Preview: The first rule of DriveClub is to talk about DriveClub
Evolution Studios has managed to establish itself as a development powerhouse with just one franchise in a few short years' time. The original Motorstorm was considered one of the best next-gen racers for its time, and the following sequels, Pacific Rift and the wildly exciting Apocalypse, happily followed suit. However, for its latest go-around, its PlayStation 4 debut title DriveClub, the team is taking a calmer route, going for a more realistic – and social – driving experience that's more down-to-Earth. Sony recently invited us to check the game out at its Comic-Con booth.
DriveClub definitely leans on its social borders. The game has you putting together your own driver list, with the help of friends that are signed on to the PlayStation Network, and then challenging them to a series of events. You can take them on directly in the heat of racing battle, or you can challenge them with ghosts, seeing who can be king of the road when it comes to certain tournaments. Though it's hardly anything new for driving games (we've been seeing ghosts for years), this game should go a long way in building up a network of qualified racers.
Where DriveClub really stands out – at this point in development, anyway – is the visuals. While Evolution doesn't quite go next level like Turn 10 Studios did with Forza, what's here is mighty impressive for PS4 standards. The car models are quite excellent, and the multiple views when you're racing are helpful, ranging from in-the-cockpit to right behind the car. The tracks themselves look outstanding, like you're racing along real roads, and the frame rate is steady, though, again, not as fluid as Forza 5. There's still time for Sony to shine it up, however.
Then we get to the gameplay, and here is where you can feel that Evolution difference that made its other games work so well. While the antics have been toned down from Motorstorm's chaotic approach, the feel of DriveClub is smooth, with each car having a nice, distinct feel as you cruise down the road, carefully taking your corners while maintaining enough of a high speed to assure a first – or slightly lower – place victory. The PlayStation 4 feels quite comfortable with a game such as this, and being able to change options on-the-fly is something racing aficionados will want to take advantage of.
Again, though, there wasn't too much to see in this build, mainly because of the lack of social features. The final game will have plenty of them, but it would've been nice to have a better idea to see how they work. Luckily, Sony is offering a free version of this game at launch for PlayStation Plus, so you'll have more than enough chances to take it for a test drive.
We'll see how DriveClub holds up on the road when the game releases later this year alongside the PlayStation 4.