With World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing releasing in September, we take a look back at developer Monster Games’ recent releases to see if there are any parallels.
On 27th September 2022, the first World of Outlaws video game in over a decade will hit the marketplace thanks to the combined efforts of the development team at Monster Games and its new ownership group and publishers at iRacing.
World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing is the first title that Monster Games will release under the iRacing umbrella since the deal was struck to purchase the developer in January.
The upcoming racing title will have the World of Outlaws Sprint Car, Late Model, four additional ‘DIRTcar’ race vehicles, a roster of real-world drivers, plus more than 40 dirt tracks – 13 of which will be officially licensed venues.
Keeping that in mind, the other 27-plus venues will likely be fantasy tracks, which thankfully Monster Games has a ton of from its previous racing titles.
It is believed that the game will be using a mixture of assets and technology from both previous Monster Games dirt racing titles alongside iRacing. The title, which was unnamed at the time of the iRacing acquisition, was already in the works or at least known about before the deal was completed.
PREVIOUS MONSTER GAMES RACING TITLES
The promotional material that we’ve seen so far seems to be heavily influenced by the previous Monster Games dirt racing games from the last couple of years.
It looks to be still on the Unity Engine that’s been utilized for all of Monster Games’ previous projects dating back to the NASCAR Heat games – albeit with no official confirmation at the time of writing.
While the first game didn’t have it, the second NASCAR Heat did feature Eldora and the third and fourth NASCAR Heat titles had a dirt racing series element in their Xtreme Dirt Tour.
After those four NASCAR Heat titles from 2016 to 2019, Monster Games moved on to develop and publish its own titles separate from 704Games. In 2020, the studio released two games under the name of a racing legend in multiple motorsports, none other than Tony Stewart.
Tony Stewart’s Sprint Car Racing and Tony Stewart’s All-American Racing were essentially extensions of one another. They came out in the same year, both featuring dirt racing and over 50 fictional dirt racing facilities split between the two titles.
Sprint Car Racing came out first and had the more traditional WoO style racing included, of course without the licensing. Three-Quarter Midgets, 305 Non-Winged Sprint Cars and Winged 410 Sprint Cars were the three vehicles to race with and the tracks were all fantasy venues.
All-American Racing was more of a local stock car type of dirt racing with Big Block Modifieds, Legend Cars, Street Stocks and a DLC pack for Late Models. While the base game is full of fantasy tracks, there are four real-world tracks available as DLC.
In 2021, Stewart found his name attached to another racing series, this one built brand-new from the ground up, the Superstar Racing Experience, or SRX for short. The real-world series was made up of a handful of famous racers from different motorsports competing at a handful of short courses during the summer months.
Monster Games was able to build upon its assets from the previous NASCAR Heat titles and the Tony Stewart titles to create SRX: The Game in 2021, just in time for the real-world series to kick off. The series visited six venues and all six, including Eldora and Knoxville, were included.
Of the 52 or so fictional venues in the Tony Stewart titles, a majority (44) of those tracks were repurposed within SRX: The Game. While it felt like the Tony Stewart titles complimented each other with different cars and tracks in both, SRX: The Game felt like a culmination of both games combined with the SRX movement, plus some extra dirty racing action.
Alongside most of the fictional tracks from the two Tony Stewart titles finding their way into the SRX game, both the 305 Non-Winged Sprint Cars from Sprint Car Racing and the Late Models from All-American Racing were also utilized. SRX also featured the real-world series’ cars and some asphalt tracks, Stadium Trucks and an asphalt Super Late Model DLC.
Across the years, I’ve played the three independent Monster Games titles as well as all of the NASCAR Heat games and there’s a marked improvement over the years, with each new game being a step in the right direction.
While I was never enamoured by the NASCAR Heat dirt racing scene, SRX: The Game was a similar yet refreshing take on the more arcade-style of racing gaming. In essence, all the games offered the same basic platform with mild tweaks, from their career to their online to even the way the cars handle.
Comparing the Tony Stewart games and SRX: The Game specifically, the latter felt more like a complete game with more to do. From a more in-depth career mode, which took players through the dirt racing ranks to the top Superstar Racing Experience, to a more detailed paint booth, Monster Games seemingly took what it learned from everything prior and made a solid console title.
Therefore, I hope World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing continues this progression.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN SEPTEMBER
There have been World of Outlaws games before, such as the different titles offered by Ratbag Games in the early 2000s and the 2010 release by Big Ant Studios. Unfortunately, while those are all the last officially sanctioned World of Outlaws titles, it’s unlikely they’ll have any correlation to the upcoming Dirt Racing game besides the official game status.
Objectively speaking, it looks like if you’ve played the Tony Stewart games or the SRX game, you’ll likely be in for more of the same when World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing drops. That’s not necessarily saying that it’s a bad thing, but it definitely won’t be iRacing on a console, as much as many may want it, or expect it, to be.
At the end of 2021, when it was learned that iRacing would be adding Monster Games to its portfolio, console gaming was heavily in the minds of the leadership, evidenced by the fact that the new WoO title isn’t releasing on PC. Seemingly getting iRacing on a PlayStation or Xbox is no simple task.
iRacing, of course, is an online simulation platform based on PC with a ton of esports branching out of it, while the SRX and Tony Stewart games were more accessible racing games, usually played casually with a gamepad and no official esports tied to the titles.
While this is the first step for the Massachusetts-based sim pioneers to get its name out in the console gaming sphere, I really don’t think it’ll have too much of a noticeable influence on the upcoming game. If you want a simulated dirt racing experience, iRacing already offers that through its own program.
In the press release that iRacing will be providing art assets and will work to improve the physics model of the cars in the upcoming game. So while the game will likely have a different feeling than the previous Monster Games entries, it also will likely be a preferable experience with a controller over a wheel.
With the licensing agreements, being able to have information and data about the tracks and the cars will be valuable, but Monster Games also had working models of a lot of those things already, with the Winged and Non-Winged Sprint Cars in the Sprint Car Racing and the Late Model in All-American Racing.
So far, tracks physic details appear to be thin on the ground. On iRacing, the dirt tracks all feature a dynamic setting where the surface will go from tacky to slicked off. In the previous Monster Games titles, the tracks don’t do that, they stay at a stagnant grip level. I don’t think we’ll see that either, but maybe they could have a setting for track wear?
The PC simulation currently offers nine of the ten already announced dirt tracks already, the outlier being the Texas Dirt Track. That particular venue was offered as DLC in All-American Racing, however. Since art assets are being provided by iRacing, the scan data will hopefully help in building these tracks up.
As I said, I think last year’s SRX release is going to be a comparable experience with the new World of Outlaws game. This is further backed up by the recent Amazon listing highlighting 25-player online multiplayer and an image of the car customiser, both of which look and sound very familiar.
It seems the team will likely use what it has already to fill out the fictional track roster too. Personally, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Durango Park to return…
If that’s truly the case, hopefully, the release allows the iRacing name to reach a wider audience through a previously untapped medium – the console sphere. It will hopefully diversify revenue streams in a fiercely competitive market, alongside the publishing of DRAG.
If this leads to greater funds for developing iRacing in the future or even an eventual form of simulation on consoles, that can only bring positivity to all involved and the racing game community.
Ultimately, World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing likely won’t reinvent the wheel, but we’ll find out soon enough when we can get our hands on a copy and try it for ourselves. It launches on 27th September 2022 for the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.
Featured image was taken in iRacing