It appears as if there’s a bit of a PRC Curse floating around the world of sim racing. After praising Stock Car Extreme and trying to host our own league with the generic V8 Supercar Reiza Studios had built for their customers as a free piece of bonus content, the team had their newest title taken off of the Steam Marketplace for a short time due to skirting dangerously close to the official Formula One brand. Upon partnering with Race2Play as our lone official sponsor and publishing an article stating the financial status of the company – including revealing a potential deal which would have seen them pocket a six-figure paycheck from SimRaceway – the online racing hub is instead set to close up shop at the end of the 2016 year. We deemed DiRT Rally our Game of the Year for 2015, but afterwards discovered a set of physics oddities that essentially let you fling your WRC-spec Fiesta around each of the game’s twelve stages with reckless abandon; highly against the spirit of a hardcore racing simulator. And now, the curse has affected Formula One 2016, a game I singled out as the benchmark for the future of racing simulators.
There’s a lot to like about Formula One 2016, so I’ll spare you the details of the full quasi-review published earlier this year and offer a brief summary: the game Formula One fans had been wishing Codemasters could ship since they acquired the license in 2009, finally materialized. It’s not the most accurate simulator, but it damn well gets the job done, and surrounds the core driving model with an impressive career mode that’s much more than just progressing through the current F1 schedule, season after season.
But today’s Reader Submission blows everything wide open. There are fundamental problems with how tire wear is calculated by the EGO Engine powering the Codemasters F1 series, an exploit so horrendous it’s basically broken the competitive element of the game – and Codemasters haven’t addressed the community at all for months.
Hey PRC, I’ve sent in a few submissions about F1 2016 before, and again I want to stay anonymous because of how controversial this glitch is. I’d prefer if people didn’t know I cheated my way to a bunch of wins thanks to an exploit Codemasters seem to have no intentions of patching.
Basically, there is a game-breaking glitch in F1 2016 first discovered by the community in mid-October, and the glitch revolves around a major part of the racing strategy in modern Formula One – tire wear. People have found that the tire wear in Formula One 2016 is determined by the compound you’re starting the race on. If you start on the softest available compound, your tire wear will be through the roof – almost impossible to adequately manage – but if you begin the race on the hardest compound you’re allowed to select from for that particular event, every single tire at your disposal will hardly wear, and you can more or less push at maximum attack for the duration of the race.
What this means is that in league racing, all drivers who start outside the top ten and receive the free tire choice, as per F1 rules, are favorites to win the race, because they can pit one or even two stops less than the front runners, whom are forced to start on the softer compounds. This glitch completely ruins every competitive league in F1 2016, and the fact that Codemasters haven’t bothered to do anything against it in over two months demonstrates that their promise of taking a different approach to F1 games and listening to the community has gone out the window.
The thread discussing this problem on the official forums is huge, with almost everybody agreeing that it is indeed a major issue that desperately needs to be patched, and many are reporting it has already affected the outcome of their private leagues. You simply cannot play this game competitively anymore. One of the top F1 2016 players on the Xbox One platform, Seiyariu, has created a nice video to demonstrate all of this stuff in action, and his accompanying description is a sign that Codemasters desperately need to intervene to save the F1 2016 community.
As a beta tester for Formula One 2016 myself, and someone who is really involved in the F1 community, I’m quite shocked to be honest. Codemasters rolled out seven patches for the PS4 version in quick succession, and really tackled the problems which would pop up each week just from people sinking so much time into the game and accidentally running into stuff. But for some reason, as you can see from the community manager’s post history, they’ve gone completely silent from October onward. I know that they’re most likely shifting the focus to F1 2017 behind the scenes, but this type of glitch turns a really solid racing game into a bad experience, because I cannot contend for a victory fairly on the highest possible level, knowing my online competitors have basically half the tire wear I’m subjected to.
I think the average player might not even notice this glitch, but if you race against some of the best players in the world via private leagues, and victories are stolen from you because someone exploited a flaw in the game to receive substantially less tire wear, then it’s a massive piss off.
Thanks for sending this in. I really like these kinds of pieces because they highlight just how passionate some sim racers are to be digging apart a game they otherwise love, and it also sheds light on some of the little tricks that top online racers use – which usually have little to do with the racing itself. I’m sure a lot of F1 2016 owners will be breathing a heavy sign of relief after getting raped in an online league and not being entirely sure why.
My assumptions about why this issue came to be, is that the EGO engine doesn’t natively support tire wear. Remember, when this new game engine first came about, Codemasters had been working on the original DiRT and GRID titles for the Xbox 360 – both of which were games light on simulation value, and instead looked to capitalize on the weird middle ground between Forza and Need for Speed, where people wanted the race cars found in Forza but couldn’t commit to any sort of serious physics engine. I don’t recall DiRT nor GRID featuring tire wear, as most of the races were designed to last around five minutes or so, leading to the theory that the concept of rubber degradation was tacked on after the fact for the F1 games, and they’ve re-written the coding for it every few iterations.
I’m not trying to make excuses for Codemasters, because for it to affect the results of a race in this fashion is exactly as you described it – game breaking – but it’s a starting point to explain how a bug so severe could manifest in the first place. Remember, even DiRT Rally – a so-called hardcore simulator – doesn’t have the ability to adjust tire pressures in the garage menu, or monitor tire wear in each service area; it’s grouped into the all-encompassing “wheels” category. So I’m under the impression that tire wear and the behavior of different compounds is something Codemasters injected into the EGO Engine they use for all their games, and they simply did it in a fashion that royally fucks up the online playing field.
So I guess you might not ever see a fix for this, but I do indeed advise you to continue pestering them on the official forums, because this is like, pretty fucking bad if people are running the exact same compounds, setups, and as close to a conservative driving style as they can, yet receiving drastically different tire readouts. I mean, people are banned from rFactor leagues for using third party ram hacks to accomplish what appears to be baked into F1 2016 by default, so hopefully Codemasters shows up and rectifies everything.