There are thousands of Assetto Corsa mods around from cars and tracks to skins. But this small app may be the game changer F1 fans are looking for.
Image Credit: Screenshot in Assetto Corsa
Assetto Corsa launched in 2014 and yet seems to be going from strength to strength. This is in large part thanks to a selection of game changing mods. Now, a fourth mod seems to be joining Custom Shaders Patch, SOL and Pure, this time focusing on the AI in Formula 1 cars.
The new collection of mods thought up, and created by games developer Schmawlik brings several changes enhancing the user experience both online and offline when it comes to racing F1 cars.
Formula 1, A Clunky Experience In Assetto Corsa
Over the past five years or so, major modding group Race Sim Studio has launched yearly models representing the current Formula 1 regulations in Assetto Corsa. Things started with the Formula Hybrid 2017 car showcasing the brand new, larger open wheelers we all loved in real life. And later developed into the complex 2022 iteration we know today.
A multitude of models to choose from, differing engine sounds and setup pages that require a university degree to understand. The most recent iteration of the RSS Formula car seems pretty complete. Though it’s the limitations of the near-decade old game that remove the cherry from the immersive cake.
DRS – or Drag Reduction System – is a system in Formula One that helps make overtaking easier. It has featured in the game since launch, but its implementation isn’t quite as fleshed out as we’d hoped. The DRS in Assetto Corsa can be used by anyone in the DRS zone, regardless of the gap ahead. This defeats the point, and creates endless so-called DRS trains. This, in turn, causes many a dilemma for those running leagues. ‘To enforce or not to enforce DRS rules, that is the question.’
Elsewhere, I think we can all agree one of the biggest aspects in F1 is tyre strategy. A driver attempting to stay on slower tyres for longer versus another one flying at qualifying speeds causing them to pit more often typically provides the best racing.
In Assetto Corsa, tyre and fuel strategy races are usually a challenge to get working due to the AI’s ignorance of the bigger picture of a race. As such, a common sight in the Kunos title is AI cars running tyres to the bone and ending up in a barrier by the side of the road. This doesn’t make for the most enthralling of offline racing experiences.
Race Rules and Racing Enhancements, the Best F1 mod for AC?
First posted to Racedepartment in July by its creator Schmawlik, the initial mod’s name was F1 Regs. This simple and effective title perfectly explains what the mod does in-game. Through the interface of an app and thanks to help from the creators of CSP, F1 Regs, now called RARE implements countless rules and features from Formula 1 into Assetto Corsa.
The headlining feature for RARE – Race Rules And Racing Enhancements – is certainly its excellent implementation of DRS for AI races. F1 Grand Prix simulations in AC used to be a frustrating train of cars inexplicably opening the flap in their rear wing. They can now become a strategic battle of race craft akin to races we’ve seen this year. Leclerc and Verstappen purposefully dropping back in search of DRS in Saudi Arabia. The same pair going back and fourth in Bahrain. These battles are now possible in Assetto Corsa.
At times, you’ll find yourself fighting to stay within the crucial 1-second gap needed to use DRS all while pushing to stay a second ahead of the car behind. The sinking feeling of seeing a rival drive up behind you with ease simply can’t be replicated without this mod. Finally, players can now understand the frustration F1 drivers feel having to wait until Lap 3 to make a DRS overtake.
Elsewhere, the RARE mod introduces a tyre wear threshold at which the AI will pit for new tyres. A sliding scale in the in-game app allows users to tweak the average tyre life threshold. In fact, all aspects of the mod are easily changed through the app.
New Immersive AI Enhancements
Other than the mod’s regulation aspect, it also has an impact on the AI’s driving at a more fundamental level. Until a recent update to the mod, this meant rival drivers would act more realistically in qualifying. What this means is that they would go for fast laps followed by slow in- and out-laps.
Unfortunately, this feature no longer exists due to AC’s AI not coping well with overtaking slow cars on track. Though the mod author has made it no secret they want to reintroduce the feature with the help of Ilja Jusupov, the developer behind CSP.
On a more functional note, the mod also features an AI aggression scale. This increases the AI’s aggression when sat behind a car for an extended period of time. As a result, you can expect to be divebombed if the car behind is faster but hasn’t managed to pass cleanly. This is very much a simulation of online open lobbies.
Big Plans In The Future: AC SIM
Schmawlik is in cooperation with the team behind CSP when it comes to adding features to RARE. That’s where the future of the mod becomes very interesting.
First of all, RARE joins a pair of other creations from the same author to become AC SIM – or Assetto Corsa Simulation Improvement Mods. This collection of mods combines to create an experience that places you behind the wheel of an F1 car.
The AC SIM collection also includes other a more informative wheel display for the RSS Formula Hybrid 2022. Extra button mapping possibilities to tweak brake migration and differential settings on the fly is the final element to the pack. If this sounds familiar, it’s because these are important features in Formula 1. The F1 games by Codemasters also implements this very well into its titles.
While this collection of mods seems to be growing, it’s the new features set to join RARE that are exciting. In cooperation with the Custom Shader’s Patch team, many AI-controlling lines of code are set to make F1 racing even better in Assetto Corsa in the not-so distant future.
On the Racedepartment forum page, Schmawlik explains plans to introduce Virtual and full Safety Car periods.
They also detail how an upcoming release of CSP will help introduce wider of tyre strategy possibilities into races. Currently, the app forces the AI to pit when its tyres get to a certain level of wear. Each car fits a fresh set of the same compound as the previous stint. This doesn’t allow for the strategic soft, medium and hard compound choices we see in the real sport.
Finally, it seems a total AI overhaul is on the horizon for RARE and AC SIM. Schmawlik mentions that the long-term goal is to “create custom AI to provide better racing, tougher battles, and less crashes.”
That certainly sounds like quite the undertaking. But seeing as how the mod only released fully, leaving its alpha build in early-November and has already grown massively, I think it’s safe to say we can look forward to a revitalised version of Assetto Corsa very soon.
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