All the way back in August 2016, gamers were given the wonderful opportunity to step into the world of Assetto Corsa, the highly anticipated simulation racer that had made the switch from PC to Xbox One. Back then though, things weren’t the best. Assetto Corsa had issues, screen tearing was rife, difficulty was overbearing even for veteran racing fanatics and stuttering during online races made the experiences much duller than we had expected. Times have changed since that point though and with Assetto Corsa: Ultimate Edition now available, is now the time to take another look at the racer?
So, the biggest change with Assetto Corsa: Ultimate Edition is the fact that the game is complete with every piece of DLC that comes in the Season Pass, as well as three additional DLC packs. This means the number of beautifully crafted and unimaginably realised cars now comes in at a staggering 178, with Ferraris, Porsches and even some Japanese models thrown in there too.
As for the tracks you’ll be racing those exciting speed machines on, and there are 16 unique locations in total with 33 different layouts between them. The number of tracks still feels slightly disappointing as I would like to see several more included with DLC. We can’t however take away from the fact that Assetto Corsa does indeed come from a small indie team without the budget of many triple-A developers and when considering the intricate detail and mesmerising realism of those that have been included, the track selections are certainly nothing to scoff at; the beautiful Nordschleife and full 1966 Monza course are amongst the standouts included in photo realistic quality.
There are four different ways to get stuck into Assetto Corsa – Special Events, Championships, Career and Drive – with each mode containing a host of different racing options within.
Career mode is where you’ll find yourself wanting to spend the majority of your time and here players start off with some Novice series of races. By performing well in these races and earning medals, you can then unlock various series’ and multiple brand and car specific options mixed in too. Unlike most racing games, Assetto Corsa doesn’t pave your path to becoming the ultimate racing champion, or even paint a picture of an up and coming driver at all though. Here the experience is all about the racing and how it feels to be out on the track – besides unlocking further championships with medals accrued, there is very little to aim for in terms of progression, so if you are jumping in you’d best be here for the driving experience.
Besides the unlocking of championships in Career mode, the rest of Assetto Corsa is completely open from the off, so if you want to jump straight in with the fastest cars available then the option is there to do just that. Drive is probably the best chance to experience this as it brings access to a host of different modes with Practice, Quick Race, Race Weekend, Hotlap, Time Attack, Drift and Online all available to enjoy.
Whilst most of them are pretty self-explanatory, especially for racing fans – and let’s be honest, if you’re not a through and through racing fan you’re probably not going to be overly interested in a simulation racer – the Drift and Online modes do present something that feels slightly different from the rest of the game.
In my initial review, a big problem faced when getting involved in these modes were the technical issues getting in the way of a smooth racing experience. This time all that is gone and having been able to get some decent time with each mode as it is intended there are a few things to note. First of all, Drift mode is what you should expect from a Drift mode, letting you choose any track, any car and simply get on down to business. The difference with Assetto Corsa’s drifting to many other games however – Forza in particular – is that there is no arcade feel to Assetto Corsa through either the controls or the handling, meaning if you hope to get your car sideways around the winding corners of Italy’s Magione, or the Japanese Drift circuit, then you’ll need to be genuinely quite good at handling of cars, and have the ability to maintain a drift. Those who can, will find themselves working their way through their drift up to level 50 which is the main goal of the mode, whilst those who require assists are likely to find the gravel pits as their only friend.
As for the online side of things, once again I have complaints, although this time, it’s not something caused by the game or any fault of the developers as all previous bugs and issues have been cleanly ironed out. Instead the issue comes down to how few players are populating the online side of things, with races often taking some time to get any decent number of players in. If you do get in a race though, and are after a real challenge, this is the place to go to truly stick pedal to the metal.
Championship mode is another that is similar to Drive, and whilst the goal is to win the championship, it’s still a pretty basic mode that allows you to mess around with the settings such as number of cars, class types, laps, whether you want practice and qualifying in place and so on. Sure, it provides a good way to familiarise yourself with things if you want to get some more practice in before Career mode, but otherwise there isn’t really much point to get involved here.
The final option is something that is probably my favourite of the lot – Special Events. Here players can get involved in over 150 car specific events that range from Hotlaps to Drift and Time Attack to Quick Race. Each event brings very different cars too, meaning those wanting to experience a bit of everything will be best placed in this mode.
Overall, Assetto Corsa: Ultimate Edition is no longer a disappointing racer. Yes, there are still some issues present – players magically appearing at the end of the pit lane upon race completion and an overly difficult A.I. counterpart even on the easier difficulty settings are two in particular – but in general the game has come a long way since 2016. With a ton of quality content now included, if you get your thrills from sheer racing experiences, then Assetto Corsa is one racer that does away with all the messing around and instead just throws you into a world full of incredible visuals and the sheer power of multiple racing vehicles.