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Preview: Sébastien Loeb rally EVO

Sébastien Loeb Rally EVO recently got delayed and won’t release before 2016. It might sound as bad news but it’s actually good that the developers want more time for their project. During Gamescom 2015, we were able to play an alpha version of the game and there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Meet the developers

Milestone is the developer of this new rally game and it’s the first time they’re tackling a rally game of this scale. It’s no surprise that they’ve called in the help of Sébastien Loeb himself. For those unfamiliar with rally, Loeb has won the World Rally Championship nine times and knows how a true rally experience should feel. Loeb wasn’t present during the Gamescom presentation but instead we got a rather shy developer who actually didn’t really believed in the demo he was about to show to the press. The demo itself was played with a racing wheel on the Neste Oil Rally Finland-parcours. It’s a short parcours so that everybody got the opportunity to play but most of the journalists weren’t pleased with what they just played, neither was I.

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A lot of work to do

Before we could start playing, the developers stressed out that this is still an early alpha version and that a lot will change before the game hit stores, we hope they’ll listen to our feedback as well. The first meters in our car felt good, the road felt like it should and just like in real life you need to find the right balance between accelerating and hitting the brakes. Things went wrong the moment we hit the first turn on the track.

Regardless our speed, we couldn’t succeed in taking this simple turn, the result was a flipped-over car and a waste of time. The car should have taken a lot of damage but that wasn’t visible at all. When we asked why the damage model wasn’t active, the developers told us it was activated. This was our first real disappointment, a crash like that shouldn’t result in just a few nearly visible scratches on our hood. The developers did say that we’d be able to switch between a minimal and realistic damage model in the final game. We’re hoping we played the game using a minimal damage model for sure.

This isn’t rally, this is arcade racing

During our entire lap on the parcours, we couldn’t help but feel that this is an arcade racer instead of a realistic rally experience. Even while driving into a small bush at high speed, the bush will stop you or bounce you around on the track. It’s strange that every small object seemed to have the power to bring us to a stop our bounce us around on the track. Creating shortcuts, by cutting of turns in the woods for example, weren’t possible neither. The moment we drove a little off-track, we were immediately brought back to the track thanks to a ‘respawn’. This doesn’t feel like a realistic experience at all and we simply couldn’t hide our disappointment.

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The roadholding feels right 

Aside of the strong objects and arcade handling of the vehicle we must say that the roadholding itself felt rather right. Gaining speed before you turn will result in a crash but if you brake before you enter the turn and accelerate the moment you’re leaving it, you’ll have no trouble to control your vehicle at all. It appears that Sébastien Loeb had a lot to say when it comes to this ‘feeling of the roads’ and we must say the developers definitely are on the right track to deliver a true-to-life experience.

Hopes for the final game

So again, we didn’t had the best time playing this version of the game but the developers did share some insights about the final product. The most important mode will be the career mode in which no other than Sébastien Loeb himself will be your mentor. In this mode you’ll be able to replay key moments of the Rally sports in your own car. Speaking of cars, there are a total of fifty cars that will be worked out to perfection and there’re more than thirty playable tracks. Also keep in mind that the game will feature an online mode and you know you’ll get a lot of content for your money. The ideas are there, now let’s just hope Milestone figures out a way to deliver their promises.

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Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.