If you’ve been frequenting PRC.net over the past few months, you’ll have noticed that our Assetto Corsa articles are complimented by numerous high resolution screenshots of the AI having what can only be described as temporary mental breakdowns. When the AI troubles were first brought to light by controversial forum users earlier this year, many Assetto Corsa owners believed this small group had modified the game’s vital configuration files and posted the results online in an effort to damage Assetto Corsa’s reputation among the sim racing community.
As I had experienced the exact same AI issues, and was upset over the rabid Assetto Corsa fans’ attempts to downplay a broken component that renders 50% of the title completely useless, I mocked the fanboys in ways only possible with PRC. With each new article would come a new batch of pictures depicting the AI embarrassing itself, all while the fanboys claimed “huge improvements have been made” on the official forums. This shit must have been a total mindfuck for sim racers caught in the crossfire.
And I I was able to provide our readers with a steady stream of glitch pictures, because I discovered the two biggest problems with Assetto Corsa’s AI. Both of which are issues nobody appears to have brought up yet.
When the Nordschleife DLC was released, some Assetto Corsa owners complained that the lap times they could achieve were unrealistic, and asked the developers which track grip setting they should use to replicate real world conditions. By default, track grip is set to optimal as a way to ease newcomers into the sim, and Kunos advised users to select Green or Fast track grip settings for authentic car performance. The default Optimal setting produces what drag racers call mineshaft conditions; an atmosphere that would never occur during real world events.
Immediately after I began running Quick Races under Green or Fast conditions instead of the default setting of Optimal, the AI problems rendered the entire single player component unplayable. The AI appears to have their driving style coded specifically for Optimal track surface grip, which the developers have came out on the forums and stated is not realistic. Their braking and steering inputs are only designed for situations where there is an abundance of grip. Take it away, and all hell breaks loose.
Myself and Sev put this theory to the test. We used the Nurburgring GP circuit as our trial facility, due to the extremely difficult first corner that virtually everyone fucks up – regardless of whether they’re human or a robot. Under optimal grip settings, the AI had no problems executing the corner, although they were a little on the slow side. On the Fast setting, recommended by Kunos, the entire field of AI cars made a beeline for the nearest wall. We were able to replicate this across several different vehicle classes.
At Vallelunga, the AI could not execute the gentle right hander ten seconds into the race under anything other than Optimal conditions. Mixing off-track excursions with their well-documented lack of awareness, not once did I make it to the first braking zone with the remaining handful of cars who avoided the mess.
The Historic version of Monza allowed for some incredible screenshots, as the lack of barriers sent cars flying off of natural ramps along the side of the track.
But the Nurburgring Nordschleife proved to be the ultimate display of artificial intelligence ineptitude. A twelve mile roller-coaster through the Eifel Mountain region, the high speeds and massive elevation changes threw the AI drivers into barriers like children’s toys. The 1967 Lotus 49, an open-wheel legend that competed on this track during the 1967 Grand Prix season, could not last more than a minute into each lap. Starting with a grid of 20 cars, 15 would be listed as retirements only a minute into the race. As you increased the power by selecting faster vehicles, the crashes only became more violent.
But there were multiple layers of AI insanity, and not everything was related to track grip levels. The AI in Assetto Corsa are not just programmed to follow a strict racing line, but they’ve also been made aware of trackside objects. They aren’t the greatest at avoiding them, but they indeed understand the concept of a wall, what kerbs are used for, and where exterior tarmac runoffs are located. They just suck at applying their extra element of knowledge compared to ISI’s AI in the appropriate situations.
Underneath the finish line banner at Zandvoort, between the racing surface and the pit wall, is a relatively useless patch of tarmac. This small piece of asphalt no bigger than your kitchen serves no purpose other than to be aesthetically pleasing. The AI drivers identify this as a runoff area, and computer opponents who start near the back of the grid where the patch is located will drive at full speed onto the tarmac. Depending on the speed of the car and the quality of the brake rotors, AI drivers will either plow into the wall or narrowly avoid it.
This is a game that sells for $50, and already has 27 add-on cars split between three DLC bundles.
The laughs don’t stop there. The Vallelunga circuit features an access road shortly after the finish line that is used as the first corner of the Club Circuit layout. Simply driving a few feet away from an AI car while approacing the access road, the AI driver will panic and swerve off the track, taking turn one of the club circuit before stopping the car and retiring from the race. If you timed it right, you could theoretically use this exploit to destroy all AI cars in the race without even making contact; a new frontier for trolling. Getting the timing right would be the hard part. It’s as simple as going side-by-side on a certain part of the track.
The sad reality is that I could boot up a fully-priced retail game with several pieces of premium DLC, and within minutes have a FRAPS folder full of screenshots depicting blatant AI issues that would have been outright unacceptable only a handful of years ago. To make matters worse, voicing these very legitimate concerns in the wrong parts of the sim community would cause others to brand you a troll with a vendetta against Kunos Simulazioni, simply for pointing out their game didn’t work as advertised.
I think it’s crazy that the AI is so broken, merely adjusting a slider Kunos themselves told us to adjust, or driving beside another computer opponent, is enough to bring the game to its knees. I think it also speaks miles about the people playing this game to begin with. As the AI bugs are exposed on a widespread scale only when track grip is adjusted, those who haven’t come across these bugs have essentially admitted to playing the game on the easiest of settings. This is pretty hilarious given how sim racers use titles like Assetto Corsa as a badge of honor, believing it makes them “above” the dedicated Forza guys.