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Featured rFactor 2 Review: keeping up with the times?

Discussion in 'rFactor 2' started by Alex Franchini, Jul 7, 2015.

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    We wanted to take a look at rFactor 2's status in 2015, three years after the release of the first open beta. ISI's new title was initially surrounded by mixed reactions, but what's the story after so many updates and new content releases?

    First things first: rFactor 2 is daunting. The sim's main strength - that is, the incredibly wide range of options and variables - can feel a tad too much for the newbie. There really is a lot of stuff to delve into, not only in terms of gameplay and simulation options but also in terms of mods and configuration files. Do stick with it though, because there's gold to be found in rFactor 2.

    So, let's start with the surface, that is the graphics. I personally doubt the average simracer cares much about graphics, but after mainstream hits like Project Cars and Assetto Corsa, it's hard not to take this aspect into consideration. Well, it's not bad! RF2 can be pretty system-intensive, so Joe Average will probably have to dial the settings down, but it looks pretty decent. While not the best-looking racer by a stretch, it's perfectly capable of painting great racing scenes. It does look more natural than the first builds, as well.

    Some circuits are clearly simpler and outdated, but the developers are currently working on revamping the older tracks in the roster, as well as updating the cars - which brings me to the meatier stuff: the car roster. The game content has to be downloaded through rFactor 2's fantastic launcher and content manager, but the dev team has apparently switched to a new content format, so some older cars have to be downloaded from the official website. ISI is in the process of updating those to the newer format, making them available from within the launcher, however, there's no ETA yet.


    One of the main flaws is that the content is kind of sparse, and always has been since launch. I believe a real-world racing series would gain rFactor 2 quite a bit of visibility, but it seems that ISI is indeed working on that. We have in fact managed to obtain pre-release access to the Stock Cars, and those certainly represent a positive step towards a more focused content roster. The dev team has recreated the 2015 NASCAR season with three different car models, obviously with fantasy car names and teams.

    And oh boy, are the Stock Cars a blast. They only have four gears, but are capable of ludicrous speed and acceleration - oval racers will want to keep this in their radar. They also sound positively raucous and brutal. At the moment, only Indianapolis and Mountain Peak Speedway are suitable for the Stock Cars, but we could assume ISI is working to add more locations to go with them.

    Circuits share the same philosophy as cars; they're diverse, if a bit sparse. The more recent releases are very high-quality, with very detailed trackside areas and landscapes: they're functional and look good in most circumstances, which is what ultimately matters. There's something intoxicating about ISI's replica of Monaco '66, and that circuit manages to exude a lovely vintage atmosphere – along with being an incredibly fun layout. It's more or less like the current street circuit, but faster and more streamlined.

    Special mention for Lime Rock Park, which is just a great circuit that goes well with many of the official cars, and the newly released Atlanta Motorsports Park - a very original and technical addition to the roster.


    On-track, any notion of content lacking focus is immediately forgotten. This is where rFactor 2 really shines: the detail of the Force Feedback model is immediately apparent. While I've read many people say that FFB response is something subjective, and I tend to agree, there's a degree of nuance here that's hard to replicate in other simulators. Behind the wheel, it's always easy to know what the car is doing. Users with older wheels will have to tone it down a notch to avoid jolts and clipping, but after fiddling a bit with the configuration files (something rFactor 1 players are familiar with) it won't be an issue at all.

    The FFB works in tandem with the game's dynamic road and weather features: driving on worn tires or on a wet patch of road will have noticeable effects on the steering. I don't feel the need to spend many words on the Real Road feature as well, as it's pretty straightforward and it's something unique to the game. It just works, and it adds another layer of strategy and detail to the simulation. Additionally, ISI is working on a revamp of the weather system, also adding more visual effects (like water on the windscreen, which is oddly missing here).

    RF2's main selling points are online and endurance racing. However, the game's online focus doesn't detract from the AI, which is quite simply the best around. While titles like Stock Car Extreme and Raceroom feature very good CPU-controlled opponents, this winds it up a notch. I've seen AI cars battle at the Monaco hairpin, exchanging clean passes and blocking, and it was absolutely brilliant.

    Obviously, its competitors are always evolving and getting updated too, but as it stands I'd argue rFactor 2 has the best AI and feature set of any sim. In terms of content, things are steadily improving, but its rivals have a bit of an edge here. Do note that some major mods like DRM and Enduracers are making its way to RF2, so that might spark a new surge in the modding scene.

    In conclusion, rFactor 2 does a lot right. If you have the setup, and the willingness to fiddle around a bit with configuration, then you'll be rewarded with an unique, and extremely rewarding, experience. And if you're on the fence, there's a pretty decent demo available here.


    Full disclosure: ISI has very kindly provided us with review codes for the game and pre-release access to the Stock Cars. I also haven't had the chance to test the netcode, as I've been having unrelated connection problems.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
    • Like Like x 17
  2. Tom

    Staff Emeritus Premium

    The only thing I don't like about rFactor2 are the somehow outdated graphics but the game itself is top notch. :thumbsup:
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Steve Bird

    Steve Bird
    Racing Since 1978 Premium

    How do you access the stocks then?
  4. They should be released to the public very soon as far as I know.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. +1 the game is great bit the graphics...
  6. Steve Bird

    Steve Bird
    Racing Since 1978 Premium

    Ah, thats okay then. I thought I was missing something.
  7. And the fact that most mods are just bad.
    Further i dont like that there are no working presets /G27 here
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. Dave Fox

    Dave Fox
    I get there...eventually.

    I love rF2,
    I love Assetto too,
    but rF2 is still untouched in the realism department imo.
    • Like Like x 4
    • Winner Winner x 1
  9. rFactor (1) had endless mods but only a select few were top notch for cars, and a few more for tracks. With the stakes raised given recent standards, it takes so much time to create something. I know rF2 may be tough to work with the new tire model but there should be a handful of prime mod selection by the end of the year.

    I really would like to see some of the current works for Assetto Corsa be released for rFactor2 as well, especially some of the currently WIP tracks. It's a bit too early still for AC but a couple of quality tracks and mods do exist, who knows.
  10. nice review and agree. It's very solid base, but it desperately needs more (quality) content. while it can look very good with injectors, it only helps on some tracks, because others are just old and need update, and no injector will change that

    but I guess since the base is quite solid now, they can focus on content more.

    it's really funny that - comparing it to AC - it's almost the exact opposite. AC has lot of great content, but lacks of many features, and it's physics isn't as deep.
    If those 2 sims would join into big one, using AC engine/visuals, but rF2 physics and race features + night/weather/live track, I think it would be a seriously grat sim.

    I do think though that it will be easier for rF2 to get up to AC level in the terms of content , then for AC to get up to rF2 in the terms of features.

    so, is it coming to steam? that would probably be the moment I will buy it, since I prefer to keep all the games on there, auto-updating and all that
    • Like Like x 4
  11. Peevee88


    I am becoming a big fan after years of letting rF2 gather dust - for too long I made the mistake of testing rF2 at Lime Rock which is a horrible version and always looked terrible - so woould do a few laps and quit the game for several months!
    Now I go to Sao Paulo and Indy Road version and these are pretty decent 'test' tracks
    Beware of third party tracks - I tend to only download version 1.0 or higher of addon tracks and sometimes these are horrible too.
    URD GT3 Mod is good addition for a bargain
    Right now Megane Trophy is my pick for a blast on most of the original tracks.
    Overall graphics suck but with a bit of work (Nvidia Inspector) to suit your rig specs is worthwhile - and the eye candy gets better with some tweaking- also framerates easily over 120fps with 29 AI everything maxed out with my NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
    Thing is that of late every time they add something or there's a new build there are noticeable improvements and this is very cool.
    Still work to do but it is getting there....
  12. I've only played the demo version and I loved it! I think it has the best physics, way better than Assetto Corsa.

    I'm waiting for the Steam release to buy the game with my regional currency... or at some point I'll buy the game anyway if there's a sale on its page. And yes, rF2 will be released on Steam - https://twitter.com/timwheatley1979/status/616285509837455360

    I made a custom ReShade preset for the game to make it look better, and I do enjoy it's graphics. Heck I even enjoy SCE graphics :p

    ^^^ This. Couldn't agree more, Patrik.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
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    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. Peter Stokman

    Peter Stokman

    Rf2 is getting better and better with every new build, imo more realistic then AC and far more then PC
    Really hope someone can and will convert the rf1 track "Mt Arrow Smith" into Rf2 , if you like 24 Nurburgring then you will love Mt Arrow Smith
    • Like Like x 3
  14. " I personally doubt the average simracer cares much about graphics,"

    I'm afraid I completely disagree with this. If we didn't care about graphics we would still be running our sims on 14" monitors at 320x200 resolution like we did 20 years ago. The GPL community must be considered as a pretty "hardcore" sim community but in the time I was involved from 1998 to 2005, the graphics of GPL were transformed by the community beyond all recognition.

    There is no conflict between wanting good graphics and wanting good physics or good AI or good netcode or good sound.
    • Like Like x 7
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. Disagree with need to fiddle especially regarding ffb clipping and jolting and need for file editing because can be adjusted via UI. Also would like to better understand how rF2 is behind rivals regarding content.
  16. The graphics depend a lot on the content. It doesn't look that bad and the graphics engine will keep improving

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    Last edited: Jul 11, 2015
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  18. Not any time soon, but it WILL happen one day! :D
    Will be using updated version of Mount Arrowsmith v2.2- BIGGEST problem is getting it to work with that 'Real Road' "feature"...
    Long tracks won't work in Gmotor2 title unless road panels are stretched/spaced futher appart & 'Real Roads' requires stupidly small panel lengths.
    But most of all, a system good enough to run rF2 is just too far out of my current affordability for this modder to consider at this present time...
    With regards, BLeeK(ii)
  19. Nordschleife by Tosch & DJC runs the realroad just fine though. Road mesh should be dense anyway to deal with the high fidelity physics of rF2. Most modded tracks from rF1 have awful precision (sadly) and you can feel it in the FFB.

    Regarding the graphics, it depends what type of sim racer you are. Most of the competitive simracers in FSR turn the settings down to achieve maximum and fluid FPS, they couldn't care less about graphics. I know because I've modded tracks, and the only feedback I get from the pros is if FPS is bad, they are not looking at the trees etc.
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  20. Most mods hey!

    No one can argue that there is bad content out there, but that's because it's so simple to convert stuff, muppets are doing it for a specific purposes (mainly leagues) and it's then shared around.

    To dismiss 3rd party content means you also deny yourself some of the very best content available.

    I have no idea what you are on about with G27 presets. Of course they exist and of course there are thousands using the G27 without issue... what's yours?