Devil's in the details: why Driveclub might finally be the 'next-gen' we were promised

Third rule of Driveclub: Handle with care

Evolution was ambitious with its environs but at least the plan was clear: make the world as real and dynamic as possible. When it came to the cars things weren't as straightforward. It needed a game that fell just short of being a "driving simulator"; something that could be enjoyed by both the Gran Turismo audience and the more casual adrenaline chasers.

"We wanted it to be a very realistic handling model but at the same time it needed to be accessible for all players. We still wanted the hardcore people to enjoy driving this," says David Kirk, physics lead at Evolution.

"The braking times are all better than reality, and that's one of the examples of the things we do to make it easier for players. So it's not going to punish you by making you have to brake halfway down the road. You tend to not judge your braking points the same."


Evolution has added 'helpers' to its cars, but you'll barely notice they're there

There are a number of driving aids that Evolution has included but you won't notice them interfering with the handling - nor will they dumb down the character of the cars. You can still drift your way around the course, and yes, you will still be punished for braking late. "We've got several layers of helpers in there but at no point do we let them spoil the experience," says David.

"The Aerial Atom is a bonkers car because the weight is so far back," he gives by way of example. "You'd put it in the game and it was incredibly difficult to drive until we put these little helpers here and there."

For the same reason, car damage also needed to be cosmetic. Driving an Aston Martin and a Mini Cooper into a wall at 100mph is going to yield different results, so the team had to make sure that this was altered for the sake of consistency in order to make player vs player challenges fair.

Each car took around seven months to build. And here's something else that might blow your mind: the temperature gauges on the car dashboards actually work. But again, allowing temperature and altitude to affect handling would create yet another variable, so Evolution didn't let it.

As it stands, in another ridiculously small detail that feeds into Alex's "macro", though the team say it's something they could potentially switch on down the line.

Fourth rule of Driveclub: Don't be antisocial

Driveclub wants to be the first 'social racer'. And by that, it doesn't just want to make multiplayer a little more accessible or a little more fun, but it wants to have its own global social network.


This is Driveclub's dynamic menu, the reason for the game's delay

The problem was that, come last year's shipping deadline, it "wasn't seamless", says game director Paul Rustchynsky. Synchronous and asynchronous racing had to both be fluidly accessible, all via the dynamic tiled-based menu that will greet you every time you enter Driveclub.

You can send out challenges to members of your own club, or send them out publically with the potential for hundreds of people taking it on. Or you could set up some club vs club action.

The game lets you book races in advance by hours or even days using a slot system, while an ever-present activity feed will keep you up to date with all your friends' progress.

Everything else considered, it's surprising that it was these social features that caused Driveclub to be delayed for an entire year. But, for better or worse, it will likely be these social aspects that Driveclub lives or dies on.

Evolution believes that last November, it had the best racer ever made. When the game is released a year later, the studio is fully confident that none of that will have changed. And when you consider that it runs at 1080p, 30fps, perhaps this is the game to end the great Xbox One/PS4 resolutiongate bickering.

It's certainly something to think about when, come October, you're able to glimpse that Indian sunset, or see its incredibly real reflection in the bodywork of a Pagani Zonda R. From the detail in the tarmac, the the leaves on the trees, to the dynamic weather conditions that are never the same, Evolution can surely be proud of what it's achieved, no matter how the game is received come October.


Connections are the heart of Driveclub, says Evolution

It's a perfectionism that even veered into the danger zone. Venturing into India, art director Alex Perkins tells us, the team found themselves in one particularly memorable traffic jam.

"I turn around in the back seat, look through the back window and a bull elephant is rearing trumpet up, doing a full blast, and then charged the car. I promptly almost died of a heart attack and screamed at the driver to accelerate away. But as you can see, it was worth stopping for the vista."

Taking in that view, it's difficult to argue.

Hugh Langley

Hugh Langley is the ex-News Editor of TechRadar. He had written for many magazines and websites including Business Insider, The Telegraph, IGN, Gizmodo, Entrepreneur Magazine, WIRED (UK), TrustedReviews, Business Insider Australia, Business Insider India, Business Insider Singapore, Wareable, The Ambient and more.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider covering Google and Alphabet, and has the unfortunate distinction of accidentally linking the TechRadar homepage to a rival publication.