After 22 years, a new British Touring Car Championship game is finally coming. The game was recently announced by Motorsport Games, the team behind the NASCAR Heat series.
There are still so many questions to answer as the game is not due out until 2022. There are a few things BTCC fans are sure to want to see in this new release, the first BTCC-centric game since 1998’s ToCA 2 Touring Cars.
With the technology available nowadays, the scope for this game is huge. In 1998 the original PlayStation could only do so much, but with the PlayStation 5 now on the horizon, the potential is huge, it’s whether Motorsport Games can unlock that potential.
In the 90’s games, there was no fleshed out career mode. It’s been done before in games such as 2001’s ToCA Race Driver and Project CARS 2, the former even had the ToCA licence, but both were merely small cogs in a larger machine. This time with the support of Alan Gow and ToCA, Motorsport Games can really tailor this game to the BTCC diehards.
The options include starting in a test day and teams can scout you and sign you depending on your performance, or perhaps there is another option available.
Utilising The Support Series’
A BTCC weekend is so much more than just the touring cars. There’s also the Ginetta Juniors and Supercup, the new for 2020 Mini Challenge, British F4’s and the Porsche Supercup. Perhaps the career mode can have you starting off in a feeder series such as the Ginetta Juniors, and allowing you to progress up to the end goal of the BTCC. Again teams may scout and sign you dependant on your performances.
Alternatively you could just stick in the support series if they float your boat. The Ginetta series’ were in Project CARS 2 but as standalone championships, never have they been placed into a ToCA style package like we see in real life. Hopefully Motorsport Games have the access and ability to recreate the whole package, not just the BTCC.
Arcade vs Sim
Sim racing is growing, even more so after the Virtual F1 events we saw during Lockdown. But the balance between arcade controls and sim controls is a difficult one. Some games such as DiRT Rally and Assetto Corsa are built to be simulations, as close to the real thing as they physically can. Or we can see arcade style games, which cater to the more casual racers.
Motorsport Games have some tough choices to make, do they try and please everyone with an arcade style game, like the old ToCA games? Or, do they try and appease the diehard sim racers with a detailed, some would say tricky, game which mimics all the challenges of racing a touring car? There’s a chance they could try and merge the two, much like DiRT does, but it’s a lot more work for the developers.
As brilliant as the current crop of touring cars is, it’s important to remember the past and some of the amazing cars the BTCC has seen over the years. It’s a chance we could see classic cars such as the Ford Sierra RS500’s and Vauxhall Cavaliers of the 80’s, the Renault Laguna or the Volvo 850 Estate of the Super Touring era, or the dominant Vauxhall’s of the 2000’s. It could work like the Formula One games where the classic cars are integrated into the career mode in the form of invitational events. Where you can enhance your reputation with a team with a good showing in these one off events.
Capturing the Essence
The BTCC is a special place, the paddocks are all intertwined, the access to drivers from fans is much easier than the likes of Formula One. There’s a sense of bravado and camaraderie that is seldom seen elsewhere. It is vital for Motorsport Games to try and translate that into this new game, some would argue this is the most important aspect of the new game.
There’s nothing worse in a racing game than poor AI. Computer controlled racers who are soulless and stick to one line, regardless of where you position your car. Will the developers be able to accurately install the personalities of drivers into the game? The phrase ‘rubbing is racing’ is more prevalent in touring cars than most other format. Will the AI drivers give as much as they get in terms of close physical racing?
The world of esports is growing, it is a huge aspect of gaming nowadays. Can the BTCC game have an esports aspect? With Motorsport Games having the full backing of ToCA, they can work closely together to create an esports event, perhaps at the final weekend of the BTCC season, with a huge tournament and prizes on offer.
One of those prizes could be a test in a BTCC car. The BTCC have often offered incentives to people, such as Matt Neal’s famous 1999 win at Donington Park. Famous as Alan Gow had offered a prize of £250,000 to the first independent driver to win a race outright. If a team or ToCA themselves can front the prize of a test in a real touring car, the chances for anyone to enter the series is possible. Much like James Baldwin who is now a full time professional racer, despite his background being in virtual racing.
There’s so many questions to answer, and Motorsport Games will most likely give updates to answer any questions we may have. But the potential and hype for this game will only grow more as we reach the 2022 release date.
Image Credit: BTCC Media