Assetto Corsa, the well-respected racing game developed by KUNOS Simulazioni, is getting a successor! Assetto Corsa Competizione, built on the fourth iteration of the Unreal Engine, is set to be released this summer.
The Italian studio has big plans for their latest racing game. With the switch to the Unreal Engine, the new installment of AC will feature full day & night cycles, realistic weather, and improved physics. Besides a new engine, some other nifty new features are rumoured to be included in the game as well.
The original Assetto Corsa runs on an inhouse built engine which managed to impress many sim racing enthusiasts through both a vast selection of beautifully detailed cars and realistic laser scanned racing tracks. While Assetto Corsa did feature online racing, it wasn’t the most feature-rich. Racing in a more competitive format means drivers must look at the official forums in order to get enrolled in a league or series.
The switch to a new engine will brings a number of new features to the series.
Unreal Engine 4
The original Unreal Engine was released over two decades ago (in May of 1998). In these 20 years, the Unreal Engine has allowed game developers to create their own fully functional game worlds. However, the games industry has rapidly developed since then. The latest iteration, Unreal 4, was released in September 2014, is actively being developed, and receives updates and patches regularly.
"Unreal Engine is a complete suite of creation tools designed to meet ambitious artistic visions while being flexible enough to ensure success for teams of all sizes. As an established, industry-leading engine, Unreal delivers powerful, proven performance that you can trust. "UnrealEngine.com - What is Unreal Engine 4
The Unreal Engine is described as powerful, just like a real-life race engine powering you uphill as you plant your foot on the loud pedal through Eau Rouge. With a game engine that’s meant to deliver proven performance that you can trust, racing fans can focus on their race engine’s reliability instead. Both engines are going to be vital in securing race wins & championship titles.
Although that's where the connection between the Unreal Engine and the racing genre ends. There are no racing games, besides a few casual and arcade ones, worth mentioning that were built on this engine - not just the fourth iteration, but on any version of the Unreal Engine. While there’s no reason to believe that will be an issue, there’s always a risk involved when switching engines between projects.
With a full day & night cycle and photorealistic weather conditions AC Competizione is definitely something to look forward to.
The benefit of picking a well-known engine like the Unreal Engine, however, is that there’s a ton of documentation and knowledge already available. There's nothing stopping KUNOS from creating a masterpiece of a racing game on this new engine. In fact, they put the new game engine as front & center of their marketing efforts, suggesting that Kunos thinks this change will provide a big step forward for their racing series.
"Assetto Corsa Competizione [..] takes full advantage of Unreal Engine 4 to ensure photorealistic weather conditions and graphics, night races, motion capture animations, [...] improved tyre and aerodynamic models."Steam Store Page
Ranked Online Matchmaking
The new installment of AC focuses on a number of things, most notably, the addition of a whole new online experience to get your daily dose of sim racing. Rumours about a rank-based system for the online competition come as great news to the community. Currently, the only way to achieve glory among fellow sim racers means that you have to be part of an organized racing league (through communities such as Race Department or GT Planet), or you need to open your wallet and try the monthly subscription service iRacing (which really holds the top spot when it comes to competitive online racing these days). Assetto Corsa Competizione is looking to shake that up by introducing its own ranking system.
Want to learn more about ranked matchmaking in online sim racing? Learn about how fast iRacing thinks you are.
What about VR Support
But don't put away your VR goggles just yet... There is some good news on the horizon since the Unreal Engine does have native VR support, meaning that the framework this new game is being developed for has the features required to develop games with VR capabilities. This is by no means a guarantee, but the tools are available which means that the cost (amount of man hours mainly) should be reduced as there are components available to (re)use.
The Unreal Engine comes with VR support:
- Rendering pipeline that gets you to 90 Hz stereo framerate or faster at high resolutions for VR, no code changes required.
- Tools that scale from simple to extremely detailed scenes, environments and characters.
We're looking forward to finding out more about Assetto Corsa Competizione and hope that VR is on the roadmap to be added as it is a great way to immerse yourself fully into the racing shoes of a racing driver.
Play & Preview Assetto Corsa Competizione
With a brand new game engine to provide the best immersion and the addition of an online ranked matchmaking system, the latest installment in the Assetto Corsa series is definitely something to look forward to.
According to its Steam Store page, AC Competizione is set to be released this summer. In the meantime if you are lucky enough to visit the E3 this year (held from June 12th to 14th in Los Angeles), AC Competizione will be playable at South Hall Booth 2811.
The official website also lists that there will be cockpits setup for racing fans to drive some exotic GT3 cars in AC Competizione at the Misano World Circuit, during the Blancpain GT Series race weekend held in Italy from June 22nd to 24th.
Sim Racing Rigs is looking forward to the latest installment in the AC series. The move to the Unreal 4 Engine should be a big step forward by adding a full weather system and a day and night cycle. We can’t wait to buckle up and compete online in a GT3 car on one of our favourite tracks. See you online!