Earlier this week, Evolution Studios’ PlayStation 4 racer Driveclub received a big content patch adding in extreme weather effects. I decided to patch up the game and login to check out how much of a difference the new effects make.
They are, in short, stunning.
While some gamers might gripe about the 30 frames per second the game is locked to, the game is such a treat to look at that it hardly bothered me.
The game already sported, at launch, a dynamic time of day and volumetric cloud system. This works in conjunction with what Eurogamer‘s Digital Foundry column calls an “extremely robust lighting system” that includes realistic global illumination and physically-based illumination – meaning it tries to replicate the interaction of lights and materials in real time, rather than baking them in. As I noted in my review, it looked very nice already.
The easiest way to see the weather effects at work is to get out of campaign mode and just do single races. You can pick your track and car as usual, but you also get to pick the time of day, cloud cover, and amount of precipitation.
Once you play through a course with heavy precipitation, though, it becomes immediately apparent just how good the effects look and how much they add to the game. Driving in the snow at night through a point to point course in the Norway environment is, quite honestly, terrifying and tense. It’s like driving in a real snowstorm, except you’re going 70 instead of 15 miles per hour. In the rain, you’ll watch water bead up realistically on your windshield. Your wipers take the water away, but if you take a hard turn, you’ll see the water streak in the appropriate direction back across your windshield.
One interesting decision the team made is that, even in third person, the rain still gets in the way, collecting on the camera instead of the windshield. As this is a highly social game with strong multiplayer elements, this makes sense. It allows all different play styles to work with the same amount of interference.
The way the water moves, blurs vision, and streaks on the windshield are all nothing short of incredible.
I want to be clear here and say that it doesn’t fix the issues I had with the game at launch. Online is up and running and works now, but I’m still disappointed with the progression system and lack of Japanese cars. I also find the driving itself not to be quite as smooth as its competition over on the Xbox One. But visually, Driveclub is going to be a hard game to beat.
Evolution Studios has taken an already great-looking game and made it stunning. If you want to give your PlayStation 4’s hardware a workout, Driveclub is the way to do it.