Amid the great Driveclub U-turn the future looked bleak for many of the people at Evolution Studios.
"It wasn't a shock at the end of the day."
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A number of ex-Driveclub and Motorstorm staff have reformed under a new Liverpool label: Wushu Studios. It's a new start for many of the team at Secret Sorcery, the small indie developer previously behind PlayStation VR god game Tethered.
It's one of PlayStation VR's most impressive titles. DriveClub VR is the best racer available for owners of Sony's HMD, and stands proud against many of its competitors running on much more powerful hardware. Clearly, visual compromises are made, but the final result still impresses: the sensation of being in the cockpit is immense, and finally, we actually get to see the racer running at the 60fps we always hoped for - 120fps if you factor in Sony's temporal upscaling. The question is - how was this achieved?
The name never did it any favours, really. Neither did the fact it struggled to live up to its blandly ridiculous moniker at launch; as part of the well-documented troubles that surrounded DriveClub's already heavily delayed release, the clubs that formed an integral part of Evolution's vision for its PlayStation 4 exclusive just didn't work. Now the drama has died down, and unfortunately a studio died along with it, it's tragically clear that part of the equation never mattered that much anyway. All that really mattered was the one thing that DriveClub got right: the driving.
DriveClub's other tragedy is how its real talents have only properly come into focus now that Evolution Studios is no more. It was no less than a disaster for quite a time, missing the PS4 launch window by a clear 12 months and being riddled with errors that ranged from design oversights to servers that refused to stand up. What started out as a deeply flawed game was ushered towards being a very good one thanks to post-release updates that introduced variable weather and, much later, a hard-edged simulation handling model that allowed its handsomely modelled physics to bare their teeth. The last posthumous update has truly pushed DriveClub towards greatness.
What's so great about version 1.28, a 6GB patch that carries signs of being the last significant update to DriveClub? It's how it strengthens a link between Evolution's game and the previous king of racers that reigned the middle ground between arcade excess and the more exacting nature of a sim. Project Gotham Racing toed a perfect line between precision and panache, and the 15 tracks introduced by way of the new update help DriveClub do the same. It helps, of course, that they all have a very strong urban flavour.
DriveClub looks to have received its final update and it's a scorcher, folding in some 15 new tracks from the recently released DriveClub VR for free.
The urban tracks follow on from an update back in February this year that introduced DriveClub's first city-based track which bought it one step closer to the hallowed Project Gotham Racing. Since then, Sony closed Evolution Studios, with many of the staff seeking refuge at a new team that's part of Codemasters.
The new urban tracks featured in DriveClub VR, though the limited visuals of that particular game - a necessity in order for it to hit the frame-rate required for a decent VR experience - meant they weren't seen at their best. Weighing in at some 5.75GB, the new update - as spotted by TeamVVV - is as generous in file size and content as many big expansions.
Codemasters has picked up Evolution Studios - and in the process turned the once PlayStation-exclusive developer multiplatform.
It's going from bad to worse for the UK video game development industry. After Microsoft closed down Fable maker Lionhead, Sony has now closed down Driveclub developer Evolution.
Sincere apologies to whoever decided it was a good idea to put the rubbish and recycling out on a Sunday night in whatever strange fictional Scottish town it is that's been introduced to DriveClub as part of its latest update. Those two handsomely rendered bins have been sacrificed to the stubby nose of a McLaren 650S that was oh-so-delicately balanced on its throttle, lost in a perpendicular arc propelled by noisy horsepower as scraps of paper scattered over lamp-lit streets.
It's taken 18 months and plenty of updates, but it's fair to say that DriveClub has finally got me - I went from bored and frustrated with Evolution's PlayStation 4 exclusive racer at launch to mildly impressed last summer, but it's only now I'm fully in love. This isn't the DriveClub that released with stuttering servers, and it's not even the DriveClub you might have played when it finally hit PlayStation Plus. The latest update is the most radical yet, and it's fair to say it completely changes the way DriveClub is played. It's like coming back to your humble family Golf and finding out someone's shoehorned a caterwauling V12 under the bonnet.
What's new? First, there's that all-new location, Scotland's Old Town which is available in three variants, which does all it can to cement DriveClub as an heir of sorts to Project Gotham Racing's throne. There's always been a charmingly 90s flavour to the no-frills arcade racing that Evolution's plied with this, and that's only enhanced when you're swinging the back end of a supercar out while the front wheels ride up against the pavement of a street corner, shop-fronts blurring by in a rush of implausible speed. Still yearning for a Project Gotham Racing 5? Take a look at DriveClub in its new more urban setting and you may well be satisfied - it's certainly close enough.
PlayStation 4 racing game DriveClub gets harder tomorrow with the release of a big new update.
The February 2016 update adds "hardcore handling" as an optional setting. This turns off traction control, stability control and other assists for a more realistic driving experience, Evolution said.
Meanwhile, the update adds six variants on new track Scotland - Old Town.
DriveClub is getting a Hardcore mode in February, game director Paul Rustchynsky has announced.
Half the wheels twice the thrills, right? Anyone who's been watching the merry go round of this year's MotoGP season will tell you as much, and it's not just been about the errant seagulls being nutted to death or the feuds at the head of the field that have descended into Road Rash madness. Compared to the relative anonymity of the automobile, there's something more raw and more human about seeing someone contorting themselves and the laws of physics in the pursuit of speed. Bikes, quite simply, are fun.
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
UPDATE: After our article went live, Sony's Shuhei Yoshida tweeted Evolution's Paul Rustchynsky, saying that "you need to explain the game runs at 60fps but gets converted to 120fps with reprojection before sent to the VR headset".
UPDATE: Sony just announced Driveclub Bikes with a surprise launch set for after tonight's Paris Games Week media briefing.
Evolution's good work with DriveClub continues with an all-new update that makes a broad range of impressive changes to the PlayStation 4-exclusive driving game.
The headline for version 1.21 - if you're a bit of a racing nerd like me - is the support for Thrustmaster's TH8PA gear shifter, which helps enable clutch support as well as sequential and gate-shift options. I've got a pair of special gloves and boots to go with my own shifter so I can clunk my way through some half-hearted heel-and-toeing. Everyone at Eurogamer laughs about it. I think they're just happy for me.
Elsewhere, the Elite levels that were introduced at the tail-end of July have seen the cap boosted from 66 to 75, there are new Sprint versions of existing tracks and more car statistics are now visible in the vehicle selection screen, including specifics on each car's drivetrain and engine position. Hot stuff. There have also been stability and performance updates, as well a couple of tweaks that help make way for Ferrari's 488 GTB, the striking new turbo-powered car from Maranello that's getting everyone in a bit of a tizz this summer.
PlayStation 4-exclusive racer DriveClub has now sold more than 2m copies.
That figure includes both download and physical sales, and was reached before the launch of the free-to-subscribers PlayStation Plus Edition.
Game director Paul Rustchynsky revealed the sales milestone via Twitter over the weekend with a picture of a double platinum game award.
Severely delayed, hobbled at launch and with key features being drip-fed throughout its lifespan, in many ways DriveClub has been the poster child of this generation of consoles to date: a fractured beast that's taken a long, painful time to find its feet. And so it is that, nearly nine months after the release of Evolution's driving game, the PlayStation Plus version that's advertised on the back of every launch PlayStation 4 box is finally here. So what's changed, and is DriveClub worth returning to?
The PlayStation Plus Edition of DriveClub will launch tomorrow, 25th June, Sony has announced.
This is the lite version of the PS4 racing game that's free for members of PlayStation Plus. It was supposed to arrive alongside the full DriveClub game more than half-a-year ago.
But... online play won't be widely available yet.
Following several leaks, Logitech has confirmed the existence of the G29 steering wheel, the successor to its successful line of peripherals that took in the G25 and G27 - and it's also revealed the G920, the Xbox One equivalent that's launching in October this year.
The G29 is an evolution of the G27, and it'll be compatible with PS4, PS3 and PC. It'll feature dual-motor force feedback with anti-backlash helical gearing (I won't pretend to understand what the latter part means), a leather-wrapped rim complete with gear shift indicator LED lights and a stainless steel three pedal set-up.
The G29 starts shipping in July. Both units will cost £299.99 - a significant price point, but one that puts it in line with Thrustmaster's top-end console wheels. Like them, both the G29 and G920 will have a separate stick shifters should you want to go beyond the paddle shifts on the main unit.
DriveClub's servers will this morning be upgraded as developer Evo continues to work towards the launch of the PS Plus Edition of the game - although there's still no release date.
UPDATE: Logitech's G29 is looking more and more legit - a listing recently appeared on Amazon's German site (and spotted by NeoGAF - thanks) giving a proper look at the three-pedal set-up, as well as revealing a 399 EUR price point, which would put it in line with similar peripherals such as Thrustmaster's T500. We're seeking further clarity from Logitech and will update as soon as we hear anything back.
Sony has set up a new PlayStation developer in North West England to focus exclusively on making games for its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset.
UPDATE 1/4/15 8.55am: Sony has released the previously-leaked MotorStorm buggy DLC for DriveClub today as a special April Fools' Day present (but don't worry, this actually is real).
Evolution Studios, the developer of PlayStation 4-exclusive racing game DriveClub, is set to lose 55 staff, sources familiar with the matter have told Eurogamer.
Driveclub developer Evolution has suffered a number of layoffs, Sony has confirmed to Eurogamer.
UPDATE 16/03/2015: DriveClub update 1.12 has been released. It adds replays, better drift scores and the Ferrari 599XX Evoluzione for Driver Level 50. The patch notes are below.
The update triggers automatically when you launch the game. It weighs in at 0.6GB, bringing the total size of all DriveClub updates combined to 7.16GB.
The update prepares the PlayStation 4-exclusive racer for the Lamborghini and Pacesetter PlayStation Store updates, due to be released next week.
Sony has confirmed that it is continuing to work on the PlayStation Plus Edition of PS4-exclusive DriveClub.
The comments come after Sony Computer Entertainment Europe boss Jim Ryan recently declined to confirm whether the racer's long-delayed lite version would still launch at all.
"We are continually working on improving the server capacity to enable us to launch the PS Plus Edition as quickly as possible," a Sony spokesperson told Eurogamer.
DriveClub developer Evolution Studios has released a new update for its PlayStation 4-exclusive racer, headlined by a new Kobago, Japan track.
The 690MB patch is available to download now and brings the game up to 1.11.
6.56GB of updates have been released so far.
Driveclub owners can now gain access to five new tracks set in Japan, via today's 3.33GB game update.
The free download also includes a multiplayer time trial mode and improvements to the game's AI and weather visuals - yes, including improved rainbows.
The five new tracks (and 11 variants) are Nakasendo, Lake Shoji, Asagiri Hills Racetrack, Takahagi Hills and Goshodaira.
DriveClub's upcoming Nakasendo course has been shown off of the game's Facebook page, showing us one of the upcoming free tracks set for Sony's impressive-looking racer.
Even before launch, DriveClub was a divisive title, provoking a range of different opinions, but its fortunes weren't helped by the total collapse of the online component, souring what was - in our view, at least - an otherwise great arcade-style racing game. However, in the wake of the disaster, Evolution has been working hard to put things right. As things stand right now, the connectivity problems are resolved, plenty of new features are added to the mix, and the first pieces of DLC have been handed out for free. In terms of new features, photo mode arrived a few weeks back, but the real star of the show is the game's brand new dynamic weather system.
Evolution Studios has released a 1.4GB update for PlayStation 4-exclusive racer Driveclub that adds dynamic weather.
The new game update 1.08, available to download now, also adds two new tracks and a raft of improvements.
The headline new feature is the addition of weather for offline play and online play - the latter to be enabled when the multiplayer events are updated a little later this weekend. The two new tracks are Atlanterhavsvegen in Norway and Sinclair Pass in Canada.
The rising cost of video games in the UK helped spark a bump in inflation, official figures show.
Evolution Studios has released the DriveClub 1.07 update.
It adds Photo Mode, three new tracks and changes corner cutting.
The developer's online teams are still working to improve online play and server capacity, Evo said in a Facebook post. The PlayStation 4 exclusive racer has suffered high-profile issues since its launch in September, and the planned PS Plus Edition has been postponed indefinitely.
DriveClub's launch has been quite the rocky one with a host of server issues hampering its release and delaying its free-ish PS Plus Edition indefinitely, but developer Evolution Studios is hoping to make up for this by offering free premium DLC to those who purchased the full game.
Many gamers forked out hundreds of pounds for expensive steering wheel peripherals for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 - only to find they do not work on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Driveclub's PS Plus Edition may not yet have a release date, but Sony remains committed to releasing its long-delayed free version of Evolution's racer.
Sony has postponed Driveclub PS Plus Edition until further notice.
The majority of DriveClub owners should now be able to connect their copy of the game online, developer Evolution Studios has said.
UPDATE 16/10/14 10.45am: DriveClub developer Evolution Studios is today rolling out a new game patch and upgrading servers in an attempt to fix the racer's online mode.
Creative Assembly's horror game Alien: Isolation has entered the UK chart in second place.
UPDATE 9/10/14 6.11pm: DriveClub owners may see some online service interruptions as Evolution Studios is running some diagnostics to sort out this whole server-related mess.
It's been a long road for DriveClub, initially slated for release alongside the launch of the PlayStation 4, delayed until early 2014, then pushed back again to Q4 - a decision-making process that yielded genuine dividends based on our experience with the game at E3 and Gamescom. During this extended development period, Evolution Studios' original goal of 60fps racing gave way to a more realistic 30fps target, using the extra rendering time per frame to create state-of-the-art effects work worthy of the generational leap represented by the PlayStation hardware. The result is a game that is beautiful to behold, and considerably more impressive than the shaky builds of 2013.
Picture the scene. You're diving down an 18 per cent gradient hill along the banks of Loch Something-or-other, exhaust note screaming, tumbledown stone walls a blur as the speedometer ticks over 160mph. You're approaching a corner and billowing red flags on the right-hand side of the road warn that it's a severe left-hander, but the flatter you can make your racing line the more speed you can carry through it.
Spying a generous dusting of loose gravel on the apex, the 1000hz portion of your lizard brain that's dedicated to driving cars fast instinctively decides to drop two wheels on the dirt. At the very least it'll straighten the line through the bend and, if you're really lucky, you can even use some drag to help rotate the car for a swift exit.
Except you don't get your swift exit, because a giant, invisible hand has pinched the car's spoiler betwixt thumb and forefinger. You're dimly aware of a repetitive chiming sound as the speedo tumbles to 45mph. The DriveClub fun police have arrived, and this is their siren.
Sony has revealed its gaggle of free offerings for PlayStation Plus subscribers in October.
Evolution's PlayStation 4 exclusive racing game DriveClub supports Thrustmaster's new T80 and T300RS wheels, Sony has confirmed.
"We've been working really closely with Thrustmaster on their new T80 and T300RS wheels, to make sure that they're perfectly tuned for DriveClube and the PS4," community manager Jamie Brayshaw said on the PlayStation Blog.
And that's your lot, which means Logitech wheels are not supported. But why?
DriveClub will be getting free cars and tracks from its 8th October launch until next June.
Developer Evolution Studios' community manager Jamie Brayshaw explained on the PlayStation Blog that the studio is currently implementing a customisable weather system and Photo Mode due to popular demand.
Evolution also noted that the game currently has 55 routes and 25 tracks, but more free tracks will be added post-launch.
In our first technical preview of DriveClub last year we had Evolution Studios' racer down as a promising, if rough-edged effort - a pre-alpha build that clearly needed work. And sure enough, its appearance at Sony's 2014 Gamescom conference has shown a project revitalised in all the right areas. The frame-rate is smoother, the landscape detail massively upgraded, while a slew of new effects and lighting tricks are added. It looks like a whole new game.
It's been a fantastic year for Sony and the PlayStation 4, with a whopping 10m consoles sold. But there have been bumps along the road.
The Last Guardian remains missing in action years after it was announced. It's been in development for so long it's becoming a bit of a running joke.
There's also the issue of the delay to Evolution's racing game DriveClub. It was once due out alongside the PS4 in November 2013. Now, it'll launch almost a year later, going up against the likes of Forza Horizon 2, Project Cars and The Crew.
UPDATE 6.59pm: In addition to Driveclub's fancy new visual effects demo, Sony has announced that it will be available in an upcoming PS4 bundle priced at an RRP of €439.99.
Just under a year ago, DriveClub was not in a good place.
Earlier this month it emerged that PlayStation 4-exclusive racing game DriveClub includes micro-transactions - and it caused quite a stir.
PlayStation 4 racer DriveClub will include micro-transactions so you can pay to unlock cars quicker, Sony has revealed.
UPDATE 09/05/2014: Sony has U-turned on its DriveClub PS Plus Edition upgrade policy following an outcry from gamers.
Evolution Studios has explained the delay to DriveClub that pushed the PlayStation 4 racing game out of the console's launch window and into October 2014.
UPDATE - 5.37pm: Sony has confirmed the DriveClub PlayStation Plus Edition will launch alongside the main game on 8th October.
This will be free for PlayStation Plus subscribers.
"PlayStation Plus subscribers will be able to download DriveClub PlayStation Plus Edition at no extra charge on launch day," a Sony spokesperson told Eurogamer.
UPDATE 5.01PM: Sony has issued a new statement on Driveclub and assured that all is well after the recent lay-offs at Evolution Studios.
Sony has this morning laid off an unconfirmed number of staff at three UK developers - Evolution Studios, Guerrilla Cambridge and SCE London Studio.
Two brief clips from PlayStation 4 racer Driveclub have shown off the game's use of next-gen dynamic lighting.
The quick snippets of footage were captured by Driveclub developer Evolution using the PS4's Share function and then uploaded to Facebook.
"Because the skies are organic and dynamic in Driveclub, none of our lighting is baked or painted on, so this exact moment is a once in a lifetime event!", the developer wrote.
Sony has filed patents that may relate to its PlayStation 4 virtual reality headset.
UPDATE: Sony has confirmed the delay of PS4 launch title Driveclub delay until "early 2014" and announced details of new offers for PlayStation Plus subscribers who previously would have been able to play a free version of the game.
Indie title Contrast will now be offered for free at launch for Plus members, and Sony will grant an "open weekend" trial of Killzone Shadow Fall's multiplayer on 28th-29th December.
In a lengthy statement posted to both the US and EU PlayStation blogs, Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida explained that Driveclub's postponement was due to the game simply needing more time.
Sony's PlayStation executives hope with PS4 this time things will be different. This time, Sony launches alongside Microsoft, not 16 months afterwards like with PS3. This time, Sony is cheaper than Xbox, not hundreds of pounds more. And this time, Sony is taking a gamer-first approach - and that, it seems, is translating into real world business.
Sony plans to enter the virtual reality gaming space in a big way with PlayStation 4, Eurogamer can reveal.
Sony failed to mention Gaikai once during its Gamescom press conference.
PlayStation 4 racing game DriveClub's PlayStation Plus Edition is the full game minus a few cars and tracks, developer Evolution Studios has said.
Sony and Microsoft can at least agree on one thing: next-gen game pricing.
Sony boss Kaz Hirai has insisted the PlayStation 4 is "first and foremost" a game console.
A new Sony PlayStation 4 advert suggests the next-gen console will be out in the UK in 2013.
US retail giant GameStop has moved to remind Microsoft and Sony why it reckons always-online consoles that don't play second-hand games are a bad idea.
Don't panic when you see shops like The Hut charging £70 for a PS4 game, because Sony hasn't set any prices yet.
Sony's PlayStation 4 press conference was a pitch to developers as well as gamers. The console's architecture chief Mark Cerny talked more about CPUs and GPUs and teraflops than he did his own game, Knack. He described the PS4's architecture as like a PC's but "super-charged for gaming". PS4 is "a platform by game creators, for game creators", he said.
Last night's PlayStation 4 unveiling included a flurry of new game announcements, and confirmation of the 60-odd games companies which are already signed up to support Sony's next-gen console.
Deep Down (working title) - Capcom
Destiny - Bungie
"I'm not directly managing third-party relations," says Shuhei Yoshida, when I ask him a question that pretty much has nothing to do with the area of Sony Computer Entertainment for which he is responsible.