Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown is an open-world driving video game where winning races, tuning cars and earning enough to purchase new vehicles is the main goal.
Set on Hong Kong Island, built to a 1:1 scale, your lifestyle will also play a role. The city is split into regions, there will be rival street racing groups, day-to-night cycles and some form of casino, or car-gambling, mechanic.
There are two clans in Solar Crown:
- The Streets
- The Sharps
As a player, you’ll be able to sect to be a member of either, building your way through the ranks. Each clan’s HQ is a place to celebrate victories, but also pick up new missions to progress your career in a VIP area.
The game’s online functionality will mean being able to meet other players on the road to race against, or beat leaderboard times, but also in dealerships and garages browsing what’s for sale.
Ah yes, showrooms – a huge part of the appeal within the erstwhile Test Drive Unlimited games, will return, alongside trying to find wrecked cars to restore.
Development team, game engine and series history
Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown will be developed by Kylotonn, a French studio with two main offices: Paris and Lyon.
It has previously created the official World Rally Championship games for over eight years, with 2022’s WRC Generations being its final entry, alongside two Isle of Man TT titles and reboots for both V-Rally and FlatOut.
Previous KT Racing driving games
- Truck Racer (2013)
- Motorcycle Club (2014)
- WRC 5 (2015)
- WRC 6 (2016)
- FlatOut 4: Total Insanity (2017)
- WRC 7 (2017)
- TT Isle of Man : Ride on the Edge (2018)
- V-Rally 4 (2018)
- WRC 8 (2019)
- TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 2 (2020)
- WRC 9 (2020)
- WRC 10 (2021)
- WRC Generations (2022)
It will use Kylotonn’s proprietary KT Engine technology, which underpinned the most recent WRC games.
The game’s lead, Alain Jarniou, has pedigree with the series, having worked on Test Drive Unlimited and Unlimited 2. For the latter, as Game Director, no less when it was being created by Eden Games.
“We use our own engine, the KT Engine, for our games and in fact, both WRC Generations and Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown are using the same engine,” said Alain Jarniou to Traxion.GG last year.
“Things we do for WRC will be helpful for Test Drive Unlimited.
“Some technology that we made for Test Drive Unlimited is in WRC Generations, for example, the shaders of the car paints.
“All the projects work together. We have been working on Test Drive Unlimited for years, people that are working on WRC Generations will come to help the team of TDU, of course.”
Speaking of which, Solar Crown will be the third Test Drive Unlimited game, and also the 21st Test Drive game.
You see, the name ‘Test Drive’ has been slapped on any old racing game over the years. Initially a 1987 linear road-driving game for the Amiga, over the decades it simply became a moniker placed on various titles within different regions.
In 2000, the official game of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was supposedly part of the ‘Test Drive’ series when sold in North America. That same year, V-Rally 2 – yup, it was sold in the US with a ‘Test Drive’ preface on the Dreamcast.
Even Ian Bell’s Slightly Mad Studios released – an underrated – Ferrari-themed spin-off in 2012.
With Solar Crown, it’s worth remembering that it’s not a successor to any of the aforementioned games really, but a direct sequel to the open-world ‘Unlimited’ games only:
- Test Drive Unlimited (2006 – PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360)
- Test Drive Unlimited 2 (2011 – PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
The game will include a suite of cars from the real-world, and not just sportscars but pick-ups and SUVs too.
Parts of the HKI environment feature off-road trails, so your McLaren or Porsche 911 may not be best suited. Switching to a Ford F-150 Raptor or a modified Volkswagen Beetle may be better in some scenarios
We’ve compiled a list of all the cars revealed so far, but as a taster, there are the contemporary hypercars such as the Porsche 918 Spyder, classic Ford Mustangs and even some 00s cars from the earlier Unlimited titles such as the Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG. An eclectic mix, with a nod to its lineage.
Think Manny Khoshbin’s collection, but in a virtual sense.
There will also be customisation options too, for both speed and aesthetics. In total, there are 13 performance part types available for each car across six categories for combustion-powered cars. There will also be electric cars, models to be confirmed, with 12 customisable performance part types.
A key component of a Test Drive Unlimited Game, interactive showrooms return for Solar Crown. In prior games, you had to explore the environment, discovering new dealerships and thus unlocking the ability to purchase new cars.
Much like the previous titles, in the upcoming game, you will be able to walk around a showroom – one of 14 – and look at the metal up close. From there, you will be able to select a colour for the exterior and interior plus take it for a brief test drive before purchase.
Modifications, however, are undertaken in workshops, and include a livery editor where metallic, matte, pearlescent and chrome paint can be selected alongside a selection of stickers and decals.
There will be over 600km / 370 miles of roads, both asphalt and dirt, on Hong Kong Island to explore. While the environment is 1:1 in scale, some of the dirt trails and side streets have been widened for the gaming experience.
Much like the 14 showrooms, there will be 14 distinct regions within HKI. Dynamic time of day and weather will aim to make it feel lifelike.
Release date, platforms and editions
Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown will release in 2023, although the exact date has yet to be announced. It was originally scheduled for a 2022 launch.
It will be coming to the following platforms:
- PlayStation 5
- Xbox Series X|S
- Nintendo Switch
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, however, were cancelled in order to “maximise the overall quality of the game.”
A Beta was expected and announced in May 2022, although further details have yet to surface.