A few weeks ago, we were wondering about the state of single player SimRacing – is it slowly dying, or does it have a future? Our conclusion: It may not be as important as it once was, but it should be here to stay. But what to do if you are an offline SimRacer these days? Here are some suggestions to keep having fun without the multiplayer aspect.
1 – Racing vs the AI
To get the obvious entry out of the way first: Yes, it is absolutely possible to have fun racing against AI opponents in SimRacing in 2022. Automobilista 2 is a strong candidate for this, as developer Reiza Studios keeps putting in work to make the computer-controlled competition more believable and better to race against. RaceRoom’s AI is not too shabby either, and even iRacing offers the option – though only for certain car and track combos. Those that are available are among the better AI experiences, however. Of course, the F1 series, still focuses on offline racing as well, offering the possibility of having exciting battles with the AI.
1b – Immerse Yourself
Tying in closely with the first entry on our list, taking the extra step to achieve peak immersion may be worth it for racing the AI. Try and recreate a certain race with its full grid, conditions and track layout to feel like you are really at the track, maybe in a long-gone year. There is nothing quite like sitting in a virtual V10-powered F1 car, with the rest of the field using the proper liveries of a certain season and Crew Chief in your ear informing you that Mika Häkkinen just set the fastest lap of the race at a circa-2000 version of Silverstone. Assetto Corsa and rFactor 2 with their countless mods or AMS2 (using custom AI files and liveries) are your best bets for this, while ACC works well for modern GT World Series seasons right out of the box.
2 – Career Mode
An extension of the first suggestion, a few games and sims offer a career mode for you to spend countless hours on. The F1 series, as mentioned, offers this, and has the most in-depth career mode out there today. Whether you want to just focus on driving or feel like you would rather create and manage your own team as well, the F1 games have you covered.
Project Cars 2 is another sim with a decent career mode, making you rise through the ranks of smaller national series’, be it open wheelers, touring or GT cars. There is not too much underneath the motorsports ladder system, though. Other titles that have interesting and deep career modes are the WRC and DIRT Rally series.
3 – Practice Your Wet Weather Driving
Rain is a core element of endurance racing, and yet, when it starts pouring in an online event, not too many SimRacer seem prepared for this. We posted an article on this a few weeks ago, urging more SImRacers to try racing in the rain – which is a formidable single-player exercise. Try it with different levels of rain to keep you on your toes – most sims feature accelerated time to simulate going from a dry track to a wet one (and vice versa) quicker. In AMS2, you can even recreate those famous downpours that derailed some of your favorite races, like the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, thanks to the authentic weather feature. Assetto Corsa Competizione is another great candidate to practice your wet-weather driving, as is rFactor 2.
4 – Rallying
Due to its very nature, Rally is the perfect single-player SimRacing discipline. Cars start in intervals, meaning they rarely encounter each other while driving the stages, and while it is nice to be able to compare your times to online leaderboards, the actual driving is no different whether your playing offline or online. The WRC and DIRT Rally series are ideal for this, but Beam.NG drive also offers point-to-point courses. While the latter is still a sandbox game at its core, the driving physics keep improving, making it a good alternative to go rallying.
5 – Try New Car and Track Combinations
SimRacers tend to stick with what they know, meaning they are missing out on a lot of potentially enjoyable scenarios. Once you remove yourself from the thought of racing GT3 cars at Monza or Spa for the 28th time in a row, you can find a ton of great combinations. To name a few and give you some inspiration, here are some examples:
- Group C at Classic Kyalami
- Circa 2000 F1 at Imola (both modern and historically accurate versions work)
- BTCC/STW touring cars at the short AVUS
- 50s F1 cars at vintage tracks like Bremgarten
There are so many more great scenarios that are possible in SimRacing, of course – have fun exploring!
6 – Free Roaming
It does not always have to be racing, does it? Numerous tracks for free roaming exist in Assetto Corsa, and some of them are of spectacular quality. We published an article on this a while ago, but the core principle has not changed – put on a relaxing playlist (or one for working out if you want to violate as many speed limits as you can) in the background, choose your favorite street-legal car or supercar and just enjoy a nice drive into the sunset. It can feel almost therapeutic after the stresses of competitive online racing.
7 – Fire Up an Old Classic
They may not necessarily look like it in their stock form, but there are older sims that still hold up quite well today: If you have not tried GTR2 in a while, it might be worth a shot. If you are less into endurance racing but more into an F1 sim with physics that are still exquisite 20 years after the release, give Grand Prix 4 a try – though that is going to require a bit of fiddling to get it up and running properly. More on that soon – hopefully. The first entries into the AMS and rFactor franchises are great choices as well, as there are numerous interesting mods available.
Bonus points for older sims: Hardware performance likely will not be an issue with most titles.
8 – Scenarios in BeamNG.Drive
Technically, the scenarios in BeamNG.Drive are not strictly SimRacing – while many of them feature rallys or street races, there are numerous ones that feature, among other things, things like car chases. Still, they are a formidable way of spending your rig time, especially since the title features an enormous amount of exciting mods. And if the challenges are not your thing, the crash physics alone make for hours of entertainment.