Hearing “racing games” will most likely make us think of cars – or vehicles in general, really – duking it out in various sorts of tracks. It’s really a straightforward process, wherein the fastest car wins. Taking it literally, that’s how races – and therefore racing games – should work. Thing is, this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, game devs and publishers have made games quite the exciting concept. We have games where gamers become professional racers, or gamers become wanted underground racing fugitives. In some games, gamers become an Italian plumber throwing blue turtles while riding a kart. Is this where racing games end, though?
Not on our watch. As gamers, we love to see game devs and game creators try their best to spice things up in their respective genres. And in this case, racing games shouldn’t really be any different. Here are some features we can’t wait for publishers and developers to add to racing games:
- Make the racer more relevant to the game. The idea of customizing vehicles is an awesome way of giving autonomy and personality to racing games. These customization options give players the chance to give their cars their own identity, and feel like they themselves are driving them. However, perhaps racing games can take this concept further by actually allowing us to customize drivers themselves. They can apply simple customization options of driver bodies and appearances, or even have driver “statistics” that can change the way cars perform.
- We can actually make the player racer another “statistic” that can affect racing games. When drivers perform well in matches, they earn “experience” they can use to improve and enhance skills that, in turn, enhance cars to some extent. Not only does this mean players can improve the characteristics of some cars, but this can give them motivation to try customizing cars of other “types” in order to try how the player racer “benefits” affect vehicles in the race.
- Alternatively, we can also have player racers possess special “skills” that can buff their vehicles or debuff enemies during a race. These can be in the form of skills that suddenly forces cops to join the race, or forces rain to occur, or even to summon random obstacles once the lap is finished.
- Make tracks more volatile and interactive. Tracks in games often serve two purposes: one is to let gamers know which way to go, and the other is to be hit when gamers go the wrong way. Games can make tracks more exciting by making them more volatile and interactive. We don’t necessarily mean add hazards or crazy power ups, but rather little intricacies such as weather actually affecting performance, or random obstacles appearing just to switch up the dynamics of the game.
- Games like Burnout Paradise and Forza Horizon 4 make great use of terrain and weather conditions, although they don’t affect performance “too much.” And this is a feature that’s been added to some games but we recommend a lot more other games adapt and improve upon. It’s also recommended that these games have weather systems that can change on the fly, and not just change “per match.” This gives players an extra challenge as they don’t know what environmental effects can affect their vehicles’ performance.
- There should also be a way to interact with elements in the tracks more realistically. Instead of just “picking power-ups” or “hitting random boxes,” we should be able to add road humps in residential streets, and even traffic blocks that aren’t “indestructible.” These add a lot of options to how racers can perform in matches.
- Make tracks customizable and editable by players. In speaking of tracks, another fun feature racing games can add is the ability to create, customize, and release tracks they’ve made for games. This adds a whole new community element that can make racing games a new mode to have fun and share challenging and complex tracks for people to enjoy. This also helps make racing games more replayable and enjoyable by a ton more audiences as they can now customize and have fun in tracks they themselves created.
- While not exactly “customized,” #Drive for the Android is interesting as its tracks are all procedurally-generated. Meaning, you’ll have a completely new experience every time you play the game. This makes for amazing replayability, and you can actually test out your skills as there’s always a new map waiting for you.
- Some free online car games also feature some level of track customization, but fairly limited given their situation as casual games. Once game devs start the tradition of allowing players to customize their tracks, we may see this feature arrive in other games as well, be it heavy-duty titles or simple and more casual entries.
- Make stunts more accessible to vehicles. When it comes to racing games, we often only either race or perform basic stunts like drifts and dives when there’s ramps around the track. However, these don’t really “spice” up the track and the experience. A better alternative is to actually make stunts more accessible to gamers, perhaps by making environments and controls more volatile and interactive, or even by adding elements to the track that allow us to perform stunts as well. This can add a ton of fun and a ton of flow to the race.
- Dirt Rally 2 and Shift 2 test the boundaries of stunt driving and complex controls, respectively. In Dirt Rally 2, the game lets you focus less on racing and instead on pulling off great maneuvers. Meanwhile, Shift 2 makes it challenging (dare we say, realistic) to drive cars on tracks. When these two concepts combine, we have a potential to create a challenging racer that’s open to a ton of stunt opportunities. That’s because “missing” a turn or even turning the vehicle “wrong” can force the game’s physics to spiral out of control and create amazing and fun stunts. This not only challenges players, but motivates them to experiment with the game’s physics. In speaking of physics,
- Project Cars 2 and TrackMania 2 are polar opposites on the “crazy riding” spectrum. While Project Cars 2 is also reliant on technical driving, TrackMania 2 is the manifestation of every Hot Wheels fan with its crazy tracks. When both game concepts are combined, we can actually come up with racing games that feature great physics that can interact a lot more smoothly with crazy tracks. This can make for more fun experiences.
Feature Perfect: The Next Awesome Racing Game
With the above in mind, you might think we can get a bit demanding asking for a ton of awesome features in car games. Thing is, there’s actually a ton of untapped potential in racing games that devs and creators really ought to try. From customizable drivers to more in-depth story modes, it’s quite exciting to wait for and see what upcoming racing games have to offer to longtime fans of the genre.
If you have any comments and other suggestions for racing games, feel free to add them in the comments!
Guest article written by: John Salazar is a certified techie-at-heart, but he shares a love for all things science and technology, health and wellness, and even a bit of music on the side. As a creative writer, John makes sure to write both informative and entertaining pieces. He loves writing, and he plays the guitar when he has free time.