From high profile releases like Forza Horizon 3, the resurgence of rally games with DiRT Rally and the start of the console sim racing saturation with the long-awaited arrival of Assetto Corsa, 2016 was a transformative year for racing games. To celebrate, we’re hosting our first ever Team VVV Racing Game of the Year Awards (something we’ve been meaning to do for years) to recognise achievements in racing gaming, from best graphics and sound, to car lists, handling and indie titles, we’ve got everything covered.
DLC is a sore subject for some gamers, but love it or hate it, racing games are an ideal platform for add-ons such as car packs, season passes and, unfortunately, micro-transactions. This award recognises the most innovative and best value DLC which expanded the game experience beyond the original release.
Forza Horizon 3’s Blizzard Mountain expansion followed a similar formula to the Storm Island DLC released for Forza Horizon 2, adding a new standalone map area and extreme weather conditions, but what sets it apart is how it addressed some of the core game’s flaws. The hazardous driving conditions added some much-needed challenge, while the new star-based objectives gave a better sense of progression and added replay value, which was lacking in the main game. The weather effects are also among the best we’ve seen in a racing game as you leave trails in the snow and battle against heavy blizzards.
It certainly wasn’t the best DLC released in 2016, but the random Radio Controlled Car DLC released for Valentino Rossi: The Game was certainly the most unexpected. As far as we were aware, Valentino Rossi hasn’t taken up radio controlled car racing, but it was a fun diversion from the bike and car-based modes.
Car packs are the most common form of DLC released for racing games, and while there were some excellent packs released for Forza Horizon 3 that brought the vehicles roster bang up to date with recent cars such as the BMW i8 hybrid, the plethora of Porsche packs released for Assetto Corsa stand out the most.
In total, 21 Porsche models were added across three packs, offering a superb selection across different eras. Kunos Simulazioni worked closely with Porsche to ensure that the modelling and virtual driving experience was as authentic as possible. After a 12-year hiatus from the hardcore sim racing world, it was a glorious comeback for the prestigious manufacturer, which is slowly starting to find its way back into racing games. For hardcore Porsche enthusiasts, no racing game has offered better fan service or value for money.
Winner: TrackMania Turbo VR Update
Admittedly, we were apprehensive about playing TrackMania Turbo with the PlayStation VR headset for fears it would make us regurgitate our dinner. Turns out any fears were unwarranted, because TrackMania Turbo is surprisingly playable in VR – the technology fundamentally transforms the experience.
This is DLC done right: rather than applying VR to the core game and hoping for the best, developer Nadeo created bespoke tracks that were fully optimised for the VR experience. Your viewpoint was also limited to the chase camera to minimise the risk of motion sickness. The resulting tracks were nowhere near as extreme as the main game, but the heightened sense of speed and scale made for an enthralling VR racing experience that was just as addictive as the main game.
Best of all, you couldn’t accuse the TrackMania Turbo PSVR experience of being a rip-off because it was released as a free update for existing players. Newcomers who didn’t own the full game, on the other hand, could also download a free demo. Now that’s our favourite kind of DLC.
Do you agree with our winner? Let us know in the comments below.