Automobilista 2 has always suffered with issues with its engine. But with a recent update, the AMS 2 physics have seen large improvements. Here’s why the game deserves another chance.
Last week, Automobilista 2 received a sizeable update, bringing the simulator to version 1.4.8. Adding the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya and a definitely-not-Indycar open wheeler to the game, the update has plenty to please the fans.
But, perhaps more exciting for those that have given the title a miss over recent months, are the numerous physics tweaks. A selection of cars, mostly of the single seater variety, have received major refreshes to their handling models. This list of racers is set to preview major updates coming to every car in version 1.5 of AMS 2.
As the bulk of this new update acts as a preview to the huge changes coming in a few weeks’ time with version 1.5, this is the perfect opportunity to judge the title’s progress. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the update impacts the game and why it’s worth giving AMS 2 another chance.
AMS 2 Update: What’s new?
Work towards the 1.5 update for AMS 2 has been ongoing for several months. In fact, developer posts from the end of last year mentioned a flat-out push to improve that title’s handling. Prior to this push, the team would make changes bit by bit as part of each minor update. But last year, the team announced it would reserve physics updates for major game refreshes, such as the upcoming 1.5 version.
This particular update, version 1.4.8, is a preview to version 1.5, releasing within the next few weeks. With the physics changes, Reiza has reportedly focused on the way the SETA tyre model interacts with the ISI PMotor model. In fact, blending elements from the Madness engine and Automobilista 1‘s ISI engine has seemingly caused some conflicts.
Whilst tyre model improvements are a large part of version 1.5, they can’t be truly implemented until its full release. As a result, this is one change that won’t fully see the light of day for another few weeks.
Elsewhere, suspension spring rates and aerodynamic interactions are what feature most heavily in the newest version of the game. These are what aim to eliminate any of the strange losses of grip players may experience in higher downforce models. This is just one of the many complaints fans have about the title.
The main complaint fans of the simulator have had since Automobilista 2‘s launch has been a fundamental disconnect with the road. The tyres never seemed to stick to the racing surface in previous iterations which led to a general lack of grip.
Additionally, with a Project Cars-esque softness to the suspension and chassis of each car, the front and rear axles seemed to have minds of their own. This felt most prominent and strangest in high downforce cars. Suddenly finding the rear end stepping out in long, high speed sweepers was always an odd feeling. But to then be able to hold a slide in a formula car was simply immersion-breaking.
Clearly then, Automobilista 2 was far from sim racing excellence, even in its most recent state. But the big question is whether the most recent update is cause for celebration or concern. In short, it’s a bit of both. Here’s why.
Does the Update Work?
Among the cars featuring the new physics are several open wheel cars and a few prototypes. In each case, there is clearly a focus on the interaction between downforce and low-speed grip. In fact, all Formula Retro, Classic and USA models, the Formula Junior, Ultimate and Inter as well as the P1 cars now run on the updated handling model.
Jump in any of these cars and you will soon find some minor differences in handling. The obvious improvement has to be at higher speeds when downforce takes control. One can feel the car weight better under aerodynamic pressure and the strange slides are seemingly a thing of the past.
The downside to the new AMS 2 update however is that the rear end still seems to wallow at lower speeds. The game still feels as if the rear end is on caster wheels. You can turn in to a corner and the front will grip as you’d expect. But the rear feels like it continues on the normal trajectory for longer than it should. The rear wheels seemingly don’t follow the front end as they would in real life.
This mind-bending disconnect isn’t helped by the tyres retaining their lack of overall feeling. Whereas slick tyres in real life – and most other simulators – feel rigid and stiff, AMS 2’s tyre model is still full of flex. Sure, some flexibility in the tyre carcass is realistic. But when it feels like the rim is losing its rubber, it doesn’t provide any sense of immersion.
Because of this exaggeration, one lacks any sort of feeling through the Force Feedback. The only positive is that now the game doesn’t kick downforce cars into extreme levels of oversteer at random moments, it doesn’t require quite as much rear end feeling to save said slides.
Whilst this may not sound particularly positive, it’s clear that changes are incoming. Furthermore, Reiza has said that game-wide improvements are inbound for version 1.5, set to release in another month or-so. These general refreshes will also have an impact on the tyre model, so we shall see how things feel by the end of July.
What do you make of the latest version of Automobilista 2? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!