The racing game genre has hit a bit of a plateau lately. Even with AAA titles like Gran Turismo 6 and Forza Motorsport 5 releasing to positive reviews, the selection of truly original and innovative racing games are few and far between. Slightly Mad Studios, developers of the Need For Speed: Shift series, claims to be changing that with World of Speed, a free-to-play MMO racer announced in February 2014 to be published by My.com.
While the idea of a racing MMO may not seem like a draw to skeptical gamers, it’s the dynamics of the game that may entice you; coming in first doesn’t mean you win. World of Speed works as follows: Players are separated into two teams, both with a goal of accumulating the most points. While coming in first does get you closer to leaving the opponents in the dust, points are also given for clean turns, drafting other cars, bullying the other team and more. The more points you get, the more chance you have at winning.
But there’s more to it than that. Each racing event has a certain set of objectives that must be completed for additional points. These objectives can be accomplished individually or as a team. For example, if the objective is to stay in the lead for two minutes, there’s more than one way of doing so: One racer can be in the lead for two minutes, or multiple racers from one team can be in the lead for an amount of time that equals it. A bar at the top-left of the screen shows the amount of points each team has.
“It’s our way of trying to fix racing games a little bit,” says Pete Morrish, the lead producer at Slightly Mad Studios in an interview with Polygon. “All racing games are about crossing the line first, if you transfer that into an online environment with an eight-player race that means seven players are coming away a little bit annoyed at your win.”
While the idea is quite exciting, it’ll be interesting to see how these objectives and point systems will be implemented. Of course, coming in first must have more weight than most other goals, or else you’d be hard pressed to call it a racing game. However, the idea of tuning your car to be able to complete certain objectives easier adds a pseudo-class system to the game, giving it more of an MMO feel. Players might want to tweak their cars to be fast and good at cutting through corners, while others might want to bulk up their cars to bully their opponents.
The game also possesses a social aspect to it; The Airfield is an area where users can show off their cars, meet with their club, and look at other upgraded vehicles as well. Players can join and create clubs that enter races, as well as build a reputation through their club, having its name put on specific tracks if it wins a number of significant events. There’s also a stunt zone where players can try some jumps, as well as a track to test out new upgrades.
Slightly mad is promising a diverse game, with a “huge” variety of tracks and cars, and events that change anytime from weekly to hourly. The trailer shows the game looking better than most racing games to date, claiming to provide a feel to match. While the free-to-play system always has a structure of monetizing on the player, Slightly Mad hasn’t released what exactly players will have to pay for, but here’s hoping to not much: this game looks and sounds too good to be true.
World of Speed enters closed beta early this spring.