Racing games are, well, mostly a niche community of players per game platform. Most sim racers dedicate their time to a single racing platform, although some will venture out into other games to see what’s going on once in a while.
Racing games in general just aren’t the most popular things out there. Vehicles are cool, racing can be cool, but many of the most popular video games on the market tend to be massive online multiplayer affairs like Fortnite or Minecraft that basically anyone can play.
There have been plenty of racing games that have seen successes, but nothing on a top-level scale except perhaps a franchise like Mario Kart – Nintendo could make bocce ball fun if they made a Mario game for that.
Furthermore, a game’s popularity suffers when said game is limited in its reach across the multiverse of gaming, especially when something is only playable on PC, and that will basically set it in stone that a game won’t be able to reach its maximum potential.
PC specific racing games or simulators, like iRacing, rFactor 2, or Automobilista 2 can only have a limited community when their products aren’t widely available on consoles like Xbox, PlayStation, or even Nintendo. The games might have better reception and popularity among the niche, but it won’t stand out to those who aren’t avid racing fans looking for the most realistic racer out there.
I’ll give an example from my own experiences. My brother Steven doesn’t enjoy racing like I do, but when he got home from college this semester, we were able to find common ground in talking about a few racing games on console like Forza Horizon and Gran Turismo.
I get why they might stick out more than iRacing or AMS2 could to the overall public. Not everyone is a PC gamer out there, plus having the ability to pick up a copy of an enjoyable racer for a console setting without the need for a whole racing rig works for most people out there.
I’ve been playing Automobilista 2 for a few months now since I started writing for Traxion.GG, and although it’s not my personal sim of choice, I still find a lot of good in it. It drives pretty well with my Fanatec system, and the graphics are impressive. The movable camera for screenshots is a big plus in my book, and I adore the dynamic weather system.
It’s not often you can experience an enjoyable wet weather race that could turn dry, or vice versa, in the middle of the event.
Besides that, there’s really not too much else to it. I had a thought the other day, what if Automobilista 2 was a console game? What would be its selling point for PlayStation, Xbox, or even Nintendo gamers? Why wouldn’t it work? Let’s dig in.
IT HAS THE FEEL OF A CONSOLE RACER
Opening up Automobilista 2, the menu itself feels like something I’d be navigating using my PS4 controller. Simple, easy to read and easy to pick what I want to drive. I said before that I use my Fanatec system, but this game works well with a controller too. I don’t look at it and think I need my mouse to click on the different options, I could just controller my way over to what I need.
The MADNESS engine utilized in AMS2 comes from a few of the Slightly Mad Studios games that have previously been on consoles, namely the Project CARS franchise. A good chunk of the best parts of PCARS, like the day-to-night transitions and dynamic weather, appear here too, but another bonus is having some controller driving support.
Other sims like iRacing and rFactor 2 can utilize controllers, but it’s not easy to set up and takes a good amount of skill to get decent at driving with thumbs.
Yes, there are dedicated controller racers out there that can whoop on wheeled drivers handedly across all simulators, but as Traxion’s John Munro pointed out on the Traxion channel a few weeks ago, there are just some things that a controller can’t do that a wheel could.
A lot of the content in Automobilista 2 won’t be found anywhere on a console, especially the cool cars like the Brazilian stock cars or the unique Brazilian venues in the tracklist.
Being optimized for PC might be a struggle to overcome, but next-gen technology should be able to handle the graphics engine at high precision, likely with maxed-out settings. The aforementioned MADNESS engine is already proven to work on the last generation of consoles with some Project CARS games, so in theory, it should be possible from a technical standpoint.
Overall, there are a number of things that make this game a perfect candidate for console gaming, but there would definitely need to be some additions to the sim, as well as some hurdles to overcome, before just porting it over. It may have a console feel, but it would never survive as is.
IT’S TOO BARE BONES
By itself, the game is a great racer and has exceptional features for the different vehicles included, but besides racing the computer or against other friends online, what else is there?
Sure, there’s a season mode that allows some customization now, but other than that? There’s no career mode, no online ranking system – yet – and no story behind the sim. It’s just race, which may be all it needs, but won’t attract the gamers who aren’t big racing fans.
In its current state, I don’t think it will keep the attention of those looking for more depth or those who aren’t already deep into damper rate adjustments after a few races.
The basic edition of the game is $39.99 / £35.99 and gives a good portion of the content, but there is a $99.99 / £79.99 2020-2022 Season Pass. That price is somewhat high up-front.
Sure, it continuously adds on content for three years, effectively making the game less the $50 per year, but it screams incomplete game, even though it works for iRacing subscribers. But then again, iRacing is pitched as a continually evolving platform, AMS2 less so.
DLC is inevitable, but the cost up front is fairly high and may not be favorable for the console community.
The only other issue I could see with Automobilista 2 on console would be an inevitable power struggle with the Project CARS franchise. Slightly Mad Studios CEO Ian Bell tweeted and deleted about a new Project CARS 4 in December 2020. Although it hasn’t been confirmed anywhere, it seems pretty evident that it’s in development.
With Automobilista 2 utilizing the same game engine, having both games on the market would definitely take away from each other and possibly kill off both before they even get going.
IMPROVE ON WHAT EXISTS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE
Automobilista 2 has so much good going for it now and yet there are also many areas that can be improved upon. Thankfully, Reiza Studios is releasing game patches just about every week, their most recent build coming out a few weeks ago. Would I like to see Automobilista 2 on a console?
Honestly, I think it’s too late to consider it, so I don’t think it would ever even happen. I would like to see a lot more get added at some point, and if that means it can go console, I just hope there’s a cross-platform multiplayer included.
Maybe the third iteration of Automobilista could take a console pathway, but that’s likely years down the road.