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Featured FIA ETRC: Impressions From The New Game

Discussion in 'FIA European Truck Racing Championship' started by Paul Jeffrey, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    FIA ETRC Review 1.jpg
    We take a look at the new FIA European Truck Racing Championship video game from N-Racing.


    Having secured an official license to replicate the highest level of international truck racing on both console and PC devices, the lesser know N-Racing development team have put together one of the most curious, and potentially most awesome, racing games of this year.

    Replicating the exceptional FIA European Truck Racing Championship category, including some fantastic circuits in the form of such venues as Le Mans (Bugatti Circuit) and Zolder as just two examples, the choice of series is perhaps not what one would have expected off the bat, but could well be a wise choice in a marketplace where developers struggle to find a unique selling point to left them ahead of the crowd.

    FIA ETRC: Unedited gameplay video HERE

    Graphics

    From a graphical point of view the new game immediately impresses, with sharp, clear and detailed graphics throughout the on-and-off track shenanigans within the game. The title has evidently been developed with user friendly playability in mind, N-Racing seemingly keen maintain an uncluttered and uncomplicated experience for the player, offering useful explanations of the various game menu choices and detailed voice coaching throughout the various stages of the track activity within the game.

    Whilst no doubt welcome for players new to racing games, some of this simplicity can become a bit of a barrier for the more experienced racer, with N-Racing having made some design decisions that take away the adjustability and control from the player, in favour of pre-set choices. An example of this would have to be the ‘Quick Race’ menu option, where after selecting truck and track, the player is instantly sent into a racing situation without the opportunity to run practice or qualification sessions.

    These sort of quick jump into the action options are nothing unusual for racing games, however without the ability to set a single race type scenario with a full weekend structure, it just feels like the shift from quick race to full on championship mode is missing that vital link that helps the driver engage in the off line portion of the title.

    FIA ETRC Released.jpg

    Game Modes

    Speaking of game modes, FIA ETRC comes with Quick Race, Online, Career and Championships, as well as online event challenges that due to the early access nature of the build I’ve been playing, I haven’t had the opportunity to yet full scope out this portion of the game.

    Career mode sees you introduced to a number of driving license test activities designed to asses your ability to handle a modern racing truck. Set in small scenario portions that covers the basics of control, these tests are again mostly focused on the rookie racing game player and can feel a little laborious for more experienced drivers - especially when it is mandatory to complete all license tests in order to progress into the career mode proper. The grind nature of these tests are not helped by the fact one needs to exit and reload the next “test” after each separate assessment has been completed, leaving me to feel the opening strands of the career mode are a little awkward and poorly thought out, which upon further playing of the game becomes something of a common theme in many aspects of the title.

    I’ll admit my enthusiasm for these career mode tests very quickly fell away, to the point where I abandoned further participation after just four tests. As it is mandatory to complete these before progressing into career mode proper, I suspect it will be a while before I find motivation to plough through and see what that side of the title has to offer they player. Which is a bit of a worry, as I suspect many people who pick this game up on release will feel the same way...

    FIA ETRC Review 2.jpg

    Driving

    On to the driving model itself, this is where FIA ETRC really differentiates itself from other driving games in the marketplace today. Racing trucks are very different beasts to the traditional fare of GT, touring and formula cars - heavier, slower and less responsive than their distant cousins, which takes a while to get used to in this game but adds a very interesting and different dynamic to the gameplay experience.

    One of the big things simulated in ETRC is the need to cool your brakes during the race. With water tanks installed on the truck, the player will have to keep track of brake temperature during heavy deceleration and release water onto their brakes to keep the temperature at the optimum level, avoiding getting the pads too hot and causing less efficient slowing if the trucks, or if left unattended for long periods potential damage to the brakes. With only a limited amount of water for the race distance, the player will have to be careful not to run out of cooling before the end of the event, which adds an nice (and realistic) element of strategy into he race experience.

    As for the driving model itself, this is something that I’ve found to be just about adequate, but by no means are these trucks anywhere close to the physics and feedback experienced in something like the Formula Truck content of Automobilista.

    FFB is functional at best, inconsistent and slightly confusing at worst. You don’t really have much in the way of feedback from the FFB wheel to tell you what your truck is doing, just what feels like basic resistance and heavy vibration when either going over trackside curbs or contacting with other trucks and trackside objects.

    The trucks themselves feel somewhat prone to rear traction loss in unexpected places, however the slide dynamics are such that it is rarely too late in which to recover a sideways moment. With momentum so important to lap time in these trucks, sliding can have very negative outcome on your overall performance, and should be avoided at all costs.

    It may be worth noting I've done my driving in this game using a SimSteering V2 direct drive wheel, so the experience of a user using one of the officially supported racing wheels may differ.

    FIA ETRC Gameplay.jpg

    Audio

    Diesel powered racing trucks most certainly don’t give off an emotive sound like that of a mid 90’s V12 Grand Prix car or something American and GT specification at Le Mans, but they certainly have something of a sound of their own that stands out for the crowd - especially when they power a massive 5 ton + racing truck! Here, N-Racing have done a very solid job of replicating the audio experience from the series, simulating the sound of these beastly engines and the associated activities such as dispelling water cooling and the various bumps, grinds and creams that come with racing trucks to a high level.

    Trackside audio is also well produced and the menu music is bang on point (subject to your personal preference of course), adding to the general feel of the title. Tempering the good with the bad, air brake pressure release type noises are used to represent back button presses in the game UI, which get annoying after a while, making you wonder how this sort of unnecessary oversight hasn’t been identified during the development and QA phase of the game. However, that’s a very small and insignificant observation, and doesn’t distract in any way from the core gameplay value.

    Summary

    Overall the new FIA ETRC game edges firmly on the more arcade spectrum than thoroughbred simulation, but has many aspects of a more realistic type of title. The game feels like it suffers from something of an identity crisis, not really going whole hog into the arcade experience, nor hitching its coat on the peg of realism. The genre of racing games is a well travelled one full of very competent titles, so it will be difficult to see this game really break free for those in which it competes for attention.

    The game certainly has potential and I’d like to see what lessons learnt can mean for any potential follow up release, but sadly at the moment, FIA ETRC is neither realistic nor fun, leaving it squarely in the no man's land of close, but absolutely no cigar.

    The FIA ETRC game is available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC now.

    Check out the FIA ETRC sub forum here at RaceDepartment for all the latest news and discussion about the game.

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  2. PicoBp

    PicoBp
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    I'd be ashamed to give licence to such crap. Hungary Speedway??? Not even the official tracks are there?

    It drives decently, but the visuals and UI are horrible, content doesn't even cover the official series, the whole thing looks and feels like a repurposed 2000's budget title.

    I was so hyped for this, and would have been happy with a nice arcade title even, but what this ended up to be is worse than many indie titles.
     
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  3. er185

    er185

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    Hungary Speedway is the only fictional track (they could not license Hungaroring, apparently) The rest of the championship tracks are: Misano, Nürburgring, Slovakia Ring, Most, Zolder, Le Mans and Jarama. There are also 6 other real tracks: Laguna Seca, COTA, Canadian Tire, Fuji, Buenos Aires (Autódromo Oscar y Juan Gálvez) and Winton.
     
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  4. M D Gourley

    M D Gourley
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    ...so I think I will just wait for Automobilista 2.:)
     
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  5. Chris Haye

    Chris Haye
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    I have to agree with much of what you've said Paul. Though, perhaps you're being a bit kind to the visuals :p

    I think the key take-away for me from the couple of hours I spent with it this afternoon is that it's fun. Take off the 'simulation goggles' and enjoy it for what it is, a fun driving game involving massive effin trucks!
     
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  6. MarkR

    MarkR

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    Having played the game today I think your review is a little too critical, that's fine, we each have our view and I appreciate the effort you go to for the community but I'll disagree with a few points:

    The comparison with the trucks in AMS is an interesting point. The trucks in AMS drive and are geared very much like turbocharged sports cars (6 gears, gearing like cars, rapid gear changes, brake like cars) compared to the languid and narrow 2K rev band, effectively 2 gear 7H and 8H of the FIA racing trucks. No one would think - other than driving height - that they are driving the same type of vehicle switching between the two games. Unfortunately, the games don't have the same tracks so a direct comparison isn't easily possible. Personally, I don't feel as much difference between the physics, FIA TRC trucks certainly understeer and pushes a little wider but that feels right in the context of the game, once adapted to going faster is easy enough - these trucks won't be bullied.

    FFB works just fine on my more mainstream TX458 wheel, it's as intuitive as anything else available. What's more impressive is that it works out of the box when so many games we play need hours of wheel fettling to get a decent setup. As a result, I think sliding works well and can be used pretty effectively in some corners.

    Licences. Sorry but I fundamentally disagree regarding the race licences. There are only 15 licence challenges and most take less than 30 seconds. For experienced sim racers yes they are easy. But...the main point is they introduce the core mechanics of the game - the weight transfer of trucks, the need to carry momentum, the water cooling of the brakes, the difficulty these vehicles have in chicanes and how to take a drive-through penalty. There are also leaderboards for the challenges, last time I checked I still had the WR for a few of them - that adds an extra dimension of fun.

    Personally, I prefer this graduated approach to the way a game works than the failure to explain anything of ACC. The first race in ACC requiring driver swaps was a total surprise to me, not a single thing was explained. For everything Kunos do so well they let themselves down with the failure to explain the game. It's also worth mentioning this game has working leaderboards at launch where 'serious' sims like ACC seem unable to do so.

    The career mode is actually pretty well put together. Again, Kunos could learn a lot from it compared to the shambles they created in ACC (wonderful as the driving experience is). I know from the review you didn't get to try the career and that's a shame because of rewards, repairs and influence system work well, as a single-player experience, it hangs together well.

    Maybe it was an earlier version of the game but all the parameters of both quick race and custom championship can be set by the player. Nothing different here to many of the other games as far as I can see, and this is on day one. I remember it taking AC months after launch to add custom championships - years if you include the console versions.

    You quite rightly say the graphics are decent, they are, I'd like those who are seeing something different to explain what they are seeing? In 4k there really isn't much to separate this game from the rest.

    As this is the internet where things are so easily misconstrued I feel compelled to say once again I respect your view and I am just offering some different perspectives on a number of points.

    Overall I think you made this sound like the Forza of Truck Racing and I think it's actually a bit better than that, it has a unique character not even the AMS trucks get close to and I think that is something worth praising in the current market of all too similar simulators.
     
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  7. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    Hey Mark,

    Congratulations! You sir, are the first person who manages to disagree with me, but in a sensible, compelling and respectful way! I read your post and completely respect what you wrote, without leaving myself wondering why I bother doing this thing (like I do with most folk who respond to these things!!!).

    Awesome!

    The above post should be a template for how to use the internet and forum. Top marks (no pun intended!).
     
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  8. PicoBp

    PicoBp
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    Try it in anything lower than that, and add an ultrawide aspect ratio, you'll understand. I play in 2560x1080, which isn't properly supported. The menu and UI elements are stretched in a way I've last seen in Race07. Nothing scales appropriately, even the team radio subs are distorted. Also the FOV is crazy high, as I guess it's baked for 16:9 screens.

    Someone else mentioned, that Hungary Speedway is the only fictional track. Should there be any in an official title, especially if there are such few tracks in the series? And wouldn't it have to be highlighted in the advertisement campaign?
     
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  9. AndreasFSC

    AndreasFSC
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    Thank you @Paul Jeffrey for your nice review, as always. It's always interesting to read about all these different games, (even if I'll probably never play any of them, being stuck in old Race07).
    And, of course thanks to @MarkR for writing an exemplary post.
     
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  10. Ryno917

    Ryno917

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    What!? Really!? Cool. I might pick up for that alone :D
     
  11. Cheesenium

    Cheesenium

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    I’m more excited to see Winton in a game. Content wise, the game is quite interesting. Definitely will pick it up in a sale.

    I don’t think it’s fair to compare to the trucks in AMS as the European trucks are designed differently to the Brazilian counterparts. If I’m not wrong, the Brazilian used street tires in AMS along with other cost cutting measure to keep it more accessible for the local teams. I would assume the European trucks to be more race prepped than the Brazilian that feels more like a drifting behemoth road truck on track day. Perhaps I am wrong but this isn’t GT3 in a game compared to another.

    To be honest, I really don’t care if it’s arcade or sim. As long as the driving is enjoyable and I am fine with it.
     
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  12. DaVeX↯

    DaVeX↯

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    I still think the driver model is wrong, the head should be a tennis ball once removed the helmet...
     
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  13. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith
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  14. falster

    falster

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    Well,

    I'm disappointed I think.

    I was semi interested in this, and thought id give it a go, but I cant say as I feel the same now, having seen videos and having read and taken on board certain bits and pieces of information.

    Yes I know, there's no substitute for actually "playing"

    However:

    My interest in the subject matter is extremely low to non existent if im honest, and I was merely basing my original thoughts about it, on my few times of having seen trucks racing, and having played them in AMS, (although im sure I also remember doing it years back in one of the "race driver" games...2 I think..) even then, I don't play them all that often

    however, I don't think there's enough to tempt me. it looks "ok" at best, the addition of a fictional track in an official game, aswell as the addition of tracks not even in the calendar or even in Europe,in an official game, puzzles me (outside of a vague attempt at seemingly attracting others to buy, who normally wouldn't) like I say, I'm not that interested in the sport (which although isn't necessary, I feel it does help in situations like this)

    The price is also a little steep for my tastes, considering id play it for about 5 minutes, and I paid less for ACC and am much much more into that and what it offers me and how I feel when I play it..

    also, having to have a female American on the radio annoys me,

    But to all those who have it and enjoy it, fair play, you carry on. everybody has different tastes and I guess mine don't really stretch to this
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
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  15. MarkR

    MarkR

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    Here's a wet race in Career mode at Misano. Other than the track looking wet the conditions don't seem to impact the player truck much, there is no rain as such (from what I've seen so far) despite the game having working wipers.



    The Career AI trucks at the professional level are to slow, I super pole qualified first with a 2.12 lap and the fastest AI truck running 2.18, in the qualifying order race I just disappeared into the distance. I think most people here would find the same issue, these are not difficult laptimes to achieve.

    Luckily the career mode mixes things up with 2 reverse grid races per weekend, as shown in the video I started 8th in this race and had to fight my way through the pack. The racing itself is good enough, the AI make mistakes and attempt to recover, they fight for position but there is no outright ramming as in some games. The penalty system with penalty posts and track cutting work well (i finish 2nd in this race because I was rightly given a 3-second penalty for leaving the track after the 2nd to last corner - it was worth the last corner effort but the game caught me!

    There is also a bug where FFB is lost after a drive-through penalty when control is returned to the player the FFB is light in the middles of the wheel and heavy only at the extreme end of the rotation. A game pause and wheel reset cleared the issue.

    The career elements such as earning money, prestige and team morale all look good but are not fully implemented in the first season (weekend to weekend contract) so I haven't seen the truck upgrading system in action yet. However, unless there is a higher AI difficulty to unlock upgrading the truck isn't going to mean much.

    it's definitely a niche game and I absolutely agree it too expensive at full price on PC and consoles, there isn't enough content to justify a full-price game. However, it's available for less than half price already in some places and at £20 there is enough difference to make it worth a look.
     
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  16. Timberwind

    Timberwind

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    On what graphics engine does it run on?
     
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  17. Lentoveloz

    Lentoveloz
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    Faced with some controversy about the game, I decided to test it without being too demanding (highlight - without being too demanding). I have tested for 90 minutes mainly looking at overall quality, simulation and just fun. Unfortunately it was easy to decide: not worth the price charged. Maybe half or a quarter. Worse, they promised the Indianapolis circuit to test for a week. They did not keep the promise. I am very sorry because the market is lacking in this sector. Only AMS is acceptable when the subject is truck.
     
  18. Martin Fiala

    Martin Fiala
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    Seems kinda unfair to criticize the FFB, only to then admit you've actually been using an unsupported wheel. Yes, the FFB will likely not be great on supported wheels either, but still.
     
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  19. Nico

    Nico

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    Buenos Aires is included? :cool:

    Then I might get it, but I'll wait for a sale. This game didn't seem to be worth its full price during development and certainly still looks like that now. However, I like gaming experiences that differ from the normal standards.
     
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  20. Ruy Horta

    Ruy Horta

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    KT engine
     
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