During a hands-off demo, Evolution Studios showed off how big of an impact DriveClub's advanced weather simulation has on racing.
Evolution started the demo by reiterating that the nearly yearlong delay is being used to boost DriveClub's social elements, making the game as seamless and connected as possible when racing with friends. The developer also confirmed that the game will run at 1080p and 30 frames per second. After showing off the game's new menu, which provides a constant feed of dynamic challenges and races, Evolution focused on a very specific aspect of the game that has a surprising effect on the feel of races: DriveClub's weather simulation.
In addition to featuring a day/night cycle with full real-time lighting and shadows, DriveClub also has an extensive weather system. The position of the sun is determined by the time of day and the real-world location of the track you're racing. Location also affects the type of weather you'll see; our first demo takes place on a winding track in Scotland, and the weather is appropriately misty and overcast. A large cloud bank blocks the sun, giving the track an eerily realistic muted look. Unlike most games, the clouds aren't merely a pretty skybox, but are fully simulated and different every time you play. They also move and mutate based on the direction and speed of the wind.
After a few minutes of driving, the developer turns up the precipitation until the drivers are caught in a full-on rainstorm. The feel of race changes along with the new weather, as visibility lowers and cars begin to kick up large clouds of mist on the road. As the rain increases, the roads become slick and shiny, and puddles form, reflecting everything in the environment, including cars, roadside flags, and rocks. The developer pauses the action and pans around the camera to show off how truly impressive the effects are. He stresses that it's not just an illusion – the weather is being fully simulated across the entire mountain that the race is taking place on.
Another flip of the switch plunges the race into nighttime; the headlights of the racers bathe the reflective cars in bright light and illuminate the rain-slick road – again the racetrack has a different feel to it, and presents an even greater challenge. Once the rainstorm ends, Evolution says that the puddles will realistically evaporate based on the layout of the track and the wind.
Afterwards, the developer starts a race in Norway to show off DriveClub's snow effects. Like rain, snow accumulates realistically and affects driving conditions as well as visibility. At the height of the simulated storm it's nearly impossible to see the other cars on the road, which should make for some interesting challenges that players can create to test their friends.
Evolution says that the weather system will be added to the game sometime in 2014, along with a photo mode – after all, what good is beautiful weather if you can't share pictures of it with your friends?
DriveClub will be available October 7 on PS4. For more information, check out a dozen new facts Kato learned about the game last month.