Just four months since Project Cars 3 released, we’ve already received confirmation of a sequel.
The news comes from none other than Ian Bell, the CEO of Slightly Mad Studios, the developer responsible for the Project Cars franchise. In a series of now-deleted tweets posted this morning that were snapped by GTPlanet, Bell said Project Cars 4 “will be the most realistic simulation ever made. In every area, in every way.”
Curiously, the tweet was attached to what is presumably an in-game or in-engine screenshot of trees at the edge of the Nürburgring Nordschleife. “Do you like every leaf shadowing every other leaf...I do,” the post read. In a following tweet, Bell described other ways in which the game will accurately render the racing environment:
Live leaves affected by vortices on AI cars hitting the windscreen of the player car .. I think so. Bump mapped track edges: 24 hour time of day. Live Track 4 Madness 2.0... I think so...
Yes, the shadow-cast trees and bump mapping (a way of conveying physical depth to textures) look nice enough — at least in compressed Twitter images, anyway — and seeing leaves thrown about by passing cars in real time is a nice touch. Unfortunately, I’m not terribly certain whether most of that will be relevant to the average Project Cars player, though. “Live Track 4” and “Madness 2.0” hint at generational updates to Slightly Mad Studios’ dynamic weather technology and development framework.
For those who missed the Project Cars 3 saga, the game proved a marked departure from the first and second entries in the franchise, which had been far more sim-oriented, both in terms of vehicle physics and game design. Project Cars 3 did away with critical elements like pit stops, fuel consumption and tire wear. And it abandoned the “driver journey” style of single-player progression, where you’d rise up the ranks in a given discipline, join various racing teams and essentially live out the career of a professional driver.
It was a significant shift for the brand, though the game’s marketing didn’t entirely fess up to the change in direction. In a tweet prior to Project Cars 3's release that also appears to have been deleted, Bell called the game “all of the sim you could want with all of the fun you could want,” further confusing fans as to what exactly the game was supposed to be and who it was supposed to be for.
Personally, I enjoyed my time with Project Cars 3, finding it to be a forgiving yet fun-handling, semi-realistic racer more comparable to Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport than hardcore sims like iRacing or Assetto Corsa. Nevertheless, the title’s launch was flush with bugs and reception was divisive, and now it appears Slightly Mad Studios may react by returning to the franchise’s roots with the next installment. Surely there’s a better way of demonstrating that commitment than a post about leaf shadows, but I digress.
What also makes today’s confirmation of Project Cars 4's existence particularly interesting is Electronic Arts’ $1.2 billion acquisition of racing game publisher Codemasters, announced yesterday. Codemasters owns Slightly Mad Studios, but also houses developers responsible for the Dirt, Dirt Rally, F1 and Grid franchises, in addition to Project Cars. Before Project Cars, Slightly Mad Studios developed Need For Speed Shift and Shift 2 Unleashed for EA.