With NASCAR Rivals as the latest release from Motorsport Games back in 2022 for the Nintendo Switch, that title builds off of the reputation system of previous NASCAR Heat titles, and before that, the EA NASCAR titles.
The premise is, the way you race others will determine how they race you. Well, at least that’s how it was back in the EA days. Sure, there’s a hint of it in the Heat series, drivers may crowd you and hit you some, but for the most part, the Reputation built is more meant to affect opportunities and provide a little added immersion to the fold.
Looking back at NASCAR Heat 5, the most recent console release before what was the misfire called NASCAR 21: Ignition, the Reputation system was a decent part of the Career Mode if you played it a certain way. That way being, if you ran up the ladder of a specific series running for existing teams as opposed to running your own team.
FRIENDS VS RIVALS: REPUTATION AND HOW IT WORKS
When you start out your career, everyone is neutral to you with a blank slate to impress on. Make clean passes on people, they will start to warm up to you. Ram into them and spin them out, they’ll start to get the hint that you don’t like them.
When you get someone to the furthest most point, whether it be a Friend or a Rival, that is when you Reputation begins to change and the way driver’s race you on the track is affected.
RIVAL <-> ANGRY <-> MAD <-> UPSET <-> ANNOYED <-> NEUTRAL <-> POLITE <-> NICE <-> KIND <-> HAPPY <-> FRIEND
It’s really easy to get someone to the Rival side, and to make them NOT your Rival, it takes even longer. They do not forgive and forget too easily. It’s also really easy to make a Friend not your friend by crashing into them often. The Reputation System is a two-way street and it’s fairly straightforward to comprehend it.
There are times where you’ll get messaged by drivers after the race, and prepositioned with whether you’d like to Compliment/Apologize or Insult/Antagonize them. The former will help you to either save your friendship or strengthen it, and the latter will only lead them deeper into the pit of frustration with your driving standards.
KEEPING DRIVERS HAPPY
If you want to be given more room on the track, as well as collect the admiration of your computer opponent peers, then clean racing is the way to go. Don’t hit everyone you come across, don’t crowd a driver into the wall, and race with respect, and you’ll be the cleanest driver in the series, per the headlines.
If you do end up messing with someone and you want to get them back to your side, just give them space and let them breathe. Every little contact is going to mess them up more and get them more mad at you.
THE ROSS CHASTAIN EFFECT
OK, so NASCAR Cup Series driver Ross Chastain is in this game, but he wasn’t really talked about as much as he is in today’s day and age. Nowadays, if you drive dirty, you may be compared to Ross Chastain. Heck, you might even be Ross Chastain.
His infamous feuds with Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick… probably most drivers in the field, lately… have given him a real-world reputation where his NASCAR Heat 5 breakdown would be a lot of red and orange colors.
If you want to unleash your inner Ross Chastain (Hey, there’s a reason he’s the center cover athlete for NASCAR Rivals), you will be giving the bumper to anyone and everyone, no prejudice. Drive dirty, cause chaos, and your Rival count will soar.
Ross really isn’t a smack-talker though, so if you end up making enemies off the track, that might be more of a Tony Stewart, Kyle/Kurt Busch or Joey Logano way to earn enemies. More red names, however, may mess with your opportunities to drive for specific teams.
SOME TEAMS WANT RESPECTED DRIVERS, SOME DON’T CARE
While the on-track effects would be cleaner or more difficult driving around Friends and Rivals, there is another added effect to having too many Rivals on track.
If you’re not owning your own team and looking to drive for your favorite real-world teams in the game, well, unfortunately some may not want you. While there will be finishing requirements to some teams and what not, some teams will have Reputation standards. Others don’t, but many popular teams do.
Want to drive for Richard Childress Racing in the Xfinity Series? Well, you’ll need a Reputation of 11 or better, which means you need to make friends! Ryan Sieg Racing doesn’t care how many rivals you have, as long as any of them aren’t already on the team.
So, you really do make your own path depending on how you portray yourself in your own career. You can have success either way you slice it—some of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history have been staunch competitors, taking no prisoners. Some have also been friendly with the entire garage.
Play as you want to want to be played. Make your own reputation.
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