We’ve now been able to spend some time with Project CARS 3, and it still feels like we’ve only just scratched the surface of the game. For this check-in, we’re going to explore what’s on offer early in the game, from the first moments you’ve fired up the game to the point where you might start to feel you’ve got a hang for what’s under the hood.
Right from the starting line, Project CARS 3 doesn’t waste any time getting you behind the wheel. The first minutes of the game will see you hop into a souped up sports car for your first time trial. You’ll quickly see how fully realized the track is with different levels of traction, your revs soaring at the tops of hills or grinding down if you miss a gear shift.
That introduction is part of the First Time User Experience, guiding you through the key aspects of racing. Old pros who won’t hesitate at rounding a corner at 90mph in the rain can skip right past this to the core of the game.
Once you’re in the game, you’ve got some options. If you know exactly which track you want to drive on, what weather conditions you want to brave, and what car you want to test, you can immediately jump into the Custom Event mode. Online multiplayer is also available with Quick Play, Scheduled Events, and a Custom Lobby. A competitive Rivals mode is also available. But, we won’t be getting into those online modes just yet.
For anyone looking to get familiar with all that Project CARS 3 has to offer in terms of raceways, cars, style customizations, mechanical upgrades, and race types, the campaign mode will take you through all of it.
It may be a bit jarring to go straight from your first race in a power sports car to a lowly Class E road car, but the humble beginning point will help you get familiar with all the fundamentals. You’ll get led through the different game modes from hot lap, where you need to set as fast a time as possible, or pace setter, where you need to complete three flawless laps quickly, as well as others. You’ll also find various objectives to complete in race. Instead of always focusing on winning, some events will force you to practice perfecting corners or passing opponents cleanly.
As you progress, you’ll earn credits that you can spend on new cars or use to upgrade your existing car. We took a 1999 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI T.M.E to start in Class E and kept upgrading it to improve our times on the track.
Some races require particular cars – maybe a specific model in one race or a specific country’s car in another race. Playing through the campaign, you’ll run into these experiences and quickly learn how different each car can behave. After blasting through our first races in the all-wheel-drive Lancer, we were entirely thrown off for our first race in a rear-wheel-drive muscle car. Each vehicle requires you to learn it, just as each track does.
The campaign makes that clear, especially as a track you might have mastered in dry weather can suddenly turn into a different beast when it’s slicked with rain. But, you can keep a certain sense of familiarity throughout. We were able to keep racing our Lancer from Class E up through the Hypercar class in many races thanks to the many performance upgrades available. It went from a slow-and-steady cornering king to an acceleration powerstation once we upgraded everything under the hood.
We picked up a few other cars along the way, some to meet specific race requirements, others because they were on sale. You’ll find each behaves uniquely, and though you can stick with one car for many races, you may find a thrill in seeing just how different it feels to go down the same track in two different cars.
While all that there is to experience early in the game may seem overwhelming, Project CARS 3 offers plenty of different ways to experience the game. A variety of assists are available from steering and braking to traction control, automatic transmission, track guides and more. You can jump in with a controller and all the assists turned on, or go fully manual and use a racing wheel. If you want, you can even buckle in for virtual reality, as the whole game is playable in VR.
Though we’re already racing in the Hypercar class, there’s still a ton more to explore. So, stay tuned for more as we explore further into the campaign and online modes and test our steering on the many incredible mechanical marvels we have yet to try.