NASCAR 21: Ignition released last week to some… well, mixed reviews. While we’ve given our thoughts and provided a few tips and tricks to those still sticking with it, we’re back again today with another guide, this one focusing on the Career Mode. Between Career, Single Player and the Paint Booth, most racing offline will likely gravitate to the main campaign.
The premise is that your character, whatever you decide to name them, is an up-and-coming driver from one of the lower series that’s not in the game. NASCAR 21: Ignition solely has the NASCAR Cup Series. The NASCAR 21: Ignition career story line picks you up entering the pinnacle of the sport.
You’ll sign with as many teams as it takes, compete in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule over and over, and work to build up your Legacy Score. The majority of any Achievements or Trophies will come in winning races in this mode, signing contracts, and ultimately becoming the NASCAR Cup Series champion over and over and over.
NASCAR 21: Ignition Career – Contracts
The first thing that you will do is sign a contract with one of the official NASCAR teams and take over one of their cars. It is meant to be realistic with pay-out and contract structure.
When you start off, you are given a number of contracts to look over and choose from. In the Champion’s Edition, they will all be full-season contracts despite what is offered. In the regular edition of the game, some contracts from lower end teams will be part-time rides. Goals will need to be met to either continue with the team or get better offers.
The Champion’s Edition of the game will also yield a career boost. That allows players to start on any team at the beginning of their career with a full season contract. Different teams will pay-out better than others, and there are meant to be more competitive rides out there as well. As I haven’t lost a championship yet on the Veteran difficulty, I’m not entirely sure that it makes a difference what car you wind up in.
Lower end teams won’t require huge goals, but you’ll want to check and see how you stack up with other teams as far as reputation is concerned. A higher reputation will not only mean you’re more likely to earn a contract with that team, but also that means that negotiations with said teams could be easier moving forward.
Once a season is in the books, a few things will happen. The points will reset, for one, and some drivers may retire, giving way for up-and-coming drivers that have been put into the game files to take over those rides. For example, Ryan Newman retired in my first season, allowing for Tanner Gray to take over the No. 6 for Roush Fenway Racing.
NASCAR 21: Ignition Career – Race Weekends
Every race in the career will be set to a practice, qualifying, and a race. There are a few exceptions, and no, Daytona 500 weekend is not one of them, there are no duel races. You can opt to simulate every session, including the race, and the game will award you a random finish in that session. If races are simulated, stage points and the coinciding playoff points are also awarded.
Practice is there for an hour and meant to allow players to learn the track and dial in which of the five preset setups that they’ll run in qualifying and the race. Qualifying is usually either a single lap or a two-lap time trial to set the field. The race will be the distance that you set before hand, either 2%, 5%, 15%, 25%, 50% or 100%. Unfortunately, there are no stages implemented correctly if you choose to race. However, if you were to simulate the entire season, you would see the proper points pay-out.
Some cool, specific additions
For Road Courses, the two round qualifying exists. The Top 12 advance to the second round and then the pole is awarded from there. It is also open qualifying, which means you can run into other drivers during this session.
Now, a weird glitch I’ve run into with Road Courses in particular is that the game will give you the pole position no matter what if you choose to simulate qualifying. Not sure if that’s something that will be worked on for the future, but it does exist at the moment.
Specifically for the Pocono Doubleheader weekend, the game considers the Top 20 invert for the second race based on the first race’s results. That’s a fantastic nod to the real-world. If that can be added in with no problem, why can’t the Duels at Daytona?
Anyway, there are goals based on qualifying and race performance for each contract. If you want to meet those goals, you’ll likely need to participate in the sessions themselves.
If that doesn’t matter, and you only want to race specific races, you can simulate any event on the calendar. When you go to the calendar, you can hit the specified button to advance the schedule. On that specific date, you can simulate the practice, qualifying or race. However, simulating an entire season will likely not get you in to the playoffs, let alone win you the title.
NASCAR 21: Ignition Career – Legacy Score
The main goal in the career is to grow your legacy score. Different accomplishments, like a race win, a pole, or even a championship will add to that score. Other drivers are ranked with a legacy score based on their stats entering the 2021 season. They too will earn legacy points alongside you.
A better legacy score, combined with a good reputation with a team, and the ability to meet goals will allow users to sign with teams more easily. There are also Trophies or Achievements to unlock by earning a certain legacy score.
There is also earned money, which comes from performing well in races and earning it from completed contracts. Money really does nothing but add to the legacy score. While it is probably easier to earn a higher legacy score with a better deal, all that really matters for is earning the “Hall of Famer” Trophy or Achievement. All you need to do is just earn more than 4,500 legacy points in your overall career.
How Playoffs work (for now) in NASCAR 21: Ignition career
Two facets of the NASCAR playoffs, the actual structure and stage racing, are both awry. Stepping into stage racing first, the mechanic exists in the game, but you never get to experience it in a race. When you simulate a race weekend, stage points and playoff points for winning stages are properly awarded.
As far as the playoffs are concerned, I haven’t gotten the Round of 16 to properly work yet. That is, if you choose to race all of the races. After the 26th race, the points are meant to reset based on the playoff points accumulated in the regular season for the 16 drivers qualified for the playoffs.
When I get to the 27th race, it forgets the playoffs exist, erases all of the playoff points anyone achieved, and reverts to a non-playoff points structure for three races. That’s with participating in the Daytona Regular Season finale, specifically.
When the Round of 12 starts, however, the playoffs are back, but incorrect. You see, it takes the current Top 12 in points, no matter if you have a win or not (which was an old NASCAR playoff system, by the way) and sets the points equally. Playoff points never come back, and you need to start earning them once again. After that, it seemingly works the way it was meant to.
Now, I did simulate a good chunk of a separate season, including the 26th race specifically, and at that point, the playoffs were set correctly and the Trophy/Achievement for making the playoffs was awarded correctly. Hopefully this is updated to all work properly at all times sooner rather than later.
While the latest NASCAR game is currently in an unfinished state, even at the time of release, it’s hoped that the game will eventually add in the missing parts and pieces. Things like stage racing and a fully functioning playoff format would be nice to see before too long.
Over three devices, I’ve managed to win eight championships already. It’s somewhat of a hack, but I set race lengths to 2%, and simulated race weekends that I didn’t want to do. I also had the difficulty set to veteran, because racing for last isn’t fun to me. Some might want a longer experience and might opt to do longer percentage races. Some might prefer a harder difficulty. By all means, there are different ways to enjoy the career, so do what you like.
At this juncture, NASCAR 21: Ignition can be what you make of it. For me, it’s been a fun time stacking titles and earning trophies. Still, it’s far from a finished product, and can be quite lacking of features in comparison to previous Heat games. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for additions as the game development continues to progress.
If you’ve picked up NASCAR 21: Ignition on PC, PS4 or Xbox One, check out our beginner’s guide before you jump in. Full disclosure – Traxion.GG is part of Motorsport Games and the Motorsport Games family of brands. All Traxion.GG content is editorially removed from Motorsport Games video game development and created by a dedicated team.