Assetto Corsa 2 is indeed coming in Spring 2024, and sim racers have high expectations. Here are some things the title must get right if it is to be as successful as the first.
Over the weekend, a Digital Bros financial report leaked that Assetto Corsa 2 is still scheduled for Q2 of 2024, essentially Spring next year. With around six months until release, the Kunos team behind the upcoming sim is sure to be hard at work.
The original Assetto Corsa truly put this little Italian studio on the map with its massively moddable creation. Today, the first AC has become something far greater than its developers could have imagined. Furthermore, its GT-only follow-up, Assetto Corsa Competizione has become the standard in online racing.
But as such a big name, Assetto Corsa 2 certainly has high expectations to meet with sim racers. So in order to not become a disappointment, here are the main areas Kunos must focus on to get right.
One of the main advancements for Assetto Corsa over the years is certainly the Custom Shaders Patch. Alongside the SOL weather system, it has transformed the title. Introducing a full day-night cycle with a realistically evolving night sky, wet weather driving and a whole host of car optimisations, CSP is a godsend for fans of the game.
In fact, one might dub Assetto Corsa a bad game in its vanilla state, without CSP. So the first thing Kunos must do with AC2 is to ensure everything one can do with Custom Shaders Patch features in the game.
In today’s market, day-night transitions, seasonal environment changes, realistic weather and detailed wet driving physics are standard. Indeed, every title on the market bar iRacing allows these most basic features. Even iRacing is pushing hard to implement rain.
But it is not just the overall sky and cloud system that needs work from Kunos. CSP introduces many improvements to the AC physics, graphics, audio, VR compatibility, cameras, replays, photo mode and so much more. If Assetto Corsa 2 is to meet expectations, it must come with as many Custom Shaders Patch features as possible.
Whilst the second of its name, Assetto Corsa Competizione is an untouched tribute to GT3 competition, the original AC is known for one thing: mods. Third-party content is so crucial to the title’s success that rarely will any player even use original Kunos content. As aforementioned, even the sounds and graphics are third party for the most part.
So with Assetto Corsa 2, Kunos will need to ensure modding is just as easy, if not easier than the first game. The first AC offered modders with SDK tools, allowing them to easily edit cars and tracks. This is something Straight4 Studios is seemingly doing with GTRevival, also set for a 2024 release, as Ian Bell confirmed in our interview with him.
To push things a step further, AC2 will want to provide the most comprehensive and easy-to-use modding tools anywhere in sim racing. Currently in AC, those with the technical know-how can easily access and tweak data files. This means setting up torque curves, tyre models and grip graphs is relatively easy. But with the second title, that needs to go further with perhaps in-game tools to alter visuals, audio and other elements.
If AC2 were to feature a track and car editor along the lines of the Gran Turismo 5 circuit editor or Bob’s Track Builder, fans would surely cry out in joy.
Great Underlying Physics
If modding is to once again form an integral part of Assetto Corsa 2, first party content must not be of concern. Instead, Kunos must put together the perfect base upon which the community can build. That means that physics and force feedback must be perfect out of the box.
The original Assetto Corsa certainly offered a great handling model in its time. Whilst the tyre model is now somewhat outdated with its single contact point and lack of flex, it provided a realistic and immersive feeling behind the wheel. Since then, the Kunos team has learnt a lot with its Assetto Corsa Competizione model, which recently received a major update further boosting the realism.
If AC2 includes ACC-esque physics elements with greater adaptability for the variety of cars modders are sure to create, it will give the new game the best chance. However, with the original Assetto Corsa’s Force Feedback proving popular even in today’s market, Kunos will have to work hard at providing fans with the best of both worlds.
As aforementioned, content should not be a focus for the Kunos team. The underlying physics and feel behind the wheel is what will make or break this game.
Better Gameplay Elements
Another element that is sure to prove crucial to Assetto Corsa 2 is its gameplay offerings. A sandbox racer, the original game gave players very little to do other than drive and set up their own imaginary events. What this upcoming game must do is give fans a reason to play other than just to drive.
The best way to gamify any title is by adding a career mode of some sorts. Now, in a game all about third party content, that is a challenge. In fact over time, every player will have a unique car and track list on their personal install. But if Kunos can figure out a solution to the problem, a career mode will give players a reason to come back.
One could certainly apply this idea to a ranked multiplayer system in the style of iRacing. But with the AC name best associated with a more casual approach to sim racing, would online competition suit? Perhaps not.
Elsewhere, there are many on-track features to improve upon from AC. The original game did not have class differentiation, nor did it have a rolling start feature or the ability to run timed races. These are all standard features every game should offer in today’s age. Anyone looking to run endurance races offline runs into all of these issues. But there is another problem to encounter in Assetto Corsa: the AI. That too will need a big push for Assetto Corsa 2.
A reason to jump ship
Not only does Assetto Corsa 2 have to manage and meet expectations, it also has a fierce rival to beat. The success of its first game is sure to be Kunos’ first hurdle when releasing this new game.
Featuring more content than anyone can realistically download and a larger community than most other sim racing games combined, there is little reason to stop playing the original Assetto Corsa. As such, Kunos must be creative if it is to draw fans away from its old game and divert them to the new. Indeed, a more up-to-date title is unlikely to hit the mark. Just look at the community still hopelessly devoted to GP Legends.
Previously, we touched upon the issue of AI in the first game. If Kunos can create a ground breaking AI that races well and is still adaptable enough to make for easy modding, this may well be a good place to look. However, judging by the lack of progress made from AC to ACC, there is little hope.
Maybe the ultimate way of grabbing attention with Assetto Corsa 2 is to redefine what the AC name is. Rendering the past 1000-odd words redundant, perhaps it is time Assetto Corsa dropped the modding approach. In fact, a different selling point may attract fans to the title without dissolving the original AC community. What that would be, we cannot begin to think. But to break the community away from the first game, a major shift will be necessary.
What are you expecting from Assetto Corsa 2? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!