They’ve had an entire summer to get it ready, and in just a few short days, Assetto Corsa will finally launch simultaneously on both Microsoft’s Xbox One, as well as Sony’s PlayStation 4. It’s been quite a bumpy ride for the staff at Kunos Simulazioni, embarking on a console porting process full of hiccups and other miscellaneous troubles – some of which required an entire graphics engine re-write – but nevertheless, hardcore auto racing fans stuck with one of the two most prominent next generation gaming consoles will finally have an alternative to the shoddy Project CARS, underwhelming DriveClub, or casual-oriented Forza Motorsport. Assetto Corsa will be unleashed into the wild on August 26th or August 30th depending on the hemisphere of the globe you currently reside in.
With a little downtime on his hands after the product recently entered Gold status, Marco Massarutto of Kunos Simulazioni has chosen to directly confront arguably the biggest concern some Assetto Corsa fans have had with the direction of the title, as the Italian racing simulator has quickly evolved from a humble driving simulator on Steam to a multi-platform cult phenomenon. And this is kind of a big deal that a Kunos employee is speaking on the matter in such a detailed fashion. When it was first announced that Kunos Simulazioni had struck a deal with publisher 505 Games to bring Assetto Corsa to an entirely new audience, many believed that the title would be Forzafied in an effort to accommodate a set of gamers who weren’t quite ready for a hardcore racing simulator. Some were concerned that the handling model or individual car physics would be subtly simplified as a precaution to prevent new drivers from quickly growing frustrated with the experience, and we personally received info around this time last year that the team had been making concessions with certain historical cars (such as the Lamborghini Muira and RUF CTR Yellowbird) to improve their overall stability.
Marco has officially put those concerns to rest in a lengthy Facebook post, which you can view HERE, though we’ll also throw it up below for those who actively refuse to partake in the festivities of modern social media platforms. As English isn’t his primary language, I’ll do my best to clean up the grammar.
I’d just like to post some thoughts of mine, and answer a few of the theories I’ve read on various message boards about the launch of Assetto Corsa on consoles, the future of Assetto Corsa, and the never-ending questions of if we’re going to simplify the handling model to appeal to a larger audience that comes with a console release
Usually I’m not bored enough to read the hundreds of threads asking the exact same questions about our game, as I understand that a lot of people are hearing about Assetto Corsa for the first time each and every day. But when the same people are asking the same questions, or they continue to bring up the same topics of discussion, sometimes it can be boring. Especially because no one needs to take our word for it, the game will be out soon enough, and you will see we haven’t changed anything when you’re physically playing the console version.
Will the Console Version of Assetto Corsa be simplified?
Since the beginning of this year, a lot of YouTube users have been uploading footage of the console version, and they’ve always played it using a steering wheel. We demonstrated our game during the European gaming convention tour, as well as during the Vallelunga event last May, and it’s always been the same response from both players and journalists: “it feels like the PC version”.
What is the most talked about and appreciated characteristic of Assetto Corsa? It’s car handling, and the raw feeling of driving. What’s the primary reason as to why console gamers may decide to play Assetto Corsa, rather than Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo? The number of cars? The graphics? Nope. I would say the fidelity of the simulation, the unique handling, the laser-scanned tracks, and the depth of which a PC simulation can perform. If we subtract these elements, Assetto Corsa can’t compete with the other titles, because it couldn’t offer something more in terms of game modes and features.
So with that out of the way, I’d like to confront a rather annoying question we sometimes receive: Now that Assetto Corsa is ready for release on consoles, is going Kunos to simplify the PC version?
The console version of Assetto Corsa was officially announced in mid 2015, but our team started to work on it in late 2014. Since then, the PC version has been constantly improved, updated, expanded with 7 major builds, several new tire models (now we are at version 10 – TEN) adding features asked from SIM racers, and now we are going to release the Version 1.8 on August 26th to coincide with the console release. The popularity of AC on PC is the highest it’s ever been, it’s often in the top charts on Steam. People love the game and enjoy it everyday, and they support us each time we release new features and content. Please give me a logical reason why we should change this, after over a year of HUGE development on the PC version after the initial 1.0 release. Simply put, there is no reason why we should do this. So, ask yourself: In the last 18 months, strictly talking about the PC version, did we convert Assetto Corsa into a simcade driving game, or did we give it even more depth?
We decided to bring Assetto Corsa out on consoles to answer our own question: Is there any room the on console market for a simulation like Assetto Corsa?
Asa company in the business of developing racing simulators, we have to know the answer to this question. And we’ll know it soon. The only way to answer this question, is to bring on console the same experience people appreciate so much on PC, to the best of our ability. Period. So keep calm, don’t worry. The only way we can change the soul of our most successful creation is to make it even stronger. And you know why Assetto Corsa will feature officially licensed Porsche cars before any other racing simulator out there? Because Porsche has chosen Assetto Corsa for its applications, due to the quality of the overall package: graphics-physics-care of details-handling -track accuracy. So, there’s no way for us to change our DNA.
Again, I edited Marco’s grammar a bit to ensure the writing sounded a bit more natural.
I’m sure a lot of people will expect me to launch into full-on attack mode as I traditionally do with a lot of Reader Submission-like entries, but in this case I don’t really feel the need to. We know that concessions have been made with Assetto Corsa behind the scenes, however they are primarily tied to specific cars of the historic variety. I might have to go back and look at some of my old posts from last fall when we began talking about this on a regular basis, but it’s really small and specific stuff – an increase in braking efficiency here, a bit more grip there, and individual car physics choices that remained on the side of caution to minimize end user frustration. If a car didn’t handle all that well with the data supplied by the manufacturer, or an older car was beyond the capabilities of most moderate sim racers, minor adjustments were made to that specific car – not the entire handling model. However, I will say that a title approaching ten different tire models and almost treating it as an accomplishment, isn’t exactly something to be proud of.
Unless that’s done specifically to expand the dongs of hardcore sim junkies who have fully bought into the iRacing style of New ____ Model buzzwords. If so, kudos to Kunos for that strategy. It seems to have worked.
So the ultimate hardcore racing simulator it most certainly isn’t, but compared to something like Gran Turismo 6, where entire groups of cars have been half-assed by Polyphony Digitial, Assetto Corsa sits somewhere in the middle. I will let you explore your own personal needs from a simulator to determine how you feel about this while moving to an entirely different topic.
I personally believe Assetto Corsa fans have every right to question how the console release could impact the Steam version of the title, and the above image is a pretty solid tangible example as to why. Vehicles introduced to the PC version of Assetto Corsa as free updates given to all owners of the game have now been locked away into a separate pre-order bonus pack for console users. This right here is pretty shitty, and had the same situation occurred with a rival game like Project CARS – PC owners forced to pay extra for cars found in the vanilla console version – message boards would be set ablaze by angry customers. It’s not like Assetto Corsa has been in Early Access for the past three years, and the entire userbase knew full well that Kunos would take out some content seen in WIP builds, only to release it later as part of a Season Pass program. Nope, Steam-based Assetto Corsa owners can fire up their retail game right now and rip around in the 2015 Ford Mustang or Audi R8 V10 Plus at no extra charge, but those who plan on purchasing the game for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One will have to shell out a little bit more.
If stuff as basic as the immediate availability of certain cars has changed from platform to platform, it’s really not a stretch to question what else has been tweaked that we aren’t aware of.
So on that note, let’s talk about the new and improved user interface that PC owners won’t receive – and this has been confirmed by Kunos=. While the PC version of Assetto Corsa features a basic, rudimentary in-game heads up display, along with a laggy front end which has seen much better days, the console version of the title will ship with an exclusive, totally re-designed interface. The whole thing looks beautiful and truly captures the kind of atmosphere Kunos are trying to present with their selection of exotic cars and world-class locations, yet PC users will never receive this. After three years of helping grow Assetto Corsa into a sim racing powerhouse, they have been told the unfinished placeholder graphics are the most they’re ever gonna get, and the fancy stuff has been reserved for the console masses.
Again, if something as rudimentary as the heads up display varies wildly from one platform to the next, it’s not exactly a wild conspiracy theory to speculate how much has changed under the hood as well. And now that our boy Los Santos Sheriff has uploaded a video detailing six elements of Assetto Corsa that have been improved in the console version compared to the Steam release, we can conclude that the console version really isn’t the identical product Kunos would like us to believe.
For those strapped for time, you’ll want to skip ahead to the 2:35 mark in the video I’ve linked. Sheriff mentions that the multiplayer component has been totally rebuilt from the ground up, specifically for the console versions of Assetto Corsa. Now, in most racing simulators, this wouldn’t be an issue that would warrant much discussion – the console audience is obviously much different than the hardcore PC sim crowd, and they have an entirely separate set of needs required to be me. However, the Steam version of Assetto Corsa has routinely been roasted by both leagues and casual players for it’\s lack of user friendliness. The booking system simply did not catch on in the way Kunos intended, the server browser was polluted with inactive rooms, creating a session just to run laps with your friends had to be done through an external program that didn’t always work, an abundance of DLC strategically splitting cars from popular classes across multiple packs segregated the community, you could be locked out of picking the car you truly wanted to drive, and you couldn’t even select your livery. Sheriff notes the console version has abandoned the awful online component of the PC version altogether in favor of a traditional peer-to-peer gaming experience, though obviously this will ruffle some feathers.
After years spent complaining about Assetto Corsa’s online component in the Steam version of the title, PC sim racers will still be complaining; their suggestions on how to improve certain online elements will be implemented into a version of the game other than the one they currently own. Please explain to me how this makes any fucking sense and isn’t a giant middle finger to the community, and for a third time, if an entire half of the game has been re-built from the ground up, is it really a stretch to speculate in regards to changes that may have been made under the hood as well?
It’s now the point in the article where I’m supposed to summarize my feelings, and in this case, it’s pretty easy to do so. For the most part, I believe Marco when he says that Assetto Corsa as it appears on next-generation consoles is fundamentally the same game as the one many of you have been playing since the final portion of 2013. It would indeed be a pain in the ass for them to have a console-specific tire model just to appeal to a casual audience who will probably put the game down in a week anyway. The changes we’ve been told about under the hood have nothing to do with appealing to the new audience, but rather increasing the overall stability of some cars in general whom either desperately needed it, or have been altered at the request of a manufacturer due to their lackluster performance with real-world data. As I’ve said earlier, how you feel about that kind of subtle tampering is up to your own personal expectations of Assetto Corsa. In my eyes, “McLaren bitched at us to make the MP4-12C less of a shitbox, so we did” isn’t fully living up to the simulator tagline, but others will cut them some slack given how difficult these licenses are to obtain in the first place.
However, in some aspects, Assetto Corsa on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 clearly isn’t the same game as the PC version you’ve got installed on your hard drive. The new graphics engine probably won’t be noticeable, but the rebuilt online component, restructuring of the car roster, and brand new interface are much more than just simple cosmetic changes. I personally believe the discrepancy between the numerous versions is kind of a dick move to the longtime fans of Assetto Corsa who have stuck through the growing pains of the title dating all the way back to 2013. These guys, for lack of a better word, built the game into what it is today.
They were the ones spending hundreds of hours driving the shit out of all 90+ cars, creating third party mods that were eventually implemented as official DLC, talking about the game online and spreading the word to areas which would usually pass over it in favor of another franchise, writing fuckhuge guides fueled by their sheer love of the game, and coding applications to help improve the shoddy online component… and they’re rewarded with the developers building a definitive version of Assetto Corsa for an entirely different group of people that will bitch, moan, and drop the sim in a week because you can’t buy cars, the career mode is basically that of a mobile game, and there’s no livery editor.
That’s kind of shitty.