Project CARS is built by and for gearheads, and it looks its range of customization options will extend beyond the cars and into the game itself - even on consoles. Preview builds of the crowdfunded racing game include fairly extensive visual customization settings on PS4 and Xbox One, according to screenshots from Digital Foundry, letting players adjust everything from post-processing filters, to bloom, to the field of view for each individual camera.
Publisher Bandai Namco has "guaranteed" a final release date of May 8 for Project Cars in the UK, but it's not yet clear whether the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game will include the same range of visual tweaks.
It's an interesting proposition, and one that prompted some discussion here at GR+. Here's what myself, fellow staff writer David Roberts, and executive news editor Leon Hurley thought about adding more PC-style visual tweaks to console games.
CS: They're not letting you change the resolution or anti-aliasing or anything like that. They're just letting you change stuff like lens flare, post-processing, vignette, "crepuscular rays" - things that people can be picky about.
LH: So it does look like this is to let you fine tune the look of the game more than anything else, rather than a way of tweaking in-game optimisation.
CS: Yes. Basically, I'm thinking of this from the point of view of my brother, who hated the film grain in Mass Effect. I didn't mind it at all, but he was super glad that he could turn it off on PC. This just seems to be addressing his kind of concerns, on console.
DR: It looks like there are field of view sliders as well, so you can mess with that. Something like that would change the performance of the game as it tries to draw more details on the screen.
LH: I could see me locked into near seizures unable to decide if I was making it better or worse. FOV is an interesting one. PC gamers are really touchy about that.
DR: See, that's the thing. I play console games because I hate dealing with stuff like this. I don't want to tweak, I don't want to prod. I just want to put the game in and have it work.
CS: We also have to keep in mind the target demographic of Project CARS, which is people who are utterly into tiny details like these. Most gamers aren't, but CARS is a hardcore, customizable racer - a niche of a niche.
LH: Someone raised the interesting point that that they'd happily lower texture quality to get a better framerate if they could on PS4. Not an option here, but an interesting idea.
DR: I do think console games could be served by having more simplistic tweaking options. Like in The Last of Us: Remastered, you just hit a button and you either get 60fps or 30fps with better lighting.
CS: That sounds good in theory, but it's also not something that I particularly want more developers to have to start worrying about. I'm usually fine with playing the experience as intended in most cases - whatever that developer's intentions happened to be. If not I'll play on PC and install some mods, y'know?
DR: I don't think games need this level of customizability, but yeah, I think having a simple switch would be nice. Different players care about different things, and having a simple option like that would go a long way to giving everyone what they want.
CS: In this case it's a very good fit for the Project CARS ethos, but it may be more trouble than it's worth elsewhere.
It's tough to see more options ever being a bad thing - as long as the basic product still works well - but clearly there's a lot to consider here. If many PS4 and Xbox One players bother twiddling all the knobs that Simply Mad Studios looks ready to provide them, console graphics options could well become the next Photo Mode.