From esports events going down to the wire to lacklustre game releases, there have been a fair few ups and downs in 2021.
Photo credit: Codemasters / EA
For a number of reasons, 2021 has been a rather up-and-down year for many of us. This has been reflected in the world of esports racing as well, where there have been plenty of highlights, as well as a few lowlights. Here are some of the ones that we found most memorable this year, including racing game releases, esports events and more.
Highlight – The Return of In Person Events
How could we not include this on our list? In person esports events returned in 2021 for a number of competitive games, but what we in the simracing world particularly appreciated was the ADAC SimRacing Expo making it back onto the 2021 calendar as a proper, in person event. The event featured a number of hardware brands and esports teams, who all came to enjoy the atmosphere next to the legendary Nürburgring.
There was a bit of a lack of software on show, which was a touch disappointing, but for the first year back the Expo was more than encouraging. If you didn’t manage to make it yourself, you can take a look at our special Nitro Nights episode where we visited the event, and we even went for a spin on the Nordschleife!
Lowlight – F1 2021 Release is Plagued with Bugs
If you only play the Formula 1 games for the singleplayer modes, there’s a chance you managed to avoid the plethora of bugs that were part and parcel of the multiplayer experience. However, those of us who played online, and many of us that didn’t, will have experienced rather more bugs than one would expect from the official product of Formula 1 itself.
There were certainly some good aspects about the game as well, the additions made to My Team were significant, and for some the new story mode Braking Point was a great experience. However, we still found ourselves rather disappointed when we found a stationary car blocking the entire pit lane exit, or when we tuned in to watch league racing and found what can only be called an impressive display of what player desynchronisation can do to a race.
Highlight – Forza Horizon 5 Delivered
At the other end of the game release scale was Forza Horizon 5, which delivered a very good product from day one. Playground Games were the developers behind the open world racing game title, and they had plenty to live up to with the popularity of Forza Horizon 4.
The fifth game in the series brought us to the many biomes and landscapes of Mexico, from beaches to volcanoes. The level of compatibility with driving wheels was, in particular, a pleasant surprise for players who prefer a more sim-like experience. However, this didn’t mean that Forza Horizon 5 alienated its casual player-base either. Overall, the game was well received and with good reason.
Lowlight – Assetto Corsa Mobile
Perhaps it is the case that there weren’t many people getting their hopes up for the Assetto Corsa game that nobody had asked for – Assetto Corsa Mobile. Yet somehow, the game still managed to fall short of what little expectations there were. Uninspired and repetitive gameplay loops combined with poor driving mechanics left a lot to be desired.
The game development was outsourced to Digital Tales, meaning that Kunos Simulazioni themselves likely had very little to do with the game’s production. Hopefully this bodes well for Assetto Corsa 2, as the main development team’s resources seemingly weren’t taken up by having to focus on Assetto Corsa Mobile.
Highlight – F1 Esports Pro Championship Goes Down to the Wire
This wasn’t the only esports championship that had a thrilling conclusion, but it was the biggest to do so. With just one round, and therefore three races, to go in the F1 Esports Pro Championship season, there were still three drivers in close contention for the driver’s championship. Reigning champion and Mercedes driver Jarno Opmeer was the favourite to retain his title, but eternal F1 Esports bridesmaid Frede Rasmussen of Red Bull Racing Esports and the up-and-coming Lucas Blakeley were each still in with great chances for overall victory.
In the end, it was down to two of them by the final race at Interlagos, with Blakeley having suffered a poor result in Mexico. Rasmussen and Opmeer went head to head, but the Danish Red Bull driver qualified down in tenth. It looked like Opmeer would be able to cruise to the title, but Rasmussen’s teammate Marcel Kiefer emulated Sergio Perez in his fierce defence against the onslaught of Opmeer. By holding up the flying Dutchman, Kiefer bought time for Rasmussen to put on a charging drive to victory. But it wasn’t enough, and Opmeer just about held on to his crown at the end.
Lowlight – TMGL Scoring System Leaves CarlJr in the Cold
Finally we have the new scoring system which Ubisoft Nadeo introduced for the most recent Fall 2021 season of the TrackMania Grand League. This system saw multipliers being applied to the points totals of the winners of the last few races of each round of the regular season, and it was massively unpopular.
In the end, it resulted in certain drivers losing out on a number of positions compared to where they would have been under a scoring system without the multipliers. One of these drivers was Trackmania Grand League – World Cup and reigning Grand League champion Carl-Antoni ‘CarlJr.’ Cloutier, who failed to qualify for the playoff stage as a result of the system. In fact, the Canadian is due to fight it out in the relegation tournament to attempt to retain his place in the top flight of TrackMania competition. The good news is that it seems that the points system will change again for the next season of the TMGL.
What did you think were the highlights of 2021? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!