There must have been a point for UK-based Evolution Studios when it wished the first rule of DriveClub was that you do not talk about DriveClub.
One of the first games announced for PS4, DriveClub was part-MMO, part-traditional racer that promised to change the way people interact with driving games.
Fast-forward to E3 2013 and voices of discontent could be heard. It was being unfavourably compared to all those other new racers that were coming to market.
It was supposed to be a PS4 launch title, but it was pushed back six months. Six months later, it still wasn’t ready. Then its games director departed the project. DriveClub looked to have crashed at the first hurdle.
But now it appears Evolution has pulled off a comeback of Lewis Hamilton proportions (if you’ve been watching F1 this season, you’ll get that). DriveClub is not only ready for the track – it’s looking good.
“We all put so much effort in trying to get the game out on time, and then when it didn’t, it is hard to get back up and motivated again,” says DriveClub’s director Paul Rustchynsky.
“But we are in a really good place now. At E3 people came away saying: ‘this is so much better than it was last year.’ E3 was the moment we got back on track.”
DriveClub was delayed in order to get its advanced social features just right. But the firm has also used the time to add more tracks, cars, tighten the physics, improve the difficulty curve and more.
It’s certainly looking good. But the key differentiators are those aforementioned social features. DriveClub lets players interact with one another by more than just racing, but by sending challenges and starting clubs. It’s the sort of connected gaming that’s become somewhat of a trend in the industry.
"As an industry we are coming up with new and
exciting ways to connect players."
Paul Rustchynsky, Evolution Studios
“It’s even happening in quite hardcore games like Dark Souls, where players invaded your world. Or Watch Dogs, where somebody just jumps into your game and you have to react to that,” says Rustchynsky.
“Whereas with the last generation it was all pretty much competitive multiplayer, with you shooting or racing against someone. As an industry we are coming up with new and exciting ways to connect players.”
As a first party PS4 game, DriveClub is understandably receiving plenty of attention. Sony is pushing this title hard during Q4. There is even a free version – which includes every gameplay mode, but limits the number
of cars and tracks for PS Plus members.
Yet even after a positive E3 (and it did look good), it won’t be an easy ride for DriveClub. There are a number of unique new racers coming to stores this Q4, namely Project CARS and The Crew.
“It is a good thing for the genre that racing is back on the radar,” says Rustchynsky.
“We’re looking at other people’s games and that pushes us harder, because we want to be the best. Everyone is quite unique as well, so I don’t think we are cannibalising each other’s sales.
“This Christmas is going to be a crazy time for driving games.”