Marketing hype can only take you so far.
That is the unfortunate lesson the folks over at Kunos Simulazioni have been learning over the past 48 hours, as the highly anticipated Version 1.5 patch for soon-to-be muti-platform racing sim Assetto Corsa has failed to impress. Succeeding at whipping the fanboys into a frenzy thanks to three separate developer diaries outlining the changes in Version 1.5 of the software, the actual release of the update yielded another launch day disaster for the Italian developer, one which ultimately did not live up to any of the advertised changes.
When we’re discussing the future of the title and possibly even franchise as a whole, this was an update Kunos really needed to nail, as this will be the last major change Assetto Corsa receives prior to the game being pushed on the unsuspecting console masses – a group of users expecting a polished product comparable to the Forza or Gran Turismo series. What Assetto Corsa looks and plays like today with the Version 1.5 patch is very close to how both the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions of the titles will function when gracing the shelves of Wal-Mart or Best Buy later this year. Now throughout the weeks leading up to the release of this update, Kunos had supposedly been hard at work behind the scenes, and published many long-winded blog posts outlining a much more polished experience for all to enjoy.
Yet within minutes of the update going live, a bug was discovered which saw the player’s car fall through the map at Spa-Francorchamps.
This bug was quickly rectified. Others, however, were not. Version 1.5 of Assetto Corsa, judging by message board discussions alone, was uploaded to Valve’s servers in a state that indicated this mammoth title update received little to no quality assurance testing. We here at PRC.net are well aware that the community members in charge of beta testing new builds of Assetto Corsa are the typical yes men who are simply happy to say they have a video game developer on their Skype contacts list, but rarely is this lack of competence displayed in such a public manner. Last year we ripped on Project CARS quite heavily for shipping a game in such a dismal state, but with what we’re seeing from Kunos Simulazioni, it’s time to do the same for the red corner – figuratively and literally.
Scrolling through the various sub-sections on the official forums dedicated to reporting flaws in the software, this is not a pretty sight. Tracks don’t load, the executable itself crashes quite frequently, and there are many discussions regarding the game’s ever-evolving tire model.
YouTube personality GamerMuscleVideos has left a rather scathing list of negative aspects over in the comments section at VirtualR.net, indicating what many hardcore sim racers have feared in regards to Assetto Corsa has indeed come true. The game’s physics, once praised by our boy Sev for being the most authentic handling model available for your personal computer, have been significantly simplified to prevent the console audience from becoming frustrated with the title. This was something confirmed to PRC.net affiliated individuals by a well-known community beta participant many months ago, and now that Version 1.5 is finally in the hands of the public, sim racers are waking up to the fact that we weren’t fear-mongering for clicks. We told you so.
Of course, it’s more than just the tire model that’s seen a reduction in quality. Kunos Simulazioni promised a much more competent artificial intelligence in Version 1.5, yet problems previously not experienced before are now popping up. An individual trying to run an offline race with a field full of Ruf’s at the Nordschleife ran into a problem where the AI literally didn’t move off of the starting line, rendering the entire race unplayable and descending dangerously into Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing territory. The Assetto Corsa fanboys will obviously have the patience to wait something like this out until it’s fixed, but your average Playstation 4 or Xbox One owner will promptly run to Reddit and create a shitstorm in a place where the sim racing community can’t downvote him and claim he has an irrational vendetta against the game.
The AI issues also extend to the game’s newest track, the fictional Black Cat County location based on American highways in Nevada and Arizona. This particular forum user claims that a jump featured in the long layout of the track causes the AI to crash and retire when racing in the new Chevrolet Corvette C7, while another user claims Career Mode events still suffer from a bug where AI cars will intentionally pull into the pits prematurely. Again, these are bugs that really shouldn’t be here given how long Assetto Corsa has been in a released state, how much DLC is available, and how close we are to the large-scale console release backed by 505 Games.
There are many diehard Assetto Corsa players among us, and I expect several of them to raid the comment section below claiming I have no right to publish an article regarding the state of Version 1.5, as I personally haven’t had the game installed in a couple of months. Now I think it’s 100% fair game to make those comments, but I‘d like to turn around and ask those individuals a question instead: Why should I have this title installed?
YouTube personalities are claiming there has been a tangible reduction in the fidelity of the tire model, which is pretty much the last thing any hardcore sim racer like myself wants to hear. Many users are reporting that the software is crashing, and it’s genuinely difficult to monitor the various glitch forums in an effort to log just how many aspects of Version 1.5 are fucked up. Lastly, there are still major problems with the game’s offline artificial intelligence; something Kunos promised would be rectified for both yesterday’s patch, as well as the upcoming console release, yet it’s somehow gotten even worse.
For a supposedly finished racing simulator preparing for a major console release, their official forums currently read as if the game is still deep in Steam’s Early Access program. This whole situation is only made worse by the fact that Kunos are constantly boasting about their upcoming content licenses and DLC plans, indicating the team from Italy truly don’t care about crafting Assetto Corsa into an enjoyable experience. With the past 48 hours offering little to no genuine improvements, and only a few months until the game arrives on next-generation consoles, I struggle to see how anyone can have any faith in Assetto Corsa.