My Gamescom 2023 highlight was an RPG inspired by the best PS2-era racing games

(Image credit: PQube)

In a short demo of the upcoming RPG Resistor, I'm racing through a track on the sandy plains of a desert, trying to pull off slick stunts behind the wheel of a turbocharged car. After getting to grips with the controls thanks to the guidance of CEO and director Violet McVinnie, I land some spiraling corkscrew jumps and drifts, before veering close to another vehicle. Then, once I'm directly next to the other racer, I spin my car and smash right into them. Everything slows down for a spell to let me soak in the carnage as my hit sends the other car soaring off to the side. All these tricks rack up my style points, which will help to build up my reputation in the world. While the demo is a very early pre-alpha build, I'm immediately taken by how stylish and fast it all is. 

From the off, it's easy to see how Resistor draws from PS2 era arcade racers, with McVinnie telling me just moments before that the vehicular combat, high-speed racing, and stunts are inspired by the likes of Burnout 3: Takedown, Need for Speed, and SSX. While racing plays a big part in developer Long Way Home's new adventure, it also pulls from McVinnie's 15 years of experience working on AAA RPGs to deliver a deep, character-driven narrative. 

"So I've worked on the Mass Effect trilogy and the Dragon Age trilogy. And from that, I learned a lot about RPGs and RPG making," McVinnie says. "At the same time, I also like those kinds of arcade racing games, and nobody has really combined those into an experience where you get all that fun, but also a deep, character-driven kind of narrative at the same time. So I wanted to try and combine that." 

Racing aspirations 


(Image credit: PQube)

As a fan of racing games and RPGs, Resistor speaks to me in more ways than one. Not least because it will allow you to create your own character, get to know a colorful cast, and make choices that will shape the direction of your story. Set in the year 2060, the open-world adventure centers around a racing tournament that takes place in one of the seven city states. 

The tournament is organized by Ethan Dekker, who's described as a "classic corpo bad guy" on the surface, but there may just be a bit more to him. Dekker is played by Mark Meer – who you might know as the male Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect trilogy – and he's just one of several characters we'll encounter. With many NPCs to meet and recruit, friends to make, and side stories to uncover in the open-world, McVinnie explains that the team is striving to create an experience that's designed to be replayed, with different routes, approaches, and even roles to explore. 

Gamescom 2023


(Image credit: Gamescom)

GamesRadar+ was in Cologne, Germany to play the most anticipated new games of 2023 and beyond. For more hands-on previews, interviews, news, and features, be sure to visit the Gamescom 2023 coverage hub for all of our exclusive access and reporting. 

"I didn't want to make an overblown kind of long winded narrative," McVinne says. "What we're focusing on is creating a kind of reasonably large eight hour experience, all focused around the tournament. The context of everything around the tournament changes based on your character interactions. So where there's always roles to play, there's going to be a villain, there's going to be a hero, there might be a mentor, there might be friends, who plays those roles, changes based on your interactions with those characters." 

"So you can end up as the villain, you could end up as the good guy. You could end up as a mentor, it could go through these different kinds of routes. It's encouraging a lot of replayability rather than just focusing on doing one like a really long plotline. We want you to have a really unique story, talk about it with your friends, find out what their drastically different kinds of results are for their situation. And encourage you to really play it again and again." 

Choose your racer


(Image credit: PQube)

"You can make difficult choices, and those can cause problems for you. But you have a chance to redeem yourself potentially later on; even up to the very, very end of the game."

Violet McVinnie

Prior to my fast-paced race in the demo, I get to see an animated cutscene that's preceded by a quick glimpse into Resistors' character creator. What sets the creator apart from most is the fact that you actually make your character as a kid who's envisioning the kind of racer they want to be. It's such a neat approach and one that plants a big smile on my face. We've all imagined ourselves as something greater as we stand in front of the mirror, after all. Then, I watch as the kid gets into a handmade little kart and begins to race down a driveway, only for it to smoothly transition into the race I take part in when they're all grown up. 

From there, Resistor looks set to let us shape our own journey. While we'll be presented with choices as we make our way through the tournament that can lead us in certain directions, the route you take won't be completely set by just one choice. As McVinnie explains, we can even try to redeem ourselves or change our path at a late stage if we want to, which speaks to me as someone who loves meaningful choice-based experiences. 

"You can make difficult choices, and those can cause problems for you," McVinnie says. "But you have a chance to redeem yourself potentially later on; even up to the very, very end of the game. If you're going the bad arc, you can potentially try and redeem yourself at the end. Or if you're going good, you can switch to being evil really late."

Reputation is the name of the game, with you trying to rise through the ranks using your stylish racing prowess. Interestingly, in this world, racers are akin to wrestlers in the sense that you can choose what character you want to assume when you hit the track. So your character essentially plays a character, and just like pro wrestlers have showy intros that feeds into their persona, you too have your own intro sequence before a race. You can decide on your own costume and what song plays, and you'll see first hand what other racers are like when they are and aren't behind the wheel. 

Resistor is an exciting combination of ideas and I can't wait to see how it shapes up and what kind of racer I can become. 

Resistor is coming soon to PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and Switch.

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.