5 Things Le Mans Ultimate Needs to Get Absolutely Right

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Towards the end of the year, the long-anticipated WEC video game is supposed to arrive. Titled “Le Mans Ultimate”, Studio 397 and Motorsport Games' new game is looking like it is on track for a release in late 2023 - for the sim to be a success, it needs to get key elements absolutely right.

Image credit: Le Mans Ultimate

What we have seen is that Le Mans Ultimate (LMU) seems to be based on a modified version of the rFactor 2 engine. Keep that in mind.

1. Realism and Difficulty​

One of the biggest challenges that the developers are facing is the matter of balancing. I’m not talking about BoP (Balance of Performance) now. Fact of the matter is that WEC is increasingly popular nowadays. It seems the recent flooding of new car brands into the series has really helped the popularity of everything surrounding LMH (Le Mans Hypercar). Not only has the centenary Le Mans seen record viewership numbers, but attendance at other rounds also seems to be up significantly. This means that not only will sim racing veterans check out LMU, but also people new to the genre, possibly even new to video games.

The challenge is now to find a balance that allows both seasoned veterans of the genre as well as absolute beginners to find some common ground. And no, that doesn’t mean that professional drivers will have to be able to fight it out with 12-year-old keyboard warriors.

It has been announced that heavy beginner-friendly assists will be enabled. It remains to be seen how they will be balanced in order to not give an unfair advantage to people using them.

Le Mans Ultimate Porsche 963 Proton Competition Monza.jpg

The top-class Hypercars are complex, but they also need to be accessible in Le Mans Ultimate. Image credit: Le Mans Ultimate on Twitter

2. Balance of the Vehicles​

One of the biggest challenges that the developers are facing is the matter of balancing. Now I’m talking about BoP. The biggest question mark in this regard is what kind of balance they go for. In the IRL Hypercar class, we have seen many different competitive manufacturers battling it out for race leads. Toyota, Ferrari, Porsche, and even Peugeot sometimes showed enough pace to battle for overall victory.

And then there’s Glickenhaus, Vanwall and a few other small manufacturers trying to enter the class. Now, they are not quite on pace (yet?). So the question is, will they be on pace in Le Mans Ultimate, or will it be “realistic” in the sense that you can only win races driving Toyota or Ferrari anyways?

Personally, I would love to race the Peugeot around all the tracks, knowing full well that the car is competitive enough to make setups, strategies and driver skill the most important factors. But do the developers see it the same?

3. Balance of the Content​

Seeing as the game seems to be based heavily on the rFactor 2 framework, the question of modding is one that immediately crops up. The question that is not being answered at the moment seems to be:

Will Le Mans Ultimate OFFICIALLY support modding, maybe through the Steam Workshop?

The emphasis lies heavily on the “officially” as you might have realised by it being all caps and bold. Because let’s be honest. People will find a way to mod it, somewhat. rFactor 2 is the 2nd most used modding platform in the sim racing world. Furthermore, presumably, conversions from rFactor 2 mods to LMU won’t take too much effort. The only question is whether the developers want that to be the case.

An argument for it: It has been announced that Le Mans Ultimate will be live-service, as it will not follow a yearly re-release schedule like the F1 games. Instead, it’s planned to be more like rF2, AC, ACC, AMS2 and all the other good ones. Buy the game once and then it’s probably regular DLC. This formula would heavily invite some sort of modding. The key takeaway is that Assetto Corsa is still the most-played racing sim out there which is not called iRacing.

Also, it would just be easier to allow modding since the engine heavily relies on it anyways. So please, devs. Do the right thing.

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Knowing the base LMU is built upon, sim racers will expect outstanding physics from the new title. Image credit: Le Mans Ultimate on Twitter

4. The Physics​

Whatever you think about rFactor 2, you cannot deny that it’s got some great-feeling physics. The developers have to realise that expectations in this department are high. And since this is the case, the physics team will need to deliver something.

Look at it like this: rFactor 2 has a modding framework theoretically open to every kind of vehicle. With Le Mans Ultimate, it will only need to focus on two classes. Hypercar and GT3 should be focussed since WEC is dropping LMP2 starting in 2024.

This can enable the physics engine to deliver some quality of driving never seen before.

Can.

Remember that.

5. Arguably the Most Important: The Infrastructure​

What a boring word. Infrastructure. What could he mean?

Well, if you are anything like me and have at least loosely followed the Le Mans Virtual in 2023, let’s just say it could’ve run better.

Now whatever the issue was, Studio 397 and Motorsport Games will have to improve the situation. Le Mans Virtual has the potential to be the biggest marketing tool for the game. And if your main attraction fails to deliver two years in a row, you are going to struggle in the public light.

And if there’s anything these two companies don’t need right now, it’s another public heavy blow.

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Does Le Mans Ultimate pave the way to success for Studio 397 and Motorsport Games? Image credit: Le Mans Ultimate on Twitter

The Key Takeaways​

Le Mans Ultimate is a game that I have long dreamed of. Or at least it could be that game. Finally, the biggest race in the world receives its long-deserved virtual application. However, it is a make-or-break situation in many regards. The developers and publishers need to make sure everything is right. Every step needs to be carefully planned. Every decision needs careful thinking.

Let us hope they make the right decisions, for then we can finally have the long-distance endurance racing simulator many of us have long wished for.

Le Mans Ultimate is available to wishlist on Steam.

Your Thoughts​

What do you think are the most important factors to get right for Le Mans Ultimate? Let us know in the comments down below!
About author
Julian Strasser
Motorsports and Maker-stuff enthusiast. Part time jack-of-all-trades. Owner of tracc.eu, a sim racing-related service provider and its racing community.

Comments

Authentic and competitive AIs are essential. Especially thinking the multiclass behavior in blue flag situations. A wish of a sim reflecting as close to real world handling here.

Authentic detailed trackmodelling and conditions, and here I'm thinking track surface and curbs at first hand and scripted weather conditions reflecting real venue, the latter should be easy cake with rF2 as base engine.
 
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Modding is a non-issue. When I buy these sorts of games I expect the game to be ready for me, with the content there and curated. If it were AC2, fine, but it's the devs' responsibility to have the content and the gameplay ready, and not just 'physics'.

Releasing a game like this is different than releasing a sim. People will have expectations on how it plays, and what's more important is how it represents the sport first. Modding is a second thought.
 
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well....UI and if we do a 24 hour race lets hope there isn't the need for 3 server restarts in the course of it...
 
The option to save mid race. I think rF2 already has that feature, or am I confusing it with something else?
Nope, that feature is there called resume from replay. The problem is that it doesn't save a few things like tyre state or damage according to my knowledge. But as there seems to be a cooperative feature in the works they might have worked on that aspect a bit more.

What I would like to see in the sim:
  • all the stuff that makes WEC and Le Mans what it is that isn't in rF2 allready like ...
  • a populated pitlane
  • advanced AI (partially working right now but needs more finetuning and features like better strategy, hybrid usage, fuel management etc. - just some variance but in the bounds of common sense)
  • a fully working rule system with Code 80, FCY and multiple SC
  • offline championships (maybe with stuff like a driving school like in GTR2 or testing days like in Le Mans)
  • more detailed damage modeling
  • tyre punctures and limited tyre sets
  • cars getting dirty
  • random weather option, real weather plugin integrated
  • easy pick up and play MP with easy hosting
  • further down the line some interesting DLCs, that blend into the offline part of the sim
Should be a piece of cake ... :p
 
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Premium
I am cautiously optimistic about this. Despite the fact I rarely have time for sim endurance races, they are by far my favorite discipline within sim racing.

My hope is that over time they add historic Le Mans content. There are so many amazing vehicles that raced throughout the ages, that it would be a shame to not include some.

Yes modding is great and welcome, but if we could have a full, or nearly full grid, of certain time periods that would be amazing. Obviously to accommodate this right they would also need a historic version of Le Mans.

Best of luck to those working on it. I hope it's great.
 

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    Votes: 298 34.7%
  • Eurosport app/website

    Votes: 241 28.1%
  • WEC app/website

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  • Watch party

    Votes: 67 7.8%
  • At a friends house

    Votes: 23 2.7%
  • At Le Mans

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