Missing The Mark

If the saying 'The first blow is half the battle' is even remotely true, it's honestly surprising to see that this latest DLC expansion for Assetto Corsa is not laying six feet under as I'm writing this.

The Ferrari 70th Anniversary DLC Pack launched on October 31st for PS4 and Xbox One, bringing 7 cars (we'll get to them in a bit) from the company's rich history to the game. At least, that's what was supposed to happen.

Immediately after launch, Xbox players (including yours truly) experienced problems with the pack. After purchasing it from Xbox' storefront, the cars could not be accessed. Any attempts to select any of the seven cars sent you straight back to the storefront, as if you hadn't purchased it yet.

Players anxiously waited for a patch to be able to drive the cars they paid for. But the wait continued. And continued. In the end, Kunos announced via Twitter on November 15th (a full two weeks after the pack's launch) that a patch had been approved and was about to be launched. later that day, the patch was indeed available.

Sure, two weeks is a very long time to wait for a patch to a DLC pack. And I might have been able to forgive them... if this was the first time Assetto Corsa had DLC troubles. But it isn't. Type in 'Assetto Corsa DLC Problems' into Google and you'll find one forum post after another about DLC packs not working properly. I personally vividly recall the Porsche packs having serious issues and having to wait about six months for update v 1.14 (the Highlands Update) to launch.

At some point you stop going 'Don't be too harsh, they're a small studio, they're doing their best' and start to become increasingly frustrated at a studio that does not seem to learn from past mistakes and keeps putting out DLC packs full of bugs and glitches.

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But enough about the problems, let's talk about content. Like I mentioned, this pack adds seven new cars to the game, one of which was chosen as result of a fanvote. The seven cars in question:

  • 1962 250 GTO
  • 1967 330 P4
  • 1967 312/67
  • 1984 288 GTO
  • 2004 F2004 
  • 2017 812 Superfast
  • 2017 SF70H

I think you'll agree those last three are the eyecatchers in this pack. Neither of them feature in other games (the SF70H and F2004 do appear in Codemasters' licensed F1 2017) so it really feels special to have these three exclusively on Assetto Corsa. As for the others: it's not really anything new. They're all cars we have seen in previous games, with the exception of the 312/67. As far as I know, it hasn't appeared in any recent racing title.

In theory, there's plenty of stuff to like here. New supercars, F1 cars both new and old, it's all here. But are they any good where it matters: on track?

Let's start with my absolute highlight out of this pack: the F2004. The car that brought Michael Schumacher a record 13 out of 18 race wins and his fifth straight World Championship in 2004.

This car has been brought to life in an incredible way. The sound is immaculate, the sense of speed tremendous and handling is brilliant. The attention to detail is so great that Schumacher's and Barrichello's helmets have even been rendered properly. Selecting the 'Schumacher' livery will see you driving with his actual helmet, which is a really neat detail.

The F2004 is the MVP of this pack. The sound, speed and handling make it an utter joy to drive and will see you go for flying laps again and again, if you're anything like me.

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The same can unfortunately not be said for the winner of the fanvote: the SF70H. This F1 season would have you believe the new generation of F1 cars are fast enough to match the lap times set by the cars from 2004. But with the SF70H, this was not the case.

It did not even come close to the F2004 in terms of speed and lap times. I sent them both around Imola, and the new kid on the block was a full six seconds slower. Mind you, this was with MGU-K recovery and delivery on the fastest possible settings.

The lap times were a good indication of a lack of speed, but the overall experience didn't live up to expectations. At no point did the SF70H feel even remotely as fast as I felt it should.

 The SF70H does not deliver.

The SF70H does not deliver.

Which brings us to the final headline grabber: the 812 Superfast. Powered by a new 6,5L V12 with 789 hp, this makes it the most powerful naturally aspirated production car ever made. And, unsurprisingly, it's incredibly fast. But that all falls apart as soon as you arrive at a corner.

The 812 is a disaster when it comes to cornering. It's slow, heavy and unresponsive. It felt like I was trying to pilot a boat around Vallelunga. I gave up after a few laps because I got increasingly frustrated with the way the thing handled.

 789 hp from your V12 is all well and good, but when you can't get round a corner, you're not going anywhere.

789 hp from your V12 is all well and good, but when you can't get round a corner, you're not going anywhere.

So what about the rest? 

The 312 is a fun car to drive. Light, fast, quick and responsive. Coupled with the fact it's a car we haven't really seen before, that makes it one of the best in the pack.

The 330/P4 was a joy to drive, as was the 250 GTO, even though it was somewhat of a handful.

But that in itself raises a problem: there's not really anything new there. Don't get me wrong, Tifosi will probably love this pack. But the big issue I have is the fact that the majority of the pack is filled with things that have been done to death in other games. This pack doesn't feel special, which is troubling considering this is supposed be the celebration of Ferrari's big anniversary.

And when it does provide with something new, when it does give unique cars, it often does not deliver like you would normally expect from Assetto Corsa.

This might sound like an exaggeration, but as far as I'm concerned, the F2004 is the only genuinely great thing about this pack. And paying 6,99 for a pack with only one good car isn't really worth it for me.

Sorry, Kunos. You missed the mark this time.