RENNSPORT Summit | Hands-On First Impressions

RENNSPORT First Impressions 01.jpg
A few members of the RaceDepartment team were recently invited to Munich to try out the as-yet unreleased RENNSPORT racing simulator. Here are some impressions after driving an alpha version of the title.

Myself and two others from the RD team were fortunate to have been invited to Germany for the hands-on premier of RENNSPORT. We were able to spend three days learning about the project from the key stakeholders behind the sim, as well as spend several hours driving in it. Here are my impressions based on this alpha version.

Graphics and Sounds

The use of Unreal Engine 5 for RENNSPORT seems to have been a good decision. The team behind the title began their work on Unreal 4 and adapted it to UE5. The results so far seem encouraging. The parallels to Assetto Corsa Competizione are obvious, but the colours in RENNSPORT seem less vibrant and perhaps more realistic in the current build.

The sounds are good, though not on the level of ACC or RaceRoom at this stage. The infamous 6th gear whine of the Porsche 911 GT3 R is present, which is certainly a good sign, but the in-car knocks and bangs that pull the player into an immersive driving audio experience aren’t there yet. Tire-related noise was also absent or set very low in the mix. It’s evident at this early stage of development that a complete and immersive timbre is not yet present, but RENNSPORT does show promise.

Driving Physics

RENNSPORT will ultimately be judged by most of us based on how it drives. Most attendees at the Summit event were eSports professionals rather than media, and these pros put the title through a test over the weekend, and it ultimately passed the test.

The feeling of the three cars on offer so far, the BMW M4 GT3, Porsche 911 GT3 R and Porsche Mission R, behaved in a manner similar to other titles like ACC and RaceRoom. There was plenty of grip available, and a good sense of connection to the road. Car setups could not be adjusted, and ABS and Traction Control systems were forced on. These electronic assists yielded inconsistent behavior, but didn't ruin the overall enjoyment of driving.

The physics weren’t perfect, of course. Two obvious quirks of the title so far are the very lively handling of the cars mid-corner, and the quicksand-like curbs in many areas around the Hockenheimring. But generally speaking, the sim seems to be built on a solid foundation. Most attendees were able to connect with the cars quickly, and the physics were consistent enough for the pros to begin chipping away at small fractions of seconds over time.

RENNSPORT First Impressions 02.jpg


Content

At the Summit event players only had access to three cars and two tracks. The two Porsches and the BMW were available, along with Hockenheimring and the Goodwood Hill Climb. A Q&A session at the event opened the discussion of whether RENNSPORT would be limited to GT only, and the team stated that future content is very much undecided, but open wheel cars are certainly a possibility.

Perhaps more interestingly, there was confirmation that the ambiguous marketing statement concerning "digital ownership" was not in reference to conventional NFTs. The door was left open for unique content to be used through the title, meaning that a specific car that was used to win a high-profile sim racing event could be bought and sold, for example.

There are still many looming questions about this facet of the title, and we are far from having a complete picture of the available content at launch or how the economy of unique content will work. The limited cars and tracks we’ve been shown so far seem to be nicely detailed, so we can hope that this level of quality is carried forward to whatever is brought to the title in the future.

Force Feedback

Like the driving physics, the force feedback shows promise. The event was largely centered around 12 high-end sim rigs that offered VRS direct drive wheelbases paired with load cell brake pedals, and these rigs were well tuned for the current build of the title.

In other areas of the venue, however, Fanatec DD2 bases and a CSL DD were used. The differences in force feedback were noticeable in more than just strength and speed. As this version of RENNSPORT was an alpha build, the different bases yielded varying results in smoothness as the SDK was not yet finalized for all Fanatec wheelbases.

At its best, the FFB was informative and offered a good sense of connection between the car and the road. Assuming that all major wheelbases will be aimed to get as close to the feeling of the VRS or DD2 bases, this should be a great feeling title by the time it gets released.

Multiplayer and Broadcast

With 70 elite sim racers present for a hotlap tournament and multiplayer racing, plus several media outlets present to report on the state of the title, the pressure was on for RENNSPORT to perform. And it performed well, with no major complications or delays being reported through the three days of testing.

Participants in the hotlap tournament or multiplayer races logged into their respective rig by scanning a QR code using the RENNSPORT app on their smartphone. This was used as a game profile and tracked each racer’s statistics and placing. It worked well, and the on-track action was similarly successful.

While battling with multiple cars on track, players at the Summit experienced a consistent collision model that allowed for close battles. The server was in the building for the event, meaning that ping-related multiplayer issues could not be tested, which will be a significant question to be answered as development progresses.

There was no evident car damage model, but a penalty system was in place that punished jumping the green light at the race start, passing a car while off the track, or cutting corners.

Similarly, the broadcast system was utilized for the event, and picking up live feeds either in car or from trackside cams to stream to the large overhead screen seemed to run well.

RENNSPORT First Impressions 03.jpg


Conclusion​

In conclusion, the Summit event seems to have been a successful showcase of RENNSPORT, especially considering that it won’t be in public hands for at least another 18 months.

There are bugs or imperfections in nearly every facet of the title currently, but generally speaking the RENNSPORT team seems to have established a firm base on which to build a solid racing sim.

Be sure to let us know what your own impressions are of RENNSPORT based on what you’ve seen to date in the comments below and make sure to join the RENNSPORT community.
About author
Mike Smith
I have been obsessed with sim racing and racing games since the 1980's. My first taste of live auto racing was in 1988, and I couldn't get enough ever since. Lead writer for RaceDepartment, and owner of SimRacing604 and its YouTube channel. Favourite sims include Assetto Corsa Competizione, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista 2, DiRT Rally 2 - On Twitter as @simracing604

Comments

Oh, I did. But the inclusion of blockchain related content immediately made this game utterly unappealing to me.
Then its a bit weird that you put effort into commenting about it when you already made up your mind. Not that you can't, its just strange.

Regarding the game, i need to see more and play/test it myself. I don't know how much these Youtubers can be trusted. If you are flown out there, getting wined and dined i can imagine you tend to want to say rather positive things about the product as you like being invited to stuff also in the future and dont want to be "the negative one". So i take whatever all of them are saying with a huge grain of salt for now.
 
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Premium
From a couple of videos I’ve watched it sounds more like they are going to be setting up a marketplace where modders/Rennsport can sell stuff. That doesn’t make those items NFTs or have a requirement for them to be on a blockchain. Whether you want to pay for that stuff is one thing but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a load of compute power is going to be wasted in supporting them.
 
Thanks for the report but it's a bit short for a 3 day event? Surely there's much more to the Q&A to report on?
 
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Premium
I don't know how much these Youtubers can be trusted.
You should never base your opinion on what others say about products. Just try the game yourself when it's released, or trial it beforehand on an event or so and make your own judgement. You can never go wrong with that approach. :thumbsup:

In the Rennsport case there weren't that many Youtubers present really, literally just a handful versus close to 90 esports racers who were testing the game through its paces.

I am not sure if my questions during the Q&A sessions have been recorded by the RENNSPORT crew but I have asked a few that were not related to esports and more focussed on the remaining 99,99% of us who are not esports professionals. Besides the "bottom of the esports iceberg racers" I think modders can potentially be really happy with this sim, especially seeing that parts of the (management) team have a proven track record in games such as .... ArmA, which is a hardcore simulator with mod support.

It's too early to say as this was just a first introduction and the game is not finished but if they connect the dots this has a lot of potential.

What I took away from this all? I am absolutely in love with the graphics of Unreal Engine 5 and I applaud the team for taking a massive risk on reputational damage of bringing so many people to a game that is still in full development. Really love that open approach.

Thanks for the report but it's a bit short for a 3 day event? Surely there's much more to the Q&A to report on?
We have not been asked to report on anything we have seen, tried or asked really. So whatever we decide to put out is our own editorial decision, that includes the form, shape, length and medium.

That said I am sure Mike will have something on his Simracing604 channel as well in the future and same goes for the likes of Gamermuscle, Chris Haye, Ermin Hamidovic, Overtake and Traxion.

What answers are you specifically looking for? Feel free to ask them here or post them in the RENNSPORT forum so they can be answered.
 
We have not been asked to report on anything we have seen, tried or asked really. So whatever we decide to put out is our own editorial decision, that includes the form, shape, length and medium.

That said I am sure Mike will have something on his Simracing604 channel as well in the future and same goes for the likes of Gamermuscle, Chris Haye, Ermin Hamidovic, Overtake and Traxion.

What answers are you specifically looking for? Feel free to ask them here or post them in the RENNSPORT forum so they can be answered.

I was simply expecting more information from the Q&A section; VR, AI, vision of the game, driving realism/aids, competition structure etc etc. Surely more was asked than just about NFTs!?
 
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Thanks for the honest summary Mike! No biases and open to what the future may bring. Can't wait for the beta reviews.
 
Just a little caveat in what otherwise seems to be a very positive start for RS, i would have liked them to have real drivers there, instead of just only gamers and youtubers, someone with proper seat time to give feedback, but i guess they might have that in the dev team, and this was just for the clicks and promotion...?

Anyway, looking promising.
 
considering that it won’t be in public hands for at least another 18 months, that leaves plenty of time for everything to change.
Looking forward to see how this new game develop into something of value for a offline VR sim enthousiast and what, if anything, it brings to the table that we do not already enjoy with present titles offering.
 
Just a little caveat in what otherwise seems to be a very positive start for RS, i would have liked them to have real drivers there, instead of just only gamers and youtubers, someone with proper seat time to give feedback, but i guess they might have that in the dev team, and this was just for the clicks and promotion...?

Anyway, looking promising.
David Perel was there. A few of the esports guys are real drivers too.
 
Um, let's not talk about multiplayer... if the servers are empty. But multiplayer races + AI would be a good compromise...
 

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