NASCAR comes back to console video games, with the Unreal Engine

Stock cars and truck racing is returning to consoles and PC this fall and, properly enough, there’s a brand-new engine under the hood.

NASCAR 21: Ignition, made in Unbelievable 4, will release Oct. 28 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. It’s the 2nd NASCAR title released by brand-new label Motorsport Games, a subsidiary of the international media business Motorsport Network, best understood for its Motorsport.com site.

“It’s a product that we’ve been building for over two years; it is a built-from-scratch product,” Dmitry Kozko, Motorsport Games’ president, informed Polygon in an interview.

That’s a crucial statement, since in 2015’s NASCAR Heat 5 was mainly a short-notice reconditioning of the previous year’s video game. The advancement cycle was likewise impacted by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the abrupt end of Beast Games’ run constructing the video game.

The NASCAR Heat series, covering 2016 to 2020, was integrated in the Unity engine, which offered its parts a no-frills appearance. NASCAR 21: Ignition “has none of the Unity components,” Kozko stated. “It has probably nothing except some concepts from the previous games that 704 Games published.”

Motorsport Network has actually belonged owner of 704 Games because 2019, and this spring took control of as its bulk owner. Motorsport Games at the exact same time likewise finished its acquisition of Studio 397, makers of the high-end PC racing simulator rFactor 2. That offer came together after Studio 397 and Motorsport Network collaborated for 2 pandemic occasions, last June’s 24 hr of Le Mans Virtual occasion, and the spring’s Formula E Race in your home Difficulty.

The point is, Studio 397’s innovation will likewise belong of NASCAR 21: Ignition. “What’s underneath Unreal is rFactor physics,” Kozko stated. “Of course, the main point is not to make it like a simulator, where only the drivers would understand how to operate it, but to bring that and make it accessible to anybody and everybody.”

Provided the spotty history of NASCAR as a computer game license in the 2 console generations because EA Sports left, Motorsport’s relocation is an unanticipated doubling down. Kozko candidly acknowledged that the preceding series “doesn’t compare to the modern-day triple-A [development] requirements. … I don’t understand why no one has actually occurred to make the appropriate financial investment to develop that kind of title, however I’m happy to be the one for the next years with our licenses.

“That’s why we started from a blank slate and said, ‘If we were to take the latest and greatest technology today, from the biggest of the guys — from the EAs of the world, what would we do?” Kozko stated.

Motorsport Games will be taking that method to other huge time racing licenses, a few of which have actually had a minimal computer game existence, if ever. The Indianapolis 500, which hasn’t gotten AAA treatment because Codemasters’ IndyCar Series 2005 for Xbox and PlayStation 2, will likewise concern consoles and PC under Motorsport Games in 2023.

A turn on the road course at Watkins Glen International (no cars are present).

Age-old Watkins Glen International in upstate New york city. The roadway course hosted last weekend’s Go Bowling at the Glen, won by Kyle Larson
Image: Motorsport Games

Kozko’s department will likewise make certified video games for the 24 hr of Le Mans — which got a huge closeup in 2019’s Oscar-nominated Ford v Ferrari — and the British Touring Automobile Champion, which was the basis for the Codemasters series that ended up being Grid. Le Mans (in fact the signature occasion of the FIA World Stamina Champion) is prepared for around the exact same time as the IndyCar Series video game, Kozko stated, with the BTCC video game showing up in 2022.

“I have plenty of game [developers], guys with 20 to 30 years of experience, each. I have people who made Forza Horizon beautiful, and other things, and I’m very proud of that team,” Kozko unfortunate. “And I’m also proud of the team that didn’t come from the game industry, that is part of our passionate group of people who will help challenge the norms in these games.”

NASCAR 21: Ignition will have an updated variation for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 at some point after its October launch, and purchasers of the older console variation will have a complimentary upgrade, Motorsport Games stated. The video game restores essential modes of play, like a multi-season profession, online multiplayer, or racing in the existing season as one of the sport’s real-life chauffeurs. A press release on Thursday promoted higher personalization choices for produced chauffeurs and groups, too. The video game’s broadcast discussion is supported by commentary from MRN Radio, the sport’s longtime, NASCAR-owned radio network.

“We’re born out of a media company, which all it does is talk to this audience, and serves their passion,” Kozko stated of Motorsport Network. “We believe that our company, having a focus on creating a portfolio of different racing disciplines, we could have an economy-of-scale opportunity here to create really, really good experiences.”

Lineup File is Polygon’s news and viewpoint column on the crossway of sports and computer game.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.