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NASCAR 21: Ignition Review

As we’re unable to review NASCAR 21: Ignition as this point, we invite you to share your own thoughts in a review thread for this title.

We spoke with Motorsport Games and were told we'd be receiving a review key for NASCAR 21: Ignition before release, but we’ve yet to receive it. For better or worse, Ignition has become the hottest topic in sim racing. As we're unable to share a formal review at this point, we want to use this opportunity to encourage our community to share their thoughts and leave a public review of Ignition.

At the top of any of our reviews, there is a “Submit your review” button. We encourage those who own the subject of the review, whether it’s a game or a piece of hardware, to share their own review. Having community-sourced reviews allows potential buyers to see an average rating from fellow sim racers. Your review can be one word or a wall of text. It can agree or disagree with the main review from the RD writer. Most importantly, it’s a chance for you to share your thoughts and help others with their buying decisions.

And this is where we’ll leave the NASCAR 21: Ignition review at this time; in your hands. If you own it, click the button at the top of this article and share your review with us. Good, bad or indifferent, let the community know your thoughts on the newest official NASCAR title.

Or, if you’ve yet to buy Ignition, let us know in the comments below what’s holding you back.

EDIT - We received a key from Motorsport Games after this article went live. We will be able to form our own opinion on the title and update this review in the near future.
About author
Mike Smith
I have been obsessed with sim racing and racing games since the 1980's. My first taste of live auto racing was in 1988, and I couldn't get enough ever since. Lead writer for RaceDepartment, and owner of SimRacing604 and its YouTube channel. Favourite sims include Assetto Corsa Competizione, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista 2, DiRT Rally 2 - On Twitter as @simracing604

Latest reviews

Pros: Beautifully detailed environments
Great soundscape for what is included
Excellent dash cam view
No stage racing
Promising experience for the future
Pleasant spotter after the fixes
Cons: Unstable application
Missing tire sounds
Cars clumping at many tracks
Consistently problematic AI and scoring
Missing, incomplete or broken core features
This game is held together with bubblegum and dollar store glue, but I'm still enjoying it somewhat.
I'm playing a cut-down version of the game so far, with an Xbox One controller and moderate assists, maximum visual quality except for the post-processing noise to avoid blurring, no wear, no rules and penalties, races of 15% length. I can't imagine what it would be like to try to play this game as a serious role-playing driver experience.
I've rarely been able to complete two races without having the game crash, mostly while using Alt+Tab. The transitions between phases of play are uncertain or tedious at best, with the control of the car being relinquished to the driver at different moments, at different speeds, different gears, and sometimes face-planting into the wall.
Basically, every event that I play consists of 10 minutes of practice, qualifying, and then the 15% race. This creates smaller bites of the game to rediscover the tracks and the feel of NASCAR after skipping the two previous game platforms for the series.
The Charlotte Roval still sees the AI using the wrong line, and the spotter calls cars going the other way on the other side of the wall, and just like Indy Road Course, the qualifying position is not used for the starting position during the race. Very fun race going through the field to finish in the top 20.
The field at Michigan was spreading in various groups until I decided to pit by myself under green. The skip to pit transition seems to have grouped all the cars back together as if there had been a yellow flag when I got out of the pits. I assume the yellow flags were disabled by my options, but it's not clear anywhere.
The racing at Dover was very fun, lots of side-by-side action, with slow passing taking several laps, some odd pack racing.
The Indy Road Course has completely busted AI with an incredibly slow start, bad pace, and the qualifying not being applied, for an awful experience.
I gave up on Martinsville after not finding a way to adjust the gearing. I can't stand hitting the rev limiter twice a lap, it feels awful.
The pitting is different depending on the track and session, so sometimes you can drive down pit lane, sometimes it makes you stop right after the line and you respawn there after the pit stop, same with taking control of the car. The car setup is a simple slider between tight and loose, which works well enough for using a controller, but the in-race pit menu includes several adjustments, so who knows what's going on there...
This is the most fun I've had with a NASCAR game in a long time, and I'm confident that the extra year leading to N22 Reignited is what the game needed all along, so don't give up hope for the future. As it is, N21 is simply too broken to recommend buying to anyone, but the experience that I describe might just be enough for an eventual sale, especially if more fixes are brought to 21 during the development of 22.
Pros: The Physics are much improved
Paint Booth is much improved and is actually pretty good
The visuals and graphics are much better and capture the feel better than than the Heat games
The damage model is improved
Cons: It is buggy and glitchy
There is a lack of options
Yellow flags do not work right
It hangs and freezes a lot
It crashes to the desktop a lot
The Force Feedback is not great
Incredibly shallow and hollow career mode
When I first launched the game, it looked really good. The great music and soundtrack match with the improved opening cutscene. Heading into the main menu, it was fairly basic but it got the job done and it looks quite good with the car in the background and some studio lighting,

The problem began when I first went into the control options, there weren't any true options I got to select my wheel and that's it, there were no other options. No choice of shifting, button remap, axis dead zone and linearity, nothing. If you didn't like the settings, you had to deal with them. The same goes for basically every other setting, it's all fairly shallow and not enough for fine-tuning for performance. It was incredibly jarring because the previous Heat game did at least do a decent job at allowing button remaps and setting to an acceptable degree but all of this was stripped away.

I then decided to check out the paint booth as it had previously been a weak point of the Heat games and I was expecting more of the same basic paint booth but I was pleasantly surprised. Sitting in front of me was a proper paint booth, one that resembles those from Nascar 14 or 15 and even the Nascar Thunder games from the early 2000s. There was a lot of customizability from color to decal placement and size to numbers to basically everything one could want outside of going into photoshop and creating completely custom liveries. It was incredibly powerful and I spent a solid two hours playing and creating a custom paint scheme for cars because of how fun it is to use. It is frankly an incredible experience but it is worrying that this is one of the best parts about this game, it was the paint booth and not actually the driving or career experience, of course at this point, I didn't know this but it was soon clear.

I then decided to do some driving in Single Race mode, choosing the 5 of Kyle Larson and racing at Pocono because racing at Pocono was previously an experience that was not great in the Heat games. This is where the first of many crashes happened, it just crashed to desktop after selecting.

I then decided to just head into career mode in order to do my driving there and see what happens in career mode as well. This is where it gets worse. The F1 games share the exact same problem as this, I could choose any team to start my career with which takes away a lot of immersion because as a rookie, I wouldn't be able to sign with Hendrick or Joe Gibbs or Penske especially with the lack of Xfinity or Truck means it was shallow and you are essentially an unproven talent and you would not be able to sign with those teams. I choose Kaulig racing and my career begin with a dashboard of the dates of events and that's it. There wasn't anything else to do except being practice for the Daytona 500 so I did while expecting another crash. Thankfully it didn't happen and I was treated to this flyover view of the track, with a TV announcer introducing the event and it is a much-improved presentation from the previous games. The garage was also much improved with you now sitting in the car and your crew chief handing you a tablet where you can change the setup, look at a live leaderboard of the lap times, and go out on track. The lap time screen is fairly basic with names, car number, manufacturer, and current and best lap time but it is welcome and gets the job done. Set up screen is not overly detailed which is expected of a licensed racing game but it is much better than the previous heat games. The overall presentation feels much more realistic and immersive as a Nascar driver compare to the top-down view of the previous games. Heading out on track led me to my first problem, it put me straight onto the track without the pitlane and the transition from autopilot to manual driving was so jarring that I spun on my first try. I went back to the pit and head back out on track this time manage to catch the car. This was even worse in qualifying where the game autopilot and entire lap and since Daytona have a banked front straight, the transition was incredibly fo me to judge how much wheel I should have already turned when I got the control

The driving experience is much improved, clearly, the acquisition of Studio 397 and having the rFactor 2 physics knowledge is a massive help as the car now feels like a 4000lb stock car. They are weighted and I need to wrestle the car to make it turn but the force feedback is still lackluster, I didn't get a feel of the road condition and it wasn't entirely communicative leading to drive based on visual and audio pretty much entirely which made me quite slow on track as I was being more cautious. The physics are definitely a complete step in the right direction but the force feedback and the jarring transition of autopilot to manual driving brought down what could have been a fantastic driving experience.

The race itself was a problem. I wanted to test the caution system and starting from 16th was a great way to do that although I was in the inside line for some reason which is strange. I wanted to test the caution system so I got myself wrecked and spun to the middle of the track and saw the awesome new deformation and damage model as I wipe out half the field but there was no caution, the race stayed green which is absolutely disheartening. Stages also aren't a thing so I didn't caution there either not to mention crashing can still result in cars clipping and being launched into a low orbit. I love the driving physics but the bugs and glitches mean I did not do more than the Daytona 500 before uninstalling which makes me sad because it could have been so good but once again bugs plague this game and it just didn't allow me to have fun.
Pros: 1. It looks good (not great as there is some graphics tearing and things, but still above average overall).
2. Paint booth is a nice improvement over past Nascar games.
Cons: 1. The game will crash to desktop or freeze on you regularly.
2. The game is filled with game breaking bugs
3. The game lacks stages, a core part of modern Nascar.
4. Cautions and flags don't work right and are extremely buggy.
5. The AI is terrible.
6. There are very few game modes and the game is really stripped down in terms of content when compared to past Nascar titles, and when compared to racing titles as a whole it's a joke.
7. The game has bad physics, with mandatory driving assists you can't turn off.
8. Many racing wheels don't work with the game.
Do not buy!! The game is the worst Nascar game ever made. And a competitor for the worst racing game ever made. Motorsports games improved the graphics to be above average for a racing title, while pretty much everything else in the game is hot garbage.
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Bought it on Steam, tried it. Crashed when signed up for new career. Crashed on some other occasions. Then tried to drive, could not configure my Fanatec V3's pedals next to my Thrustmaster T500 wheel. So could not brake/ give gas. Asked refund on Steam and got it. My 45 minutes on Ignition. I might buy it again if they improve massively, because i would like to drive Nashcar/ ovals. But now this game isn't finished, i would not even call this in Beta state. I wonder why they even put it into stores.
 
Bought it on Steam, tried it. Crashed when signed up for new career. Crashed on some other occasions. Then tried to drive, could not configure my Fanatec V3's pedals next to my Thrustmaster T500 wheel. So could not brake/ give gas. Asked refund on Steam and got it. My 45 minutes on Ignition. I might buy it again if they improve massively, because i would like to drive Nashcar/ ovals. But now this game isn't finished, i would not even call this in Beta state. I wonder why they even put it into stores.
Don't forget you can leave a review of this or any product we feature on RD. You can leave a star rating and description.

It's just the button at the top of the page should you wish to use this feature.

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Nothing much to say I mean we have seen gameplay footage for two weeks before launch and the product is a terrible mess. I will say this again, Motorsport Games acquired licenses to dominate the market like EA once did. This is about money not a quality product. Two years of development only to get this bugfest..........BTCC, Indy or WEC wont be any different.
 
Nothing much to say I mean we have seen gameplay footage for two weeks before launch and the product is a terrible mess. I will say this again, Motorsport Games acquired licenses to dominate the market like EA once did. This is about money not a quality product. Two years of development only to get this bugfest..........BTCC, Indy or WEC wont be any different.
To be fair, this is their first attempt at a new title under the new structure. Personally I will give them the benefit of the doubt and scratch this one up as a swing and a miss. They can't afford to get it wrong for the others though.
 
To be fair, this is their first attempt at a new title under the new structure. Personally I will give them the benefit of the doubt and scratch this one up as a swing and a miss. They can't afford to get it wrong for the others though.
I remember so well when ACC entered the arena... It took one year to have a decent product... People said it was horrible... Now it is glorified... I won't buy it until I see other thousand reviews in the next months and see what's happening. What I do not understand is people saying they are thieves and so on... Couldn't a game be re-founded? I dont' understand, really
 
Nothing much to say I mean we have seen gameplay footage for two weeks before launch and the product is a terrible mess. I will say this again, Motorsport Games acquired licenses to dominate the market like EA once did. This is about money not a quality product. Two years of development only to get this bugfest..........BTCC, Indy or WEC wont be any different.
I hope that MG learns from this game and passes on their experience to their other games. I mean I understand why we have Nascar first as it has games to base it off. I just wish we didn't go backward to go forwards with NASCAR games. EA was goated then NASCAR 2011 wasn't great but NASCAR inside line was good and NASCAR 14 improved on both. Then NHE comes out it's bad, then there are improvements. Then ignition comes out and it's lacking. Then im sure the next one will improve but we have gone back to near NHE levels of bad.

Also how hard is it for devs to offer a keyboard option?
 
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I remember so well when ACC entered the arena... It took one year to have a decent product... People said it was horrible... Now it is glorified... I won't buy it until I see other thousand reviews in the next months and see what's happening. What I do not understand is people saying they are thieves and so on... Couldn't a game be re-founded? I dont' understand, really
Two cannot be compared, ACC was released as alpha/beta flavor.
NC21, is a released full fat, worse than PCars franchise bug fest from what I've watched on YT.
Then again, irrespective of it being any good turning left for 70 odd laps, bar a few road circuits is just dull against the AI. Let's leave IR to wear that crown.
 
Two cannot be compared, ACC was released as alpha/beta flavor.
NC21, is a released full fat, worse than PCars franchise bug fest from what I've watched on YT.
Then again, irrespective of it being any good turning left for 70 odd laps, bar a few road circuits is just dull against the AI. Let's leave IR to wear that crown.
I know it was a alpha/beta… I paid… but it was horrible when left the beta and enter the final state… btw I understand the concerns of yours and others… what I saw in the videos during the last few days is in my opinion has more “design” problems than “bugs”… bugs can be fixed, it just takes time… this is my biggest concern… it’s 2021… a racing game can be designed for the mass and for real sim racers at the same time
 
Are current racing sims able to give Nascar fans what they're looking for ? I bet Assetto Corsa has tons of mods for it, and iRacing seem to have some content about it too. I don't know anything about Nascar, just asking.
 
Are current racing sims able to give Nascar fans what they're looking for ? I bet Assetto Corsa has tons of mods for it, and iRacing seem to have some content about it too. I don't know anything about Nascar, just asking.
You cannot decouple the roll bars in AC, so hybrid approach at best.
I'm sure the steam sales will be a good barometer

 
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I remember so well when ACC entered the arena... It took one year to have a decent product... People said it was horrible... Now it is glorified... I won't buy it until I see other thousand reviews in the next months and see what's happening. What I do not understand is people saying they are thieves and so on... Couldn't a game be re-founded? I dont' understand, really
I have *no* problem with buggy, messy games. None.
When they're in early access. I've enjoyed them all through their development cycles. But they were clear - these are early access. AMS2 launched with some quirks and bugs, but nothing so egregious to make the game completely unplayable for the majority of people. Launch the game into early access if you want. People will be understanding. Selling an unfinished game with NO warning that the game is in such a state, but at full price isn't cool. If they said 'the game isn't quite ready, but we're going to launch it in the state it's in and we're going to keep working on it until it's right', I'd have let it sit in my library and check back in on it whenever there's an update. Paying full price and discovering this myself made me feel ripped off and asked for a refund, because the game I got wasn't the game I was sold.
 
Are current racing sims able to give Nascar fans what they're looking for ? I bet Assetto Corsa has tons of mods for it, and iRacing seem to have some content about it too. I don't know anything about Nascar, just asking.
iRacing has all NASCAR levels and all NASCAR tracks. You can race multiplayer or against the AI. And it works flawlessly every time. NASCAR 21: Ignition has a little ways to go to challenge it :)
 
You cannot decouple the roll bars in AC, so hybrid approach at best.
I'm sure the steam sales will be a good barometer

What does "decouple the roll bars" mean?

AC can support asymmetric spring/damper etc. setups, but not asymmetric geometry, or wheelbase, or lateral load split so it's not exactly the best for doing oval racing. Although the physics modeling is great in AC especially with Cphys it just doesn't support the needed features, currently at least.
 

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