Slightly Mad Studios are a little busy these days. Made up of developers responsible for bringing some of the better racing tiles of recent memory, the team is currently working of Project CARS for current-gen consoles, but that is not all they’re cooking up. They also happen to be working on World of Speed – an online team-based racing title for PC that will be completely free, and I got hands-on with it at this year’s Gamescom.
Unlike most racing games where being the first across the finish line is the main aim, WoS introduces objectives into each race to mix things up. These range from hitting several long drifts, to achieving perfect corners, to slip-streaming another car for a specific period of time, all over the course of the race. The thing is, the developers were quick to point out that no one racer could effectively complete all the objectives in a single competitive race, and so this is where the team aspect comes into play.
Players can decide amongst themselves which objective they wish to go for, picking the right car for the job to ensure victory. In that regard, it is almost like choosing a roll or class in an MMO. For example, a faster, Ferrari-esque car might be better suited for corners and getting first place, while a muscle car might be used to run interference with the opposing team, scoring a few drifts as and when they can. Once an objective has been completed, that team scores points, and the team with the highest total will be named the winner.
I only took part in one proper competitive race (and didn’t win, sadly. Yes, I know – I’m a disappointment to you all) but it was clear from just that race exactly what Slightly Mad Studios are aiming to achieve with WoS. The handling of the cars was familiar enough that I could jump straight into game with little issue, but the objectives and role element presented a new layer of meta-gameplay that I haven’t really experienced in a racing title before. It was clear that communication would be key to victory, especially if one of your team members crashes mid-race.
The thing is, while it may not have the huge open worlds that other upcoming driving games are touting, I felt the course we were shown in the demonstration – based on the streets of Moscow – had enough twists and turn to make for intense competitive races. Admittedly it was only a 2v2 race that I took part in, but the full game will allow for 4v4 clashes that I expect will be even more hectic than what I experienced.
As someone who normally isn’t into racing games unless they have the word Burnout in the title, the fact I came away from my hands-on eager to play more shows that Slightly Mad Studios are doing something right. The emphasis on teamwork resonates with me, and despite my inability to achieve victory that day I could see that as a team-based game there is so much potential. More to the point, it covers the other side of the genre’s coin by being less simulator and more arcade in both tone and feel. Sure, there’ll be the ability to customise your rides to some extent, but the drop-in-and-race aspect is what should make World of Speed an easily accessible and enjoyable online experience.
World of Speed will be releasing on PC, and is expected to enter its Closed Beta in the fourth quarter of 2014. You can sign up for it by heading over to the official website.
Stay tuned for our interview with Andy Tudor of Slightly Mad Studios later today!