According to Motorsport Games, NASCAR 21 will be released later this year and will not be a continuation of the Heat series.
NASCAR 21 will be a fresh start for motorsport games and will be based on the Unreal Engine and rFactor 2 physics from Studio 397. Motorsport Games acquired Studio 397 and rFactor 2 in March of this year.
“What’s really exciting is the fact that we worked with the rFactor team at 397, who are known for their physics, and then switched from our previous engine to the Unreal engine and then combined the two,” explains Motorsport Games’ George Holmquist told IGN. “Using the Unreal engine brings the graphics [und] the gameplay in an AAA style of the game. More than the NASCAR Heat franchise we had before. I think this is something our customers are looking for. If you’ve seen the screenshots at this point, it’s definitely a step up from our previous franchise. “
He’s optimistic that fans will like the planned level of visual fidelity and quality of driving of NASCAR 21, but he’s also excited for players to dig into the paint job that will be added to this racing reboot.
“One of the biggest things fans have wanted is more customization,” says Holmquist. “We’ve always had the ability to personalize a car and stuff like that, but we really spent a lot of time bringing a real paint booth into play. I think the fans will be really looking forward to it. It turned out really well. We have invested a lot of development resources here. We have already created a lot of cool schemes and are currently testing the paint booth. “
“The paint department is what people have been asking for directly in the community, and that’s something we’re delivering in this first iteration of the new franchise.”
Holmquist is aware that NASCAR is seen as getting used to by people outside of the community, but he does think it’s probably one of the easiest racing formats for new fans.
“NASCAR is either loved or not valued,” he admits. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground with the fans.”
“From an accessibility standpoint, we believe NASCAR’s oval races are helping to really get people into our ecosystem, especially with the accessibility options we’re building into this game.”
“I think what is underestimated is the proximity of the race. And the assumption that you simply press the accelerator pedal and go in a circle. I challenge anyone to go to a NASCAR race and then see if that’s really what you feel after, because seeing 40 cars doing an average of 160 to 200 mph is a whole different thing drive around the track, only a few centimeters apart. It’s just a completely different experience. “
NASCAR 21 will be the first racing simulator developed by Motorsport Games to emerge as part of the acquisition of Studio 397.
“So there is definitely pressure,” says Holmquist. “There is internal pressure. There is external pressure. There is pressure from partners. There is definitely pressure going down. “
“I think a lot of people think we took a risk by changing the engine. We could have done what anyone else would have done, right? The easy way would have been [NASCAR] Develop Heat 6, add some quality-of-life features, sell it, move on, turn the game over and over and over again. That’s just not what we want to do at Motorsport Games. There is a lot of pressure on this game as you know because we have the other games like the BTCC and other licenses coming on board and obviously this is going to be a reflection for consumers, the media – even our partners and future partners – be what our skills are. “
“And of course our goal is to create a portfolio of motorsport racing games that people really enjoy and spread the passion of gaming and motorsport that are increasingly similar, especially in esports.”
According to George Holmquist, the studio’s approach to NASCAR 21 will be the foundation on which it will be built.
“Unreal isn’t going anywhere,” he says. “The rFactor physics isn’t going anywhere, it’s just getting better and better. So we also look to the future; that every iteration of the game – whether NASCAR, BTCC or so on – will get better and better. So this is our first flag in the ground. “
“It is very important for us to make sure this game is of the quality that our users expect and it is a step up from the Heat franchise.”
Motorsport Games has not yet announced when NASCAR 21 will be released this year. Further details are expected in the coming months.