Motorsport Games issued a press release announcing the exclusive Nintendo Switch title and released the first teaser trailer. The new NASCAR game, which will be available on October 14, 2022, will focus solely on the Cup Series while including the Next Gen cars, paint schemes, and tracks from the 2022 season.
“It’s been really cool to work with NASCAR and the teams and the manufacturers to really kind of focus on the Next Gen cars and accurately represent them in the game,” Jay Pennell, Motorsport Games Brand Manager, told Heavy. “Obviously, this is a huge moment for the sport of NASCAR, and there’s a lot of changes that go on within the cars. And we’ve seen that reflected with all the great action we’ve seen all year on the track.”
“NASCAR Rivals” will be available exclusively for the Nintendo Switch upon its launch in the heart of the Cup Series playoffs. Preorders will begin on August 24 at the price of $49.99.
Like other NASCAR releases from Motorsport Games, there will be several options for players to customize. These details include the lengths of the races and whether there are stages. They also extend to the player character and an expansive paint booth featuring a large assortment of sponsors.
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“I think what you kind of saw in ‘NASCAR 21: Ignition’ in terms of the paint booth is what we’re kind of replicating on ‘Rivals,'” Pennell said. “So a level of customization and creativity that wasn’t there until that handheld product last year. I think it’s something [where] we’ve seen a lot of really cool creations on the console side and started seeing that on Switch as well.”
The Next Gen Difficulty Should Translate to ‘NASCAR Rivals’
A key storyline from the 2022 season has been the number of drivers that have lost control and spun. Tyler Reddick, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Erik Jones are only some of the examples of drivers that have dealt with issues during practice, qualifying, or the races themselves.
Players should not expect to see constant spins on the track. What they will see is an increasing level of difficulty based on the settings and the number of assists that are currently active. Though there will also be some incidents created by the AI drivers, which players will have to navigate through with help from in-game spotter Freddie Kraft.
“I think really, the settings and the difficulties that we have — any assists that we have — if you run normal, you’re gonna be challenged, but you will be fine,” Pennell added. “The AI can react against you. If you bump it up to hard, it’s gonna be a little bit more difficult, and you’re gonna have to practice. But if you take all the assists off and play, good luck trying to keep the car under you.
“I think as we adjust those difficulty settings, it’s more so in the players’ hands of people spinning out and just trying to get a feel for how hard they can push the car. Whereas we try and keep the AI a little bit more consistent in that regard. But you will see AI crashing and things like that. So it’s not like they’re just constantly locked in place.”
The AI behavior will also come into play in other scenarios. The game focuses on the rivalries on the track, so there will be different reactions from certain drivers based on the player’s reputation. For example, Martin Truex Jr. may race players more aggressively if they took part in previous on-track incidents.
“Even in career mode, [AI drivers] will start racing you differently based on how you race them,” Pennell said. “So there is kind of this rivals aspect of the career mode that the AI will race you the way you race them, so if they’re mad at you, they’re gonna race you that way. If you’re friendly with them, or they’re happy with you, they’re more willing to work with you and push the draft.”
A Fan-Favorite Mode Makes Its Return
There are several modes that will be available for those that purchase “NASCAR Rivals” on the Nintendo Switch. There will be a career mode where they can create their own team or driver and pursue the Cup Series championship, split-screen multiplayer for one-on-one battles, a race now mode for quick events, local multiplayer for gamers on the same network, and online multiplayer featuring up to 16 drivers.
One other option is the challenge mode, which makes its return for the Nintendo Switch game. This mode puts players into real-life situations inspired by the NASCAR Cup Series. They will have to try to recreate history or put their own twists on incidents that unfolded during the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
The launch-day edition of “NASCAR Rivals” will focus on events that unfolded during the final season of the Gen 6 era due to the timing of the release. Kyle Larson’s dominant win in the Coca-Cola 600 was teased in the first screenshots from the game while Pennell confirmed that the Martinsville cutoff race will be in the game as well. This race adds the opportunity to potentially pit Denny Hamlin and Alex Bowman against each other in a high-stakes playoff race.
The game will launch with challenges from the 2021 season, but there will be more on the way. Motorsport Games already has plans in place for a full slate of challenges that focus entirely on the 2022 season. Some will feature in-race moments while others might lean toward historic qualifying laps.
“As we look forward to post-launch, we will have multiple DLC packs that will be available after launch,” Pennell added. “And as we look at those packs, included in those will be a series of new challenges that will be geared towards the ’22 season. So you’ll see some things that are related to on-track activity, but other things where you might have to be Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain and figure it out.”