Winning Isn’t Everything: The First Rule Of DriveClub

“In Driveclub, it’s not about coming first place.”

Evolution there with a synopsis of its upcoming next-gen racer, and not one that’s pumped with the usual pre-release hot air. In fact, it’s a very apt summary.

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The build we played was pre-alpha and only 35% done. It may not have sported stunning next-gen visuals but ran incredibly well, giving players a clear idea of how the finished product will look.

The Plus Side

  • Sony has already confirmed that PlayStation Plus is coming to PS4. Driveclub is poised to be the first next-gen title delivered by the free content service. However, it has been confirmed this version will feature a smaller number of tracks and vehicles.

As the name suggests, Driveclub hinges on social interactivity and a sense of community, whether on a local or global scale. This core feature is established by the game’s titular twelve-man race teams who will, during the course of their existence, develop and go head to head with other clubs around the world.

At first, twelve may sound like a bit of a cop out but there’s firm logic underlying Evolution’s implementation of smaller teams. This decision hinges around what works best in the context of a wider online community. If there were no cap, high profile, board-topping clubs would amass the biggest following. From there, with each member able to accumulate points for its club, within weeks one team would have monopolised the entire game. Twelve keeps things much more concise and gives Driveclub the means to highlight individual achievements and data for each member.

On the opposite end of the scale we’ve been informed that the minimum club size is two. This prevents the emergence of a billion one-man armies, yet two or three players can still enjoy the same features and benefits available to full-sized clubs.

With custom decals, livery, and re-skinned menus/UI, joining a team in Driveclub isn’t the same as enrolling in any old online clan. Everything you do in-game, whether it be a campaign race or multiplayer face-off, is littered with opportunities to bag fame and boost your club’s profile. If it didn’t sound like a marketing team’s worst nightmare, the name “Drivepact” would have been more appropriate.

From what’s been said in the past, Driveclub is positioned as the perfect solution for both hardcore and casual gamers, straddling the line between playable arcade racers and unmerciful driving sims. After participating in a few events, Driveclub definitely leans towards the latter, but it’s not all bad news for those who abhor Gran Turismo, Forza, and their ilk.

Though fast and sometimes unwieldy, the cars in Driveclub give players a great sense of control. The button layout is comfortable albeit conventional, granting swift passage to those who are able to monitor the road ahead. Clever on-screen prompts let players know how and when to adjust their speed and navigate corners. It’s nothing new but, when paired with Driveclub’s revised gameplay, feels less intimidating than existing driving sims.

One thing players may have difficulty adjusting to is Driveclub’s default, first-person perspective.

“…Driveclub isn’t a pageant for elitist motorheads.”

As mentioned before, there are a litter of ways in which to score fame for your club. One of these is by competing in on-the-fly challenges that will appear during events. For instance, whilst tackling a time trial a challenge triggered, monitoring how long our drift was around a specific point of the track. There-and-then players are informed how well they did in comparison to others with a chance of scoring bonus points for their club. The whole system is quick, non-intrusive, and will keep racers on their toes whatever they may be doing.

Though coming first in events and challenges is ideal, Driveclub grants an equal sense of reward and participation to all runner’s up. With that said, those clubs that ascend the ranks will earn a spot in Evolution’s community spotlight and will also have access to high-tier events.

Still, Driveclub isn’t a pageant for elitist motorheads. It’s a deep albeit highly accessible racer and one of the launch titles definitely worth getting stuck into when the PS4 finally arrives.

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9 Comments

  1. Great read. REALLY looking forward to this game.

  2. I really don’t understand Driveclub’s focus at the moment. Surely the whole point of a racing game is to aim for first place? I get they are trying something new but I’m sure they can come up with something more interesting than “don’t worry if you suck at racing games, we still love you”

    • Aim for first, sure. But if by finishing in 6th, one place ahead of a player on the other team, your team gets overall victory then it will be ace. Races within races.

    • Further to what Michael said. Think of the way DiRT 3’s team races worked. Your fastest guy aimed to beat the fastest guy on the other team. But if he failed, you could still win overall by being the fastest of the slowest. :)

  3. It’s sounding very interesting the way the social and in-game challenge aspects work. I can’t wait to see some game footage.

    • Scrub that, just watched some off-screen gameplay on [ahem] another site, and it looks a little unforgiving but not too bad.

  4. you have to be in a team of at least two? Bit stupid IMO. This sounds interesting but I can see it being a total fuck up and lots of complaints. I wouldn’t know what team to be part of if I have no mates on the PS4?

    • I’m sure I heard that you can play the game completely offline. My guess would be that you can play the game without joining a club/clan at all, but if you choose to create/join one, the minimal size will be 2 (which makes sense).

    • If nobody else has by the time I get my mitts on it on launch day, I’ll be creating a TSA Club. Although, I haven’t decided between a club named after TSA’s sim racing team (which I co-founded) or just “TheSixthAxis”. :P

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