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Hands-on with DRIVECLUB: Behind the wheel on PS4

Plus, new video interview with Director Paul Rustchynsky

DRIVECLUB is a game PlayStation fans are likely already pretty familiar with. Originally slated as a PS4 launch title, the socially connected racer has shifted to an October 2014 release. But aspiring drivers needn’t fear: the developers at Evolution Studios are making good use of this extra time.

The team at Evolution have been busy ensuring the connected aspects of DRIVECLUB and its interface — dubbed the “dynamic menu” by game director Paul Rustchynsky — are seamlessly integrated into the game. These, in tandem with a companion app launching alongside the game in October, are what will allow DRIVECLUB to realise Evolution’s vision of a truly social racing title.

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Having played an earlier incarnation of DRIVECLUB as well as its newest build, I’m in a unique position to be able to see what other differences a few months can make firsthand.

The most immediately apparent upgrade I noticed is in the graphical department. DRIVECLUB has been a stunner since the day it was unveiled, but it’s hard to convey just how much love Evolution have poured into each of DRIVECLUB’s 50 car models and its environments.

“It’s hard to convey just how much love Evolution have poured into each of DRIVECLUB’s 50 car models”

Vehicles are immaculately crafted in full, native 1080p — right down to the screw heads on the chassis — and that level of detail permeates the rest of the game, too. At the start of each race, your driver enters his chariot (from either the left or right side, depending on the model) and the game drops you into an impressively accurate realisation of the car’s cockpit. Gauges light up and the engine roars, whines, or purrs appropriately before the race begins.

Quick audio aside: when recording sound for DRIVECLUB, Evolution used multiple microphones to capture various aural aspects of the interior and exterior of each ride. Headphones highly recommended.

While driving, vistas seem to stretch on into infinity — especially impressive on mountain courses, where distant peaks draw ever nearer as you zoom along the track. Leaves fall off trees during the race, then get kicked up by passing cars. The technical prowess of PS4 combined with the artistic details added by Evolution breathe life into this racer; more than once I had to resist the urge to stop driving and just admire the scenery.

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The time-of-day system in DRIVECLUB is a game-changer: Before a race begins, you’re able to choose not only the time of day, but the rate at which time passes. Speeding the passage of time to 15x, 30x, or even 60x means that you can start the race in the dark, watch the sun rise on lap two, and finish in broad daylight. One standout moment: whipping around a hairpin on a mountain track at dawn, watching the reflection of the rising sun in puddles left by melting snow. Gorgeous.

As a bit of a short attention span gamer, I’m pleased to report that DRIVECLUB finds various ways to foster a continuous sense of progression: not only will you be rewarded for winning races, but throughout the course of each event you’ll be faced with challenges: executing an extra-long drift, maintaining a high average speed, or reaching a specified velocity are a few examples. Each completed goal brings you one step closer to unlocking new cars, events, decals, and more.

“DRIVECLUB is a love letter to automobiles and the art of racing them”

DRIVECLUB’s controls are straightforward enough: R2 is your gas pedal and L2 hits the brakes, while the left stick steers and the right stick looks around. One thing I didn’t expect, though, was a motion control scheme that I ended up preferring over the more traditional approach.

A quick trip to the options menu lets you enable motion controls, driven by DualShock 4’s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, and — again, I say this as a classically trained, button-based gamer — it ends up correlating perfectly with the game’s in-car cockpit view. Tilting DualShock 4 left or right and watching your hands on the steering wheel move instantaneously feels perfectly natural, and makes long, soft turns much more graceful (rather than trying to find just the right angle to hold the analogue stick at). Of course, traditional controls still feel great, but I think I might end up defaulting to motion controls for this one!

DRIVECLUB is a love letter to automobiles and the art of racing them, and it’s a letter the masterminds at Evolution are clearly pouring their hearts into. Players worldwide can read it for themselves this October when DRIVECLUB launches on PS4.

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32 Comments
0 Author replies

Let me know when they decide to give us a proper game in PS+, as was promised on last years E3, and not a demo.

Since when does a demo have online multiplayer and rankings etc? You have your free PS+ game feuture wise. Want more then get the full game. Or do people want a f2p game with full of microtransactions?

1.2

Just stop moaning for a game that you didn’t pay for and getting free. You didn’t subscribe PS+ for Driveclub and if you don’t like it, just remove it.

No one has to give free content to you. Be thankful.

1.3

Oh my gosh, every time another Pole gets this “I paid *something* so give me everything” I feel sick to my stomach :( Why can’t we (I’m from Poland too) just enjoy something that is given to us? I am super happy that there will be limited PS+ version for testing, as I would never buy this game without playing it first. This way, there’s a great chance I will buy it if I like it :-)

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This looks really good cant wait to play it

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I’m still interested to know where it sits between arcade racing and simulation.

They said it should appeal to both (like Grid 2) sure because of that Grid 2 wasn’t a success but that’s what they are going for. But as soon as you can get in for free on Plus you know for sure and then you only have to plunk down a little bit of money with an amount equal of that of a full priced game to get the whole experience.

Will this game get a custom audio profile for Pulse/Gold Wireless headset?

dark_angel69 22 May, 2014 @ 16:17
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I can’t wait for this game!!! I keep day dreaming too much of myself driving those cars when I’m driving to work. Just want to drift and race so bad. :(

dont argue with those who are “moaning”. There are just facts. We indeed get a good price for the money we gave for ps+, this is the one fact. The other fact is that we got a promise for a free driveclub in ps+. And be sure that many people grabbed the ps+ discount to join the ps+, having in mind a later ps4 purchase and of course the free driveclub. The worst thing is to forget and of course to not keep a promise. Sony seems not -as of today- to keep their promise. Some player do forget that. Some others dont -for theri unique reasons.
Saying that “ok we get much already” is a distraction. If you promise something and get money out of it, you should keep it. No matter what.

From the day that Sony mentioned you would get driveclub in PS plus in E3 last year they stated that it would not be the full game. Hence why from the day this was announced it was call Driveclub PS Plus edition. No promises were broken they said it wasnt going to be a full game from the minute it was announced.

What kind of punishment will be given to players who use there cares as battle tanks in races and just decide their only goal is to hit people and mess up their cars? Will the game be able to tell when someone is making contact on purpose or if it was accidental/unavoidable? I ask because play Grid 2 online and GTA online You run into people who don’t like to race fair when you get out side the pool of dev’s and early access reviewers. Like wise what is going to be done about damage fixing will it be automatic or will you have to pay with in game currency?

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Sorry I meant cars not cares but people who drive recklessly usually don’t care and I feel should be accounted for before launch instead of after to avoid the angry e-mails and other anger to the dev’s because of butt-holes driving like butt-holes.

Hoping for a dedicated EQ/sound profile for the Sony Wireless Headset 2.0 :) looking forward to playing this game, in addition really hope I can use my racing wheel.

Martin-Paczinsky 22 May, 2014 @ 18:46
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I Can’t wait for games.

Evolution, what about steering wheels? Will my Logitech G27 be supported? On Twitter you slide multiple months ago that you would get back to us regarding wheel support.

Looks stunning, nice work Evo :D

Paha-Vaatturi 22 May, 2014 @ 21:12
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“Headphones highly recommended.”

Headphones? Dualshock 4? Who.. why… ? I prefer T500 RS wheel and my 7.1 setup

Stonesthrow 22 May, 2014 @ 22:10
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I must say, that last gameplay trailer kind of blew me away.. Progress has clearly been made in those extra months. Especially the sense of speed is more tangible than say, in Gran Turismo. Almost got me to pre order the real deal and stop stressing over the PLUS lite version, but I wanna see how interesting it is without all the social competitive online stuff for which it was basically made.. Definitely one of the best looking racers I’ve ever seen on a technical and graphical level! Now bring us a new Motorstorm Apocalypse next please! :p

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Hated Grid 2. Hate ‘simcade’ handling. Hate driving with controllers, or wii-motes.

Waiting for a real racing game on PS4 with wheel support, still, it seems…

I-Am-Goat-Boy 23 May, 2014 @ 09:16
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Project CARS comes out a month after Driveclub if that helps at all.

Logitech support ? or no money !!!!

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Looks great, but please don’t forget us lunatics.
I want a new Motorstorm.

Godzprototype 23 May, 2014 @ 14:50
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I remember Motorstorm! Still play it too. Looking forward to Drive Club and all that detail. Evolution does it so right.

CassiveBrewster_ 23 May, 2014 @ 17:53
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The graphics are better than any other racer’s. This is why I mess with exclusive titles, the developer’s dedicate more blood, sweat and tears into a perfect project, most multi-platform games feel sloppy

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