Sim racing seems to be in a great place as we head into the second quarter of the year, so we thought it's a great time to have a look at what we have in store in the coming months... Already into the third month of 2017 and we've had plenty happening in the world of sim racing. We've heard the announcement of GTR3 and DiRT 4, seen numerous substantial updates for mainstay sim games Assetto Corsa, RaceRoom Racing Experience and Automobilista and seen plenty of preview details for a number of the top titles planned for the year ahead. Sometimes keeping track of everything in the pipeline can get a little difficult and details get missed / overlooked in the rush of the developers to keep the attention of our sim racing community. Well it's a quite night for sim racing news and I'm feeling the need to write something so it seems like the timing is perfect to have little look ahead to what new games we have in store during 2017... With so much in the pipeline for this year where better to start than the AAA multi platform Project CARS 2: Developed by the same team at Slightly Mad Studios who brought us 2015's best selling Project CARS, the second instalment to the franchise is scheduled for release during September 2017 and looks to take the best elements of the first title and expand substantially for this new game. With more top quality graphics, more premium brand cars and more tracks than has ever been released on a console racing game, Project CARS 2 will surely be aiming to take over top spot in the console racing marketplace. It is the PC audience that could well be more challenging to satisfy come release day, as the original game fell short of expectations in several areas with a crowd used to the more sim focussed experiences found in such title's as Assetto Corsa and rFactor 2. SMS are seemingly looking to address these concerns with the new game as well as improving on the already standout aspects of the previous title, namely it's class leading graphics engine and weather effects as well as an impressive array of big name manufacturers and real world circuit locations. Project CARS 2 will look to incorporate over 170 cars on launch, including a franchise first inclusion of the legendary Ferrari and Porsche brands alongside already known models from Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Mercedes and BMW. You can check out our regularly updated list of known cars HERE for details as and when they become known. Other new for PCARS 2 features look set to include a substantial reworking of the way online broadcasting is presented within the game and ranked player ratings. So far this title looks like it could well become one of the standout success stories of the year ahead, so long as SMS keep true to the promises and potential already revealed to date. Next up we have a look at the latest rally offering from Codemasters, the fourth instalment from the popular DiRT franchise. DiRT 4: With the standout success of DiRT Rally surprising many sim racing fans, and perhaps Codemasters themselves, it looks like the development of DiRT 4 is due to take a dramatic turn towards a simulation focus in comparison to previous DiRT franchise releases. Codemasters have gone on record numerous times since the game announcement to state that DiRT 4 will look to adopt and improve the simulation aspects of DiRT Rally, whilst at the same time adding many more diverse features and categories of racing popular from previous DiRT franchise games. Gone for DiRT 4 will be the 'dude bro' vibes of previous releases in favour of a more serious approach to off road racing, and the game will also benefit from the return of other popular classes such as dirt buggies and the FIA World Rallycross championship to compliment the main rally focus of the release. As can be expected from a new game, DiRT 4 will probably feature improved performance and graphics over it's older brother DiRT Rally as the studio gain experience in the game engine, the same as is used for the upcoming Formula One title. However one of the biggest things to be added to DiRT Rally that should help the title stand above it's immediate competition will be the inclusion of the revolutionary 'Your Stage' feature, a procedural stage generation tool that will allow gamers to create near infinite rally stages utilising the atmospheric elements of the five default environments included in the vanilla release. Unfortunately the FIA continue to ignore Codemasters undoubted credentials when awarding official WRC licences to game companies, so DiRT 4 will have to make do with a selection of older WRC spec machinery and vehicles from other loose surface racing series such as dirt buggies, rallycross and trophy trucks. With the studio track record in recent years it's almost certain the DiRT 4 will be one of the best rally games on the market come release this summer. Keeping with the theme of upcoming Codemasters releases, 2017 will see the eighth instalment to the Formula One franchise from the British developers. Codemasters started well with F1 2010 then found themselves somewhat stuck in a rut for the following years, producing roughly the same game with different cars and occasionally taking away key features and leaving fans of the premier racing series in the world wanting more from their virtual racing experience. Enter F1 2016 and what was widely considered to be the best release of the series franchise to date. Much improved over the previous titles, and still riding high on the success of DiRT Rally, Codemasters remain hungry to restore their reputation as one of the finest developers of racing games within the industry. Looking to act upon the feedback received from the army of Formula One fans interested in the digital franchise and keen to ensure the continual growth of the F1 series of games, Codemasters have been hard at work in recent months building a new game that promises to build upon the already solid foundations in place from the F1 2016. Although very little is currently known about F1 2017, my sources within Codemasters tell me that the new game will continue upon the path of off track immersion so prominent in F1 2016. Many fans seemed to enjoy the career elements of the last title, something missing from the 2015 edition, and the improved simulation aspects such as formation laps, manual starts and manual pitstops also seemed to provide positive feedback from fans. I have high hopes for the new release and look forward to seeing what Codemasters have in store for us. With Formula One in 2017 undergoing significant changes in the rules that govern the sport, it would be a perfect opportunity for Codemasters to put together all the lessons learnt since 2010 and really hit this game out of the park come release day. Hope springs eternal as they say... Now for something completely different... introducing Gravel from Milestone... It's like Forza Horizon, but with less content and probably not as much detail. A strange decision by the developers of the MotoGP games series and one that will be interesting to see how it develops over the coming months. Milestone have confirmed a few key details of the game following the announcement last month and to be fair to the game the technical side of the equation does look rather interesting. Utilising the Unreal 4 engine to ensure high quality graphics, and having secured some interesting manufacturer licences including the rumoured Porsche deal, it does appear that Gravel will at the very least be a visually spectacular release even if it does initially appear to be a knock off version of Forza Horizon on Xbox One. It does look like Milestone have aimed the new title more towards an arcade audience, although the developers are keen to stress Gravel will have physics "grounded in reality". Exactly what this means is obviously open to debate, it could mean you will have simplified physics with real world inspiration or it could simply acknowledge the fact that the game simulates cars with four wheels touching the floor, nobody really knows at this stage. One thing that can be said for the reveal details, Milestone have gone to great lengths to ensure potential players know the game has a strong focus of speed, visuals and a fun experience. It might not be something for the hard core simulation enthusiasts to get overly excited about, but it could prove to be an entertaining distraction for those of us already tiring of the offerings from the latest Forza Horizon release. Gravel is planned for release on Windows, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and should hit our shelves during July. Next on the list is the much anticipated and rather delayed Gran Turismo Sport from Polyphony Digital: The closed beta testing programme for GT Sport begins on March 17th so it does look like we might finally get to see the latest Gran Turismo offering at some stage this year, several months after the original scheduled release came and went without much fanfare from fans and industry insiders alike. Gran Turismo Sport is going to be a big release for Polyphony Digital as the industry giants make a move away from the traditional format of previous Gran Turismo releases. Gone for GT Sport are the long and tedious career car collection grinds of the past, to be replaced by a vastly expanded online career element to the title complete with their very own official FIA backing and racing licence rewards scheme, taking the place of the more usual single player car and credit collection of years gone by. What was once the staple diet of GT fans has gone sour in recent releases and has seen a gradual decline in quality for a series that rightly considered itself the very top of the pile for commercial racing game development over the last dozen years. With the marketplace now in a much more competitive position than was once the case, Polyphony and Gran Turismo needed to return to the drawing board in order to remain relevant to todays' gamers, and it appears that the Japanese studio have done just that with GT Sport. GT Sport will contain 140 road and race vehicles featuring brands such as Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mercedes, Toyota, Audi, Mazda, Nissan, Alfa Romeo, Subaru and Ford amongst other top marques from around the world. As well as the many real word road and race cars, manufacturers such as Bugatti, Peugeot and Volkswagen have submitted fantasy hypercar designs to create a "Gran Turismo Vision" set of performance Supercars. Accompanying the cars is due to be 19 tracks across 27 layouts including Nordschleife, Brands Hatch and a selection of different fantasy locations across both tarmac and loose surfaces. Officially endorsed by the FIA motorsport governing body, Gran Turismo Sport will have two FIA-certified online championship series. The Nations Cup is a competition where players will represent their home country and race against other national teams in a series of racing events as you aim to be crowned Nations Cup Champion. The other officially sanctioned championship focus's not on nationality but by manufacturer choice. The Manufacturer Fan Cup lets players select their favourite car maker to represent them in a series of events against other drivers in the games online environment. Making the most of the official FIA licence, the winner of each series will have the opportunity to attend the official FIA prize giving ceremony and pick up an award alongside real life motorsport champions from the various FIA sanctioned racing series! It is expected that GT Sport won't be the only big name console title coming this year as Microsoft look set to fire out Forza Motorsport 7, this time adding a PC version into the mix for good measure... Apart from a slip of the tongue by Fanatec CEO Thomas Jackermeier confirming 2017 will be the year of the seventh edition of the Forza Motorsport franchise, very little is know about the next offering from Turn 10 Studios at this early stage. We know that with the recent initiative from Microsoft to encourage players to sign up to Windows 10 means FM7 will be a first PC release for the main Forza franchise, but other than that it's a bit thin on the ground information wise at present. One assumes it's fair to say the latest game will continue the traditional gazillion car and track combinations and detailed offline career mode, however with a recent trend towards structured "eSports" multiplayer it would be a fool who dismisses the potential of Turn 10 to turn their not inconsiderable resources towards this growing trend in sim racing. With Project CARS 2 and Gran Turismo Sport already looking to make big strides in this department, it seems reasonable to assume that Forza will be keen to ensure they remain relevant in the genre and continue to explore new ways to engage players in a structured online environment. It will be exceptionally intriguing to see how one of the stand out success stories of the Xbox generation transfers to PC gaming when it launches later this year. With some serious competition on a PC platform more traditionally focussed towards a heavily simulation orientated audience, can Forza Motorsport 7 find itself a place within the genre, or will the ethos of car collection and shorter arcade races disappear off players radars as quickly as the tech demo FM6: Apex did last year? Only time will tell I suppose... Last and by no means least comes one of the games I personally feel most excited to see come to fruition, Reiza Studios as yet untitled 'Reiza 17' game... Well if we thought we didn't know much about Forza Motorsport 7 then we know even less about the new title due to be launched by Reiza Studios probably later this year. The initially titled 'Reiza 2017' game due to follow on from Reiza's current project Automobilista should most likely remain a PC exclusive release, and will in all likelihood be a sequel to Automobilista rather than a brand new IP from the Brazilian studio. We already know pretty much all the current content found in AMS will be transferred to the new game, plus a few additions, and the new title will feature a more modern graphics engine than is currently employed in AMS and their previous title Game StockCar Extreme. The strides made by Reiza with Automobilista have been remarkable in the last 12 months, and the studio have confirmed a lot of the work that has gone into game to present will be transferrable to the new title. Which is a positive for sim racing fans as a lot of the content within Automobilista is very well made and produces some of the best sim racing experiences currently available. Reiza have confirmed development with AMS will cease in the coming weeks as they push their full resources towards the new game, with a tentative early release scheduled for late 2017. It remains to be seen if this initial launch date will be a realistic target or not to be honest, as with only starting work in earnest this year it will be a big ask from one of the smaller sim racing developers to get everything in place and publically launched in the remaining nine months of 2017. Based on previous history with Reiza you can be fairly sure the new game will be closer to exceptional than not. Of course other games are lurking on the fringes of release like the on again off again KartKraft, ISI's "not rFactor 3" and maybe a couple we haven't yet heard about, so it looks like the future of sim racing remains as bright as ever. I can't wait Sim Racing is AWESOME! Check out our great sub forums where we cover a wide range of racing simulations across both console and PC. We have a section for Assetto Corsa, Automobilista, DiRT Rally, DiRT 4, Formula One franchise, Project CARS franchise, RaceRoom Racing Experience, rFactor 2, Gran Turismo and a variety of other games both old and new. We aim to offer you a place to consume the latest news, discuss the games with your fellow fans and take part is some brilliant organised club and league racing events. If you love sim racing as we do and want to get yourself more involved in the action, then head over to the forums now and see what you can find! Did you enjoy our recap on the news around regarding some of the upcoming games and features? What game / feature / update are you most looking forward to trying out for yourself? Let us know in the comments section below!