed, you’re required to switch to an alternative final drive configuration so you aren’t bouncing off the limiter on the main straight. In the corners, the car sticks to the ground like glue.
- While most play with the front and rear ARB settings constantly throughout a race weekend, a super soft minimum value allows for excessive body roll, yet the car never breaks traction. Like, ever. Even the Formula RR2 that was released today.
- The suspension geometry, for whatever reason, works universally across all cars. As outlined in the guide above, you can run the softest springs and the smallest ride height, and the car will never scrape the ground. The biggest challenge of getting the ride height correct via a combination of sprint perches and the stiffness of the springs themselves is simply nowhere to be found.
Are these setups race proven? Of course they are. In the GT3 race at Zandvoort shown below, I was able to add another 0.4 seconds onto the gap between myself and Reinhard Berger each time we made the journey down the long front straight. The rear wing simply wasn’t necessary for stability, and had there been an option to remove all pieces of the car generating downforce, I would have. This doesn’t seem right on a flowing, high speed course where the back end should in theory be constantly stepping out with the use of a low – alright let’s go a bit further – no downforce setup.
Taking the exact same setup to the DTM Winter Cup competition at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, I’ve put the car into the Top 10, behind known cheaters and guys representing professional sim racing teams. The only reason I’m not higher, is because I haven’t sat down and figured out where I’m allowed to run wide in certain corners.
I mean, R3E drives good and it certainly looks good, but given that I can run the exact same setup across three very different automobiles, there’s definitely some sorcery being done under the hood in regards to the game’s physics. As mentioned earlier, it’s as if each car is a generic brick, with only the weight and power output adjusted to produce realistic lap times. It’s a throwback to games like Grid Autosport, where the McLaren has a speed of 6 and a weight of 7, and the BMW DTM entry has a speed of 7 and a weight of 6. It would be unfortunate if this were the case, as RaceRoom Racing Experience is fairly costly for newcomers with the excessive micro-transactions. Many would be disappointed to find out they are paying for a Grid Autosport-like title with realistic tire grip levels, especially when racing sims are traditionally held to a higher standard.
As the files themselves are encrypted, and very few talented drivers own enough content in R3E to back up the claims made in this post, we’ll probably never have a definitive answer.