Can you believe its August already? It’s now officially closer to Christmas than the start of 2016. How time does fly when you aren't paying attention. With Summer in full swing for most of the world (and England having the odd nice day too), I thought it would be an interesting time to have a look back on our 'Sim Racing 2016 - What We Know So Far' article to see what’s come true, what’s vanished off the horizon and what we never saw coming back in May. We predicted back at the beginning of the year that 2016 was going to be a mega time for sim racing and RaceDepartment, and so far I think that optimism has been borne out. Already in the eighth month of the year, with some goodies still on the Forza Horizon, lets break it down and see what we find: Automobilista Motorsports Simulator (AMS) The guys over at Reiza Studios continue to deliver a quality sim racing experience for the crowdfunding-backed Automobilista Motorsports Simulator. Back in May AMS was hot news, fresh off the back of an incredible crowdfunding campaign, the team over at Reiza had just brought the new title into the Steam Early Access programme with limited content and a few fairly major enhancements over its predecessor, Game StockCar Extreme. Three months on and AMS continues to over deliver on its initial promise as the game very quickly develops into one of the hottest and most complete racing simulations available at present. Although still using the early rFactor gMotor engine, Reiza have taken advantage of the full licencing access purchased from ISI and pushed the boundaries of possibility far wider than anyone could of predicted given its' relatively outdated software base code of rFactor. As well as working on many features and enhancements to the core game and FFB properties, Reiza have been hard at work building up the content in AMS to slowly diversify the game and move it further away from its initial Brazilian routes. AMS now incorporates a wide variety of unforgettable content from early 1960's spec Formula One machinery to the wild and unforgiving Stadium SuperTrucks and everything in between. AMS is now very close to reaching version 1.0 release with a respectable DLC lineup planned for the coming months. Tipped back in May to make a splash in the sim racing world, AMS is already over achieving its original aims. The fairly recent liverygate affair has done little to dampen enthusiasm for a sim that continues to go from strength to strength. Automobilista still has plenty to offer in 2016 prior to further news about the new, as yet untitled, offering from Reiza Studios in the next couple of years. KartKraft I labelled this one as "Perhaps one of the most anticipated titles to be discussed amongst sim racing fans in recent years", but sadly the Australian studio are seemingly failing to deliver on the early hype around the game. Many delays have hit the title since its initial conception several years ago under its previous guise of KartSim, and KartKraft is still not ready for public beta release, despite a proposed launch in July this year. Indifferent community communication and long periods of radio silence have only served to frustrate those with an interest in this game. Black Delta Studios will do well to consider how community communication is handled if the game is to thrive in such a niche gaming community. Despite all the difficulties mentioned above it does seem that development of this title is slowly progressing and the screenshots released so far indicate KartKraft will be a visually impressive game once it hits general release, but when that will be is anyone's guess. With little in the way of market competition with regards to a next gen karting title, KartKraft could well become a popular choice for online racing and for those with a taste for pure motorsport. 2016 should be a big year for the game as it makes its public debut and despite a difficult and sometimes poorly managed communication strategy, the game still remains a potential highlight release this year. DiRT Rally We touched on the subject of Evolution Studios joining up with Codemasters back in May and the fruits of that new relationship have yet to be seen in 2016. While the two studios settle down and work on new projects, Codemasters flagship release of last year, DiRT Rally, has continued to go from strength to strength. Although light on new content, the game has successfully launched on consoles and a recent patch update brings one of the finest Virtual Reality experiences in the racing genre. Widely regarded as an outstanding implementation, the recent VR update for DiRT Rally has left many fans raving about the transformation it brings the title. A couple of new cars on the Rallycross side of DiRT Rally have helped keep fan interest, but many believe Codemasters need to bring new content to the title in order to prolong the shelf life of a game that still heads the top of the rally charts, by a long way. Assetto Corsa Well it's been a much bigger year for Assetto Corsa than we could possibly have imagined back in May. At the time we were excited to see what the Japanese DLC pack would have in store for us and discussed the delayed console release of the title, but it looks like the team over at Kunos had far more in store than anyone would care to believe back then. The shock announcement of a Porsche licence and future DLC's are perhaps the main highlight so far, but let us not forget the sim has brought us a new laserscanned Grand Prix circuit and a couple of modern Ferrari Formula One machines to enjoy in the past weeks. The very recent Red Pack DLC introduced the 2013 and 2015-spec Ferrari Formula One cars as well as the legendary Maserati 250F Grand Prix car from the 1950's. As part of the licence agreement with Maserati the recent update also shipped out a four wheel drive SUV for the first time in its history, proving the versatility of the game engine developed by Kunos Simulazioni. It's inclusion has however left many simracers confused as to why an SUV is even in the game in the first place and will likely be a 'drive-once-and-never-touch-it-again' jobbie. Still, plenty of work has been completed under the hood of this title in recent months with some vehicles benefitting from a new version tyre model, with all GT3 cars due to receive the tyre upgrade in the upcoming 1.8 release. Kunos seem to be on a roll at the moment and things look like they can only be getting better towards the end of the year. Recently the studio have hinted at significant optimisation improvements that should boost performance for many players, allowing more and more people to enjoy a visually impressive title currently gathering momentum and getting better and better with each release. We thought the future was bright back in May, well, it's better than we imagined! Racecraft We hinted at the time that our readers will get an opportunity to win some Racecraft beta keys, and we recently delivered on that promise with our Vae Victis Games Community Q&A session. If you missed it first time, take a look at Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview to find out more about what the future holds for this new title. Development is still ongoing with Racecraft as the game looks to find its feet in the racing game genre, with some interesting takes on the traditional concept of racing games this could be a fun title to enjoy in the coming months. The developers are looking to break away from just open wheel formula cars in future releases and night racing is already under development, this could be one to keep an eye out for those with a desire to move away from the more simulation orientated titles currently on the market. Racecraft has had a strong start to 2016 and with a continued focus on e-sports could well build on its initial popularity into the fall of the year. RaceRoom Racing Experience Progress within the core RaceRoom Racing Experience programme has tailed off slightly in the last few months, with fewer new features hitting the game in place of more new content from the various official licences acquired by Sector3 Studios. Although 2016 has seen many core improvements such as setup saving, pitstops, improved front end screens and various major and minor bug fixing, the title still lacks many of the main features expected of a racing simulation in 2016. To make up for the often slower-than-desired feature releases, the Swedish studio have been producing an impressive amount of new content in recent months with many considering the mighty GTR3 class one of the most comprehensive of any sim. Licences for the KTM X-Bow, Mercedes AMG GT3 and BMW M6 GT3 have been announced since our May feature and many models are still awaiting joining the game (such as the Audi TT VLN beast), RaceRoom are doing a commendable job with a title that is often difficult to develop behind the scenes. Widely considered as the gold standard for GT content and ingame sounds, RaceRoom does seem to have lost some visibility as 2016 rolls into the end of summer and a big announcement from the studio could go a long way to bringing this often underrated title back to the forefront of gamers minds. Forza Motorsport 6: Apex Well, that didn't work did it? Imagine you have an uber popular racing game franchise on your hands, selling millions of copies each release. You have loads of cars and licences, massive budgets and teams of skilled professionals working for your company. Imagine then you decide to break into a new marketplace where sim racing is taken to extreme lengths, where gamers are known to enjoy the many aspects of sim racing, be it peripheral wheels and button boxes, Virtual Reality headsets, racing rigs or just customising the gaming experience to provide the ultimate in immersion and realism. Imaging then in order to break into this new market, you take all the successful ingredients from your popular franchise, and remove most of them... Take out those hundreds of cars and just leave a few. Remove wheel support. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Forza Motorsport 6: Apex for Windows 10. Pretty lame by Turn 10's standards and worth every penny of its free price tag, Apex is possibly the biggest disappointment of the year so far. Ok it allowed the studio to test the technology and prove future releases can work on Windows, ok it was free and a first effort, but really Turn 10 need to work much harder to crack a market that usually looks to the more serious side of racing to fill its needs. Not a great start. Formula One 2016: The Game Codemasters are making some pretty serious noises about the new for 2016 Formula One game from the studio. Already on the second year of the new game engine, the latest inclusion into the long running franchise looks to be in every way a step up from the progressively more disappointing titles produced under the official F1 licence. F1 2016 will feature a sizable offline career mode spanning a full 10 seasons as well as the reintroduction of the in-game Safety Car. The Virtual Safety Car (VSC) also makes its debut for the new title as does the ability to jump race starts along with manual control of the car when entering the pit lane. Unfortunately as soon as you enter the pit lane, the computer takes control of your car... still. Formation laps are another new element of a game that looks to be making strides towards a more simulation aspect than previous versions editions of the franchise. The graphical and physical characteristics of F1 2016 already seem much improved over previous editions, maybe this time Codemasters have got something right and Formula One can finally have a game that it deserves. Due for release in August, time will tell if Codies have done enough to win back much of the community support lost in recent years. Forza Horizon 3 Forza Horizon 3 has shown up somewhat out of the blue since the beginning of the year. Looking to be double the size of its predecessor and expanding on the core gaming experience of previous releases, Horizon 3 should be the most substantial installment of the Forza Horizon series to date. Obviously Horizon does not pretend to be a fully-fledged simulation title, it does however off a wide selection of vehicles to enjoy and should present some pretty spectacular visuals based in the Australian outback and urban city environments. Horizon 3 will be the first "proper" Forza release available to Windows 10 PC players and it will, if nothing else, provide an interesting case study on how Turn 10 produce racing games away from their traditional hunting ground on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. NASCAR Heat: Evolution Another title that didn’t appear on our radars at the beginning of 2016 was NASCAR Heat: Evolution. Many sim racing fans hope the latest in a long line of NASCAR title's will mark a triumphant return for Monster Games, the studio making a return to the NASCAR scene after a decade long absence. Due for release in September this year, early indications suggest the new title from the developers behind NASCAR Heat and NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona should be a marked improvement over recent sub-standard official games for the series. Time will tell if Evolution has what it takes to overthrow the StockCar content in iRacing and/or rFactor 2 as the leader in StockCar racing, early signs suggest it might be a close run thing. RaceDepartment Leagues and Clubs It's been an incredibly busy time here at RaceDepartment so far this year with various professionally organised leagues run across a number of platforms alongside an ever increasing number of gamers enjoying our selection of club racing events in all the top racing simulations. New for 2016 has been an increased volume of our league and club racing events receiving the live stream treatment, benefiting from professionally presented coverage our live stream races are proving to be quite a hit within the community and add a little bit more glamour to our regular racing nights. We have also recently run the latest season of the ever popular RaceDepartment Touring Car Championship in Automobilista. Season 10 of the RDTCC was run using the brutal Aussie V8 racing car from Reiza Studios and produced plenty of thrills and spills to keep drivers and fans entertained throughout the series. Keeping with AMS came the light hearted Mini Challenge league, providing some great door handle to door handle fun amongst packed grids and high quality Teamspeak banter guaranteed. The rFactor 2 club has seen a bit of a resurgence lately with the very popular and highly competitive RD IndyCar World Series enjoying its maiden season here at RaceDepartment. Fights to the flag and last lap battles have been no exception this season as Frederic Schornstein heads into the final rounds with a slim championship lead. Over in Assetto Corsa land, the first ever Mazda MX-5 Cup is shaping up nicely and providing many high quality on track fights for the drivers (and spectators) to enjoy. Finally a big shout out to all our new Twitch followers this year! Your support means the world to us and its great to see so many of you follow our live stream league and club racing events! Thank you! Seriously, simracing is AWESOME! Roll on the rest of the year and beyond. I can't wait! Make the most of the remainder of the year, go find yourself some fun in one of our many racing clubs across all the top sims out currently! Face up to rivals on track in the Assetto Corsa Racing Club, go door to door with your buddies in the rfactor 2 club, join in the massive grids for RaceRoom Racing Experience and share some laughs with the folks over in the Automobilista racing club. None of those tickle your fancy? Well, take a tour of the pCars Racing Club for regular events, go open wheel and try your hand in our F1 2015 club, do some old school rFactor 1 historic racing or sideways off road action in the DiRT Rally Club. The choice is yours and all are a great way to make the most of your sim racing experience! Has 2016 lived up to your expectations so far? What has been the highlight for you? What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year? Have you got any stand out moments from this year you wish to share? Let us know in the comments section below!