[E3 2013] I Feel The Need, The Need For Driving

We took on all comers (and lost) in Sony's Driveclub.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: June 12, 2013
There really is no better way to check out a racing game other than in a super comfy racing seat. Well, I suppose a high-end force-feedback steering wheel wouldn't be bad either, but that is really just wishful thinking. Sony had set up eight of those sweet seats at E3 to let attendees check out their launch racing title Driveclub (not to be confused with the early Jaguar game Club Drive. As I settled into my seat and grasped the controller that was still warm and a bit sweaty from the last guy I started getting excited (and a little grossed out).

Before I got to get my drive on my picture was snapped from an attached PSEye4 (I made that name up) so my rivals in the room would be able to see me laughing at them every time I crushed them. Then it was off to select a car and next thing you knew I was dropped into a race.

Actually, race might not be the best word. Sure, there seemed to be lap times and checkpoints and all that standard stuff, but my opponents were mostly already zipping around by the time I got going. And there wasn't any sort of "start" line or anything, I just was GOING. It also turned out that the eight stations were split into two "clubs" that were in an ongoing battle for supremacy.

So as I whizzed around, I occasionally saw the ghost of another racer come from behind, or, more rarely, appear ahead of me as I passed them. And while we weren't competing side by side, every minute or so there would be a section of track that was defined as a "drift challenge" or "speed challenge" or "cornering challenge" and my score/speed/time in those zones would be directly compared to one of my rivals from the other club. It was a neat way to have an opponent without having to worry about finding matchups and waiting for servers to sync.

As for the feel of the driving? It falls squarely between casual arcade racer and realistic simulator. You certainly can't barrel into a corner and expect to bounce off the wall and keep on trucking, and if you hit the brakes too hard in a turn and the backend will get really loose on you. On the flip side, if you DO careen into a wall you aren't going to be useless for the rest of the race because I didn't see any sort of damage modeling.

I only had a total of maybe 5 minutes of racing, but even in that short burst I found myself pretty impressed with what I was seeing from Driveclub. It's important to note that this was a pre-alpha build that clearly stated it was 35% complete so I'm sure there is plenty of real racing in the final product and I can't even guarantee there will be anything like the mode I played when the game hits at PS4 launch. What we saw today though makes us quite optimistic for the final product. Remember PlayStation Plus subscribers, a version of the game will be FREE for you when the system arrives! Awesome.