Come with us on a journey through the top sim racing game moments of 2023. In this first of two parts, we explore the standout topics from each of the first six months of the year.
Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to 2024, a year promising to be full of sim racing releases, top racing game advancements and, hopefully, without the controversy of 2023. Speaking of last year, we cannot simply let the year pass without taking a look back at what was an equally packed 12 months.
Over the next two days, follow our series of articles running through our standout moments of the year. In this first article, we will highlight the first six months of 2023. From revolutionary game updates to Esports controversy, January to June 2023 had it all in sim racing. These were our top stories.
January: Le Mans Virtual Kicks Off 2023 With Controversy
Despite the rather action-packed nature of 2023, there is no doubt that the year started slow. Whilst the majority of calendar months saw impressive announcements and game releases, just one topic occupied headlines in January of 2023: Le Mans Virtual.
The event took place on the weekend of the 14-15 January, fielding a collection of GTE and LMP2 cars on the rFactor 2 version of the Circuit de La Sarthe. As with previous editions of the race, the entry list attracted large names from both the motorsport and gaming worlds. Indeed, Reigning Formula One World Champion Max Verstappen lined up alongside his Redline teammates.
For the Dutchman, the race would not go as planned. The car contending for a win would suffer a disconnect after several hours. This led the Formula One driver to rant about the reliability of the rF2 service, and the overall event. This was not the only Le Mans glitch last year. As the above video mentions, the race server was attacked due to leaks on Steam.
Le Mans Virtual was not the only major Esports race to feature controversy in January of 2023. In fact, the Daytona 24 Hours on iRacing took place just a few weeks after LMV. This time, it was Williams Esports sparking debate via its questionable tactics used from start to finish. Check out our opinions on the Daytona race here.
February: Sophy AI Revolutionises Racing games
As aforementioned, 2023 was a year for sim racing game updates. One of the most exciting of which was surely the first inclusion of Sophy AI in Gran Turismo 7. An intelligent piece of tech that can perform and race wheel-to-wheel in an extremely realistic way. Whilst only featuring in a select number of challenges in its primary release, we were very excited by the addition. The same impressive patch included full PSVR2 support, something OverTake’s Michel very much enjoyed.
What got us even more excited was our very own announcement in February. This was the month that we announced the OverTake-RaceDepartment merger, kicking off an invigorating new journey for both sites. Since the announcement, our team has grown, and our content has improved.
March: iRacing Season 2 of 2023 Releases
It was from March that the sim racing world really picked up the pace in 2023. News pieces about the latest announcements filled front pages across the internet and hype built among enthusiasts for that next release.
These announcements included the likes of Automobilista 2 getting historic versions of Bathurst and the Nordschleife. Details began to emerge surrounding the now-delayed Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown. Assetto Corsa 2 rumours also started to swell. Finally, the biggest tease of them all would be just a month away from launch. Check out this video by Champion Joe to learn more about that.
The first major release of note was surely the Season 2 drop for iRacing. Bringing the now-popular Formula Ford 1600, it revolutionised the lower levels of the game’s single seater ladder. But it also gave endurance racers a handy new tool that puts an end to the strategic guess work. The Auto-Fuel feature now puts all racers on an equal playing field. So whether you are experienced or a newcomer to iRacing enduros, you no longer have to worry about fuel levels at pitstops.
March also pleased the sim-cade racer within us all. Forza Horizon 5 received its second major Pack. This time, the expansion focused on the world of rally. You can find our review of the Forza Horizon 5 Rally Expansion right here.
April: ACC Update 1.9 – Top Racing Game Moment of 2023?
There is no doubt that one of the biggest moments of 2023 for sim racing games was the 1.9 update to Assetto Corsa Competizione. With news lacking for months before the update Kunos pulled out all the stops for this sole patch to the game all year.
Released on 19 April to PC and 27 June to consoles, version 1.9 of ACC came with a major physics overhaul. From the tyre model to suspension interactions, aerodynamics tweaks and electronics enhancements. This update had everything to once again satisfy the community. Version 1.9 also released alongside the 2023 GT World Challenge Pack including three cars and the Valencia circuit.
April also saw Raceroom Racing Experience kick off its new content release schedule. The Racer’s Edge Pack would later be followed by a number of popular updates and content drops. AMS2 finally received its Historic Nürburgring, alongside the only first-party Südschleife in sim racing. From this point on, it seemed that 2023 would be the year of Automobilista 2 as many announcements would follow.
May: Racing Around the Isle of Man In-Game
In May, the racing game world took a step away from cars, instead going for a two-wheel jolly. In fact, the highly-anticipated TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 3 released on 11 May. With this new entry to the series, fans of the infamous race can explore an open world version of the Isle of Man. We certainly enjoyed it when we gave TT IOM: RotE 3 a go.
Aside from the short trip to the biking world, May also put an end to weeks of waiting. Rumours, anticipation and intriguing comments all built up hype towards the as yet unannounced F1 23. But it was on 3 May that EA Sports finally gave way and announced the latest Formula One game. Boasting exciting physics updates and a long list of new features, fans would not have long to wait until its launch.
June: Best Racing Game Month of 2023?
Yes, F1 23 released not long after its initial announcement. But first, the OverTake offices experienced a frantic first week or-so of June. Jumping into the month on 3 June, Rennsport launched its Closed Beta inviting the first few members of the public to try out its title.
Just two days later, perhaps the biggest news of the year emerged. Motorsport Games was finally looking to re-join the sim racing market with its FIA WEC game. Le Mans Ultimate was initially set to launch in December of 2023. But now, fans can expect its release for 20 February 2024. Not long after the announcement, we were lucky enough to try the game out at Le Mans itself. On 8 June, we got our hands on MotoGP 23, the latest official release for the World Championship.
As aforementioned, the rest of June was very much the month of F1 23. With release of the title on 16 June kicked off a long obsession. Be it for its much-improved handling or for its unfortunate launch state for many, F1 23 occupied our minds throughout the month.
Top Racing Game Moments: July-December 2023
Halfway through the year, and we are yet to touch on some of the most exciting developments for sim racing in 2023. Yet more impressive game-overhauling updates, hype-inducing announcements, attractive releases and of course the odd controversial story. The second half of 2023 was full of sim racing game moments. Make sure to check back in tomorrow for the completion of our annual rundown.
What was your favourite racing game moment of 2023? Let us know on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!