Racing games are typically classified into three types. Arcade racing games like Need for Speed, simulation racing games like Assetto Corsa, and Simcade racing games like Forza fall somewhere in the middle. They all appeal to different demographics, with arcade racers attracting a more casual player base. But what if you made an arcade racing game specifically for fans of the genre's more serious entries? Redout 2 would be the result.
Redout 2 is a futuristic arcade racing game with surprising driving mechanic complexity. You can't just drift through every corner and blast down every straight. To achieve respectable lap times, a lot of factors must be considered and managed simultaneously. Those who want to get really good should plan on playing hundreds, if not thousands, of hours in advance.
The use of both analogue sticks as a core part of driving is one of Redout 2's distinguishing features. The left stick is used to turn, as expected. However, simply turning and braking will not suffice. You must also use the right stick to control pitch and strafe. Strafe causes your ship to lean horizontally, whereas pitch causes your ship to lean vertically. You must use strafe to quickly navigate tight corners and pitch to climb or drop-down steep inclines without taking damage.
Taking less damage is important because your ship's health is critical to using boost effectively. You have a boost bar that fills up as you use boost. You must wait for it to drop again once it is full. However, Redout 2 allows you to continue boosting past the bar's limit. This severely damages your ship but allows you to continue boosting. You're taking unnecessary damage if you don't use pitch and strafe correctly. You won't be able to push your health as far while over-boosting if you take unnecessary damage. Less boost means less speed, which means slower lap times.
It's difficult to learn how to manage all of these different factors while also navigating Redout 2's wild tracks. When I say that the difficulty curve of Redout 2 is less forgiving than that of most simulation racing games, I am not exaggerating. Most people, I believe, will find this game extremely frustrating at first. It doesn't help that the tutorial is subpar. The Rookie Academy – Boosting tutorial is particularly vexing because it is simply too difficult for the third event you participate in.
Despite its lacklustre approachability, Redout 2 can be a tremendously satisfying game. There is no better feeling than when everything comes together and you nail a corner or set a new best lap time. Because driving mechanics are so difficult to master, it's extremely rewarding when you get it right. Not everyone will enjoy having to fail repeatedly in order to improve, but there will be racers who enjoy Redout's unforgiving nature.
Even more of the same
Redout 2's game modes selection is underwhelming. There are five modes available at launch, but two are marked as "coming soon." The other three options are Arcade, Career, and Multiplayer. Arcade is a simple exhibition mode in which you can select any track and race type you want. Meanwhile, Multiplayer is divided into two categories: unranked and ranked. Ranked mode is currently unavailable, and Unranked mode only offers default matchmaking with no server browser. It wouldn't matter anyway, because it takes so long to find a game that it's usually not worth trying.
That leaves Career, which is where you'll spend the majority of your Redout 2 time until multiplayer improves. Your career begins in the Trials division and progresses through the B League, A League, S League, and finally the SRRL Invitational. To advance, you must complete each tier's Promotion Event. This is accomplished by accumulating enough stars in other events, with stars awarded for placing first, second, and third, as well as an additional star for successfully completing the trophy goal. Trophy goals are secondary objectives that can include things like winning by a certain margin or only respawning a certain number of times.
On paper, Redout 2's Career appears to be in-depth and interesting, but in reality, it's far too repetitive. From the first to the last tier, you simply repeat the same events until you have enough stars to advance. The later addition of more race types, such as Last Man Standing and Arena, helps to mitigate this issue, but it is not a complete solution. The real issue is that this repetitive cycle lacks an interesting progression model to keep things interesting.
There are racing games that use similar repetitive gameplay loops. For example, most Forza events are simply races on different tracks, whereas Need For Speed's street circuits are difficult to distinguish from one another. But what keeps those games going is the car customization and the sheer number of cars to collect.
This is where Redout 2 falls short in my opinion. Instead of purchasing better ships and tuning them, you are given a default ship that can be outfitted with parts. These parts, however, can only be obtained by completing events. There is no in-game currency that can be earned to break up the monotony of completing the same events over and over. While there are a lot of parts to unlock, the majority of them are just rebalanced versions of other parts. Aside from minor stat differences, there is no discernible difference between the Harper and Tornado rudders.
It's not that the upgrades aren't significant; they're just dull. There is never a significant increase in performance, and it is frequently difficult to tell if you are moving faster than before installing an upgrade. Although, given Redout 2's low price point, many of its customization flaws can be overlooked. I just wish unlocking a new Propulsor or installing a new Stabilizer was more exciting.
Redout 2's visual customization is one area where it excels. Cosmetic upgrades are also restricted to arbitrary Career events, but they look fantastic. 34BigThings has capitalized on the potential of Redout's futuristic setting by providing us with some spectacular cosmetics to experiment with. There are numerous options for building the spaceship of your dreams.
This is not for everyone
Redout 2 is a niche game that is well-made. The idea of an arcade racing game that is more difficult to learn than most simulation racers is bizarre. There's a reason why the majority of other publishers haven't tried it. A product like this simply does not have a high demand.
Nonetheless, this does not imply that Redout 2 is a bad game. It provides a truly unique experience that very few other games in the genre can match. Many people will be irritated by Redout 2's unforgiving difficulty curve, but others will enjoy how brutal it is. Obviously, if you're not looking for a racing game that will put your patience to the test, this isn't the game for you. Those looking for a unique challenge should consider giving Redout 2 a shot.