To say that Driveclub didn’t have the best launch would be as much of an understatement as suggesting the Titanic was lightly scratched by an ice cube. Initially a launch game for the PS4 and a much vaunted marquee title as part of the expansion of PS Plus, the game was hit with two delays, controversy over the contents and conditions surrounding its ‘free’ PS Plus offering followed by server issues at launch that weren’t resolved for 4-5 months, leading to an embarrassing 8-month delay to the free version for Plus members. It didn’t help that it was released at the same time as Forza Horizon 2 dipped into view and made a very good impressions with its open world driving.
Now, though, Driveclub has blossomed from its ugly, lumpy caterpillar stage into a beautiful, aerodynamic butterfly and is actually delivering on the promise it showed at the PS4 launch event. Starting with the obvious, racing has never looked so good; there’s still no racer with cars that looks so good (Nissan even mistakenly tweeted a picture of an in-game car as if it were real) in such a wide range of settings, while the dynamic weather effects are second to none. It is quite simply beautiful.
The progression system came under a bit of scrutiny on release and that still holds true to an extent; it’s decidedly old-school in the way it takes you through events and races, not focusing on a bigger picture and feeling disjointed. It would maybe have been nice to put a spotlight around the stunning tracks and scenery and keep you in that location a bit longer so you can learn it. What it gets wrong in progression it ultimately makes up with its social element; challenges and clubs. Challenges are simple to issue and are fun to take part in, while clubs are also easy to join and as there’s a maximum membership of 6 people, you really do feel like you’re contributing to improving rank and earning bonuses.
The post-launch support has also been very impressive, with a good amount of free content as well as a very reasonably priced season pass (partially due to the issues at launch). A bikes expansion has also just been released which does a remarkably good job at giving a good biking experience, something even dedicated games can’t manage.
At the end of the day, Evolution have made the best of a bad job and have turned around what was fast becoming a joke into one of the best console racers we’ve seen in a long time, rivaling the Forza Horizon series and GRID. With the support the game still has it’s worth keeping an eye on, but this is a no-brainer for any racing fun who likes a slightly arcade-y feel