The latest update presented another big step forward, especially for singleplayer sim racers – here are our Top 5 Automobilista 2 v1.5.3 improvements.
Back in July, Automobilista 2 made great progress with the release of its v1.5 update. Conflicting sets of data had caused issues with the tire model, which Reiza Studios managed to fix for the most part. Now, with update 1.5.3, this was developed even further – but that is far from all.
In fact, Reiza has been hard at work regarding multiple facets of the sim. This time, improvements focused on the singleplayer quality of life, groundbreaking content and a bunch of smaller fixes. All of this led to a much more consistent experience across the various tracks and cars. Here are our Top 5 Automobilista 2 v1.5.3 improvements.
1 – Physics
The biggest step forward in v1.5 were undoubtedly the physics. While v1.5.3 did not advance things by as big a margin, improvements to the tire tread behavior further refined the physics. Of course, this is always subjective, but most cars behave much more like they should as a result.
While some cars still handle better than others, the overall experience in AMS2 has become much more consistent. Gone are the hit-or-miss days that sim racers already experienced in Project CARS 2 that runs on the same engine. AMS2‘s version of the ever-popular GT3 class will likely not fully satisfy the hardcore fans of that category that races them in other sims, but in other classes, the sim really shines. Enthusiasts of historic open-wheelers should be in heaven in Automobilista 2, which neatly leads us to our next entry.
Top 5 Automobilista 2 v1.5.3 Improvements: 2 – New Content
Entirely out of left field, Reiza showed brand-new cars in their latest dev update. Representing the 1992 and 1993 Formula One seasons, two Formula HiTech generations include the McLaren MP4/7A and MP4/8. This not only makes AMS2 the sim for fans of F1 in the 1990s, but also actually introduce a feature that has never been in first-party content in sim racing before.
The early 90s were full of technological advancements, and 1993 is generally regarded as the peak of high-tech F1 cars. Active suspension played a big part in that – and it has been modeled for the new cars. While only a few of the 1992 vehicles sport the system, the 1993 grid is fully equipped with it – and other gizmos. Traction Control, ABS, Launch Control and automatic gearboxes are all on board. More on that later in our Top 5 Automobilista 2 v.1.5.3 improvements list.
Meanwhile, the Historical Track Pack Pt 2 DLC presents even more opportunities to accurately recreate races of the past. Interlagos’ layout may not have changed significantly since the early 1990s, but having the 1991 and 1993 versions – the only occasions when the legendary Ayrton Senna won his home Grand Prix – available adds enormous amounts of immersion.
Alongside them comes Montreal 1991. It may not seem like there is a difference to the 1988 version already present in Automobilista 2, but flatter kerbs in some spots as well as a tighter final chicane introduced for the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix make for an experience that is different enough over a lap.
Similarly, the original layout of Barcelona-Catalunya in its 1991 guise is mostly the same as today’s after the removal of the chicane in the final sector. However, Campsa and the following Nissan chicane were much faster back then, so having this configuration available is a nice addition for setting up historic races.
3 – Active Suspension & Authentic Driver Aids
Combined with the different engine configurations of early 1990s F1, the addition of active suspension and other electronic driver aids makes for grids with different strengths and weaknesses. Plus a great soundtrack, of course, as Reiza has also reworked some of the external sound samples to be more lifelike.
Active suspension tries to keep the car at the same ride height throughout a lap to stabilize the aerodynamics as much as possible. Back in the day, this was programmed individually for every circuit. Automobilista 2 makes it possible to adjust it via two settings, either in the setup screen or even while driving in the In-Car Menu.
This results in a much smoother ride and also opens the door for the predecessor of DRS. By lowering the rear of the car, the rear wing produces less downforce and drag – perfect for speed boosts on the straights. It does not disengage automatically, though, so drivers have to be aware of this.
Meanwhile, the concepts of ABS and Traction Control are likely known by all sim racers by now. However, Launch Control is a bit different. Basically, it takes care of the race start automatically. All the driver does is hold down a button and the throttle. Once the light turns green, the let go of the button and the Launch Control makes for a clean start, even taking over upshifts until the first time the brakes are engaged.
How To Use Auto Shifts
Since the auto gearboxes seem to be confusing to some, here is how they work. By default, automatic upshifts are enabled. You can change this either in the In-Car Menu, or in the setup screen. Should you prefer to change gears yourself, you can switch the system off entirely. The other options only engage downshifts automatically, or both up- and downshifts.
This is very much in line with how the real cars raced. The automatic upshifts have the theoretical advantage of always engaging at the ideal RPM. Short-shifting is still possible, though, as the driver can override the system and engage shifts themselves. This is also possible for downshifts or with the full-auto gearbox enabled.
The system has also been added to the Formula V10 Gen 2 cars, as they are representing the 2001 F1 season. Initially, driver aids were banned from 1994 until 2001, but from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards, Traction Control, Launch Control and automatic upshifts were allowed again.
Top 5 Automobilista 2 v1.5.3 Improvements: 4 – AI
As already mentioned, update v1.5.3 focuses on singleplayer improvements. A big part of this is the AI. While the computer-controlled opposition had been serviceable for good racing in some combinations before, others did not work as well. Crucially, the AI difficulty settings led to wildly varying results, meaning players had to readjust it frequently.
Over the past months, Reiza has worked on remedying this to polish the offline experience. And they certainly succeeded. For example, full-length Grands Prix are now perfectly possible. Before, the AI would sometimes not pit despite their tires being worn, so they would just keep going at an incredibly slow pace. Now, they do use pit strategies that acutally make sense.
Additionally, they race much better. Of course, they are still not perfect, and are somehow very slow in the corners of the newly-released 1991 version of Barcelona. But if you treat them with respect and a bit of caution, they actually make for a very fun and engaging offline experience now. An obvious area for improvement are blue flags, however. The AI does not seem to know what they are and do not get out of the way when getting lapped.
Combined with the numerous skin packs and AI files available on RaceDepartment, the AI can even show driver-specific behavior. Alain Prost’s AI counterpart will likely take less risks than Ayrton Senna’s or Juan Pablo Montoya’s. Remember to set AI Aggression to High for this to really shine through. The Max setting will make every AI driver equally aggressive.
Top 5 Automobilista 2 v1.5.3 Improvements: 5 – Wet Weather Racing
Finally, to round out our list of the Top 5 Automobilista 2 v1.5.3 improvements, the spotlight is on the weather. The LiveTrack component of the Madness Engine is very potent when it comes to simulating racing in the rain – but that has not fully shone through until v1.5.3. Now, AMS2 very much changes that.
Racing sims still struggle to properly implement a wet line. In short, racers do not really need to avoid the previously rubbered-in racing line once it starts raining in most cases. In real life, this would be a terrible idea, as it would become very slippery.
AMS2 already had a fundamental mechanic for this in place with v1.5, but it only became really noticeable in the latest update. While not perfect, there is a noticeable loss of grip on the racing line, usually resulting in understeer. There were a few hairy situations in a test race at Catalunya 1991 we encountered because of this.
Additionally, the AI finally behaves better in the rain. As they do run on a different physics engine to save on CPU resources, they previously could keep on racing almost as if it were dry. Now, they behave more believable in the wet and tend to avoid the dry racing line. Overall, they still seem to have more grip under acceleration compared to the player, though. Still, it is in a much better place than before.
With the offline singleplayer in a good (but not perfect) spot, the multiplayer aspects of AMS2 are going to need some love soon as well. Reiza has stated before that they want to address the online part of the sim, and their implementation of multiplayer logging to identify problems strongly hints towards improvements to come at some point.
And it is much needed. As Reiza admitted in the past, AMS2 online is not up to its best yet. Players keep reporting issues, and some functions are not there at all – which Reiza will likely change eventually.
What are your impressions of Automobilista 2’s v1.5.3 update? Are you excited for a sim that actually aims to provide a great singleplayer experience as well? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!