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 Some circuits are clearly simpler and outdated, but the developers are currently working on revamping the older tracks in the roster, as well as updating the cars - which brings me to the meatier stuff: the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.