Preview World of Speed Preview First look at Slightly Mad free-to-play racer.

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    World of Speed hopes to combine triple-A visuals with an MMO racing experience

    Famous for its work on the Need for Speed: Shift series and upcoming next-gen release Project Cars, Slightly Mad Studios is working on another new racer with a twist.

    World of Speed is a "free-to-compete" racing game for the PC, and one that's modelled after the massively-multiplayer online role-playing genre.

    In case you're wondering, there's no dungeons, dragons, mages and magic, just a healthy dose of teamwork and plenty of loot. Much like the MMO, Slightly Mad is also planning to support World of Speed for years to come, adding new cars, modes and courses as the game evolves.

    "What we kind of looked at was that nobody has done an MMO kind of experience," creative director Andy Tudor told Digital Spy.

    "In an MMORPG you are progressing through levels, you are earning the best things, crafting new items, and working as a team to complete quests. We thought, 'Yeah, that would translate really well to cars'.


    Players must work together as a team to complete objectives

    "You progress through levels - we've had that in our previous games - you earn the best cars, you bolt the best things onto those cars, and then the final bit was playing as a team to complete quests. It was a perfect fit."

    Tudor admits that it's difficult to stop players from treating races like giant free-for-alls and start working together as a team. The solution is a host of mandatory team-based objectives that lessen the impact of a podium finish and take the pressure off the individual online competitor.

    "We found that the toolset wasn't there for players, or the communication wasn't there for players to really make them feel like it wasn't a big free-for-all. You put people into a situation where you tell them it's the blue team or red team to win, and everybody plays like it's just a big deathmatch game.

    "So we thought we needed to fix this. It hasn't really been done in a racing game before, and we feel it's really cool because it takes a lot of the pressure off the online competitive experience.


    Racing fans will be able to compete in street courses such as London

    "You go into an online competitive experience and you are seventh place and you start to blame your competitors because you think they're faster than you, or they've got better cars and knocked you off at the first corner, and it's not a great experience.

    "In a team-based game that takes the pressure off, in that no matter where you are in the position of a race, if one of your teammates is doing well, you can support them in a way.

    "This is where our objectives came in. Team-based objectives are mandatory things that you have to complete, because completing them determines who the eventual winner of the event is."

    Finishing in first is one objective, of course, but teams and drivers will also be rewarded for drifting for 1,000 metres, drafting behind competitors and using nitrous to hit those high speeds.


    Victorious teams will 'own' courses

    "The red team may be in position one, two, three and four, but if the blue team completes all of their objectives that contributes to the end score, then potentially the blue team ends up winning," Tudor explains. "Everybody has to maximise the way they drive."

    Individually, almost everything you do in World of Speed generates driver score, which can be used to buy new cars, liveries and more. As a team and club, however, victories in locations such as Moscow or London gives you ownership of that particular course. Locations can then be fought over in team-based game modes such as Territory Wars.

    In theory, if a team wants to keep hold of a territory then they'll need a diverse mixture of vehicles in order to hit the maximum number of objectives. In this respect, cars almost feel like character classes, something which further hearkens back to the MMO.

    "The objectives are all collaborative, so it goes back to the MMO idea of having a support class, the medic of a team, whereas somebody else is the tank and goes really fast, or the guy who blocks everyone, or the guy who does the drifting," Tudor continues.


    Other street courses include Moscow

    "There are no specific classes in the game, but players will find that maybe the muscle cars make really good blocking cars, whereas the supercars are really fast, obviously, but maybe have less grip, for example.

    "That's what we want to do. We want people to own a class as it were, and find a team where you fit into that team because you are the support guy, you are the blocker, you are the drafter, the drifter and then that team works as a whole."

    Tudor assures us that the World of Speed experience will be accessible for free, although players will be able to accelerate their progress by paying cash.

    "Our attitude has always been that, you know, everything we do in terms of any extra money that you need to pay is purely to accelerate your progress throughout the game.


    Teams will need a range of cars to complete every objective

    "In mobile, we never want to ever make it feel like you are gated in terms of the content, that's completely unfair, and we would never ever want you to feel like you are at a disadvantage to somebody else who has paid.

    "In World of Speed, you will never go into a race and somebody will accelerate away because they've bought a nitrous pack or something like that. That sucks, and it's obvious that sucks, so we will never do that."

    If Slightly Mad is able to nail the free-to-play formula, then World of Speed has the potential to win a lot of fans.

    The visuals are superb, the gameplay is accessible - you can play it with a keyboard - and the cars are very, very fast. Authentic race courses such as Brands Hatch and Laguna Seca will appeal to fans of the racing sim, while street circuits in Moscow and London should resonate with arcade racing fans.

    However, with the recent Dungeon Keeper fiasco fresh in everybody's minds, Slightly Mad's biggest challenge might be to convince racing fans that 'free-to-play' isn't a dirty term.

    World of Speed will be available on PC in 2014.

    Source Digital Spy.

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