Two days ago I was bored with Driveclub. Today each race is exhilarating, often terrifyingly so, and all that has changed is the weather.
Now that most of the connection kinks have been worked out, Evolution Studios dropped its promised post-release dynamic weather update on the PlayStation 4's once-troubled online racer, and it's pretty much the best thing that's ever happened to a racing game. Rather than setting the weather conditions prior to the beginning of a race event, turning on dynamic weather essentially creates a simulated weather system on the track.
Mind the driving. I'm using a game pad instead of my usual racing wheel. Instead focus on the water on the windshield as I plow into obstacles. See how it flows with sharp turns and impacts. It's beautiful.
One moment it's sunny. Then it's overcast. It begins to pour. The rain slowly comes to a stop. The sun comes out, and the roads begin to dry.
I created a custom race in Brazil with the cloud cover set to overcast, weather set to dynamic and the time dilation set of 60 — one minute equals one hour. Then I recorded 24 minutes of footage and sped it up. Don't worry, I turned down the music — dynamic weather has done nothing to help Driveclub's soundtrack.
This is much more than random weather effects. How fast they dry depends on a variety of factors — time of day, relative elevation of the track. On a Norway track during the day at lower elevations you might get rain or a wintry mix, as the weather forecasters like to call it. At night you're getting snow. Sometimes too much snow.
Here's one of Norway's tracks during the day. The roads are slick, snow and rain are falling. At one point the sun comes out briefly, casting a bright glare on the glistening wet road.
Now let's look at Norway at night. It's insane.
These are unsafe driving conditions. If snow started falling this hard in the middle of a real race — and it certainly can — I'd pull over to the side and wait it out. No use risking my life and my ride on some silly prize money.
With the addition of the dynamic weather system, Driveclub races now have the potential to be more thrilling and unpredictable than ever before. Plus it's so damn pretty that I've found myself setting up custom races just to drive to scenic locations and watch the rain fall.
This was worth waiting for. It doesn't quite make up for weeks of horrific connection issues, but it's an excellent start.