World Of Speed – Preview

Title   World Of Speed
Developer  Slightly Mad Studios
Publisher  EA
Platform  Windows PC
Genre  Racing MMO
Release Date  TBA
Official Site

Free-to-play games are certainly gaining popularity within the industry, even if they are often associated with a lack of quality and microtransactions. World of Tanks and Warframe buck this trend with engaging gameplay, decent graphics and now, World of Speed joins this elite as an exciting entry into the racing genre. Developer Slightly Mad Studios have a very simple aim – to focus on cars, tracks and racing around them. They have a long history of success with the racing genre, having worked on the Need for Speed and Shift series, so a certain amount of quality is already assured.

In the first part of the demonstration we were shown the two main areas of car customisation and what effects they have in the game. The first focused on aesthetics for the car and the level to which you can personalise your vehicles. Slightly Mad Studios want the car to be an extension of the player’s personality, and for every car to be unique. The level of depth on show is impressive – decals, colours, trims and spoilers are just some of the options you have to make your car one of a kind. An important point is that these aesthetics do not act as performance enhancers and are totally cosmetic. The style of your vehicle should not be limited or hindered because a spoiler may slow you down or make you faster, and the developers are keen that the players create the car they want to create and not one they are restricted to.

The second part of car customisation focuses on performance, which boasted an equal if not deeper level of tinkering with your vehicle.  Engines, wheels and nitro were just a few of the many options on hand to create the ultimate speed machine. Nitro was taken as an example of just how in-depth players could go in order to make changes to their vehicles. This isn’t just a case of swapping out nitro canister A for nitro canister B. There is canister size, the rate at which the chemicals burn and the strength of the force the nitro gives out to consider. So, you could go for a giant canister that burns at a really quick rate, giving a slow and controlled burn, or a tiny canister that burns at a quick rate but, when you hit the trigger, sends you flying down the course. The choice is really yours and the number of options on offer should not be underestimated.

However, Slightly Mad Studios were quick to point out that building the fastest car is not always the way to victory and that, depending on the match in question, players will be required to complete certain objectives as they attempt to win the race. The example they gave was regarding an objective for drifting around corners, and it was here that the large canister of slow burning nitro would be most useful, as you need to keep a steady speed while navigating corners in a drifting manoeuvre.

Following this presentation we got a chance to go hands on with two different models of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, driving around one of the city tracks. As the game was loading, it was confirmed that the vehicles would have full damage modelling and that this would affect how the vehicles handled, but the damage wouldn’t carry over between races as the developers didn’t want players to be penalised for driving in a more aggressive style. We then got our hands on the Lancer Evo.

The first time round the track the car featured very few upgrades and the race focused more on strategic boosting and choosing when it was best to ‘tactically’ collide with your opponent. There were also some collisions with the wall, which demonstrated the damage modelling on the vehicle – my bonnet should now come with a sharp edges warning. The second time round, the Lancer Evo had some upgrades, including better wheels and improved nitro. The difference in terms of speed and control was immediately apparent, as I tore round corners and racked up bonuses for drifting and following the racing line. Although I only got to try out two versions of the same car, both expressed different types of handling and reactions, indicating that as an overall experience World of Speed will have plenty of depth for car enthusiasts.

Slightly Mad Studios are probably living up to their name by trying to create a racing MMO with the graphical flair you’d expect from the Forza or Gran Turismo series. The game looked gorgeous in its current state, though, and given that this is currently a PC exclusive I’m confident that the developers have included enough in order to make this game a success. As someone who usually sticks to Mario Kart when it comes to the racing genre, I’m certainly interested in what the final product will be when World of Speed releases in the future.

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