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WATCH: John’s racing game mid-year review

Earlier this year, I started a new video series called ‘John Tries New Things, testing out the latest and greatest things that racing games have to offer, whether that be brand new releases or DLC packs and updates for existing titles.

Last week I was at Spa – in the real world – and this week has been a quiet one for new racing game content, so I thought I would take stock. We are now midway through July so it feels like a good moment to look back and reflect on everything that has happened during the first half of 2022.

I will look at each of the games I have covered in the video series, as well as the games we have covered in general on the Traxion.GG YouTube channel, before looking at what is coming in the latter half of the year. 

GRID Legends 

This game was fun. I thought it was fun to play through, I even did so on the Traxion.GG channels through a series of livestreams and videos, and I like that it did not take itself too seriously. It was all over fairly quickly though, and nothing drew me back into the game until recently when we saw the first of four major DLC drops expected within the year.

Quite simply, there were too many other racing games for me that had a more intriguing long-term hook, and although the additional Demolition Derby story element was fun to play, it wasn’t enough on its own to convince me otherwise. A game we are, in general, fond of, but not in love with. 

Gran Turismo 7 

Gran Turismo 7 is a far more complex beast. We were all blown away initially by the sheer size of the game and the nostalgia-driven atmosphere. I even wrote a love letter about how special it was.

Not long after this, however, things went a little pear-shaped. Changes to the way credits were distributed created a flawed and controversial in-game economy, with it being nigh on impossible to obtain special cars without overpriced microtransactions.

Fundamental issues were exposed with the online system too. This is still an incredible title in all of the ways I discussed in my love letter, but its flaws leave big scars and some users deeply disappointed.

Thankfully, Polyphony Digital has been showering us with major updates, including new content and attempted fixes for many of the game’s biggest problems. I have still been enjoying my time with Gran Turismo 7 as you may well have witnessed, I still love it.

F1 22

Recently, we saw the latest Formula 1 game launch to continue the franchise’s annual tradition. For F1 22, EA is building on a solid foundation, yet somehow this seems to have lost some of its rigidity.

Through the cracks, you will find impressive new features such as VR support, and some superfluous ones, such as F1 Life and the inclusion of supercars.

But fundamentally, this game feels like it was not ready for launch, for PC at least. On a personal note, I struggled to get it to work properly across a number of machines during launch week, and this seems to be an unfortunate trend at the moment, with many publishers releasing games that did not feel ready come the release date. 

MotoGP 22 

Milestone’s MotoGP 22 is built well on its own lineage. Although fundamentally similar to its predecessor, tweaks to the bike’s characteristics and the addition of a VR 46 story mode created a pleasant change of scenery for bike fans. I loved playing through the opening of NINE during one of these episodes. It was, for me, the most engaging style of narrative-driven content so far this year. 

Other New Titles 

Other games such as Redout 2, Kartkraft and Monster Energy Supercross 5 were well-received additions to the 2022 racing game roster, whilst the likes of Chocobo GP and MX v ATV Legends leave much to be desired, sadly.

Regular Updates and New DLC

The opening episode of this new series was based on new Automobilista 2 content, which hardly comes as a surprise given just how good Reiza Studios are with updates. We have even had a force feedback and physics update this week, and when we are given new content to try, it is always a doozy.

I particularly loved my most recent open-wheel VR experiences, both in the CART Champ Cars and the 2022 Formula 1 Formula Ultimate Gen2 car.  

rFactor2 is another sim racing title with new content being released at a high pace. The new Indycar and Laguna Seca have been a lot of fun, but the highlight for me must be the BTCC cars and tracks. Throwing the Infiniti around Donington Park brought me a lot of pleasure, even when lapping on my own, so you can imagine the fun waiting to be had in a proper online race event.

Just recently I tried out the latest Assetto Corsa Competizione American Track pack, and despite the three included venues splitting opinions, nobody can deny the quality of these particular versions.

Watkins Glen is proving to be one of the most enjoyable circuits on the platform to race on, not forgetting that the previous Challengers DLC pack with Kunos also released four brand new cars. The highlight for me was the new Porsche cup car. Combine this with a race around Watkins and you are in for a treat.  

These are the standouts for me, but it’s always worth touching on the other stuff we have seen. 

iRacing continues to deliver new content every season, and this year we even saw some DLC appear for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Not a brand new game like many fans are after, but at least this will help tide us over in the meantime.

BeamNG.drive was quiet early on in 2022, but a recent major update was welcomed with a big hug, let alone open arms. This game remains in a fantastic place. Of course, there are other titles that I have not been keeping up with personally, but my Traxion.GG colleagues have. Regular updates and DLC packs have been appearing on the likes of Hot Wheels Unleashed, The Crew 2, American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator 2, as well as the plucky TrackDayR. I really need to revisit that sometime…  

New Updates on the Horizon 

It is about time then we stop looking in the mirror, and divert our attention to the metaphorical windscreen. What is coming up next? Well, first of all, it is a big one. 

Next week, we will finally see the launch of the first major Forza Horizon 5 DLC pack. Linking up with Hot Wheels (and not for the first time), this is a big moment for fans of the franchise, who have waited longer than usual for a major Horizon update.

Forza Horizon 5 Hot Wheels expansion orange track July 2022

A lot is riding on this but I hope it’s as good as what we have seen previously, and I can assure you will be covering this in detail on both the Traxion.GG YouTube channel and website.  

We know for sure that there will be at least three more GRID Legends DLC drops within a year, but the specifics are still to be confirmed. We also know that art of rally will be releasing a brand-new location, Indonesia, in the near future and iRacing is expected to finally release its hotly-anticipated wet weather system. Based on current patterns we can also expect to see regular Gran Turismo 7 updates, as well as rFactor2 and Automobilista 2 content drops. But what about brand new racing games? 

One of the most hotly anticipated amongst the Traxion.GG team, has to be F1 Manager 2022, which releases on the 30th of August. We have some big Frontier fans in our midst, and Tom was invited to try out a preview version last month. If you want to see how that went, make sure you check out our hands-on video.

One week later will see the release of the open world CarX Street, a multiplayer city-based racer that appears, on the face of it, to draw inspiration from the likes of Need for Speed, Juiced and Midnight Club.

WRC Generations also launches in late 2022 and is likely to be the final officially licensed world rally title from Kylotonn before that license switches to Codemasters and EA in 2023. This game is the natural successor of WRC 10 and will be the first to feature the latest generation of hybrid Rally1 cars.

Speaking of rally, we are still waiting to hear more on the current state of Dakar Desert Rally, the official Dakar game. The Twitter account still boasts of a 2022 release, however, we haven’t seen or heard any updates for a long time now, so expect something imminently?

One game we definitely have heard about recently is Stuntfest – World Tour. This brand-new franchise by THQ Nordic and Pow Wow Entertainment came out of nowhere, and we are here for it! On paper, this appears to be the perfect blend of what we have all been after… Wreckfest, Fall Guys and Flatout 2. I for one, am ready for whatever the hell this is. And hopefully, my playable ragdoll is too! 

Porsche 911 R Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown

If you are here to find out about Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown or the next Forza Motorsport, then I am afraid you will have to wait until 2023.

So that’s a quick look at the current state of racing games as we pass the midway point of 2022. It’s been a mixed year with some massive titles delivering flawed success, and smaller games catching us all by surprise. Let us hope for some great new adventures in the coming weeks and months.  

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