What’s coming to Le Mans Ultimate? A guide to Early Access and an Intended Development Pathway

As we embark on the journey of Early Access with Le Mans Ultimate, we wanted to set expectations and showcase our intentions for the development of this title. We’re excited to see this project grow with your feedback!

 

Why did you choose Early Access?

Determining the right delivery method for this game has been on our minds for quite some time and has taken a great deal of consideration. We’re proud of the studio’s achievements. Extracting the magic of the physics and feeling from pMotor2.5 (as seen in rFactor 2) and bringing it into a new platform which you will see expand over time has been a huge effort from a small team of people. This has taken place whilst maintaining and extending support for rFactor 2. From new features such as competitive Online features through RaceControl to exciting licenced content and more.

Internally we’ve come to the conclusion that we would like community support and feedback as we build out this new simulation title because it is how we’ve operated for many years. We’re not developing a Quick Race title; we’re building an endurance simulation which can be accessed by both hardcore users (like us!) as well as time-pressed, first-time users. Capturing the detail of such an experience requires attention to detail and we’re of the opinion that we’re better off collaborating with a passionate fan-base. After all, sportscar racing is about more than just one driver – it’s an entire team made up of different individuals with different ideas – all coming together to drive forward success.

We believe there’s a lot of value in the game from day one of Early Access. And rather than keeping it locked away in the Studio 397 projects vault, we’d like to get into the hands of the community, demonstrate how things have been built to the trademark quality of Studio 397, and gain your valuable thoughts and opinions.

 

What does Early Access mean for Le Mans Ultimate?

Early Access will allow players the opportunity to experience a full suite of all twelve 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship cars on seven legendary circuits in a raceable state from the first day of release.

There’s already great content, online multiplayer races and more to explore. We expect this game to be built upon over a prolonged period of time – both in and outside of Early Access and the rich tapestry of sportscar racing offers breathtaking potential for content this game could offer in future.

As the development of the game continues, new features and some regular content will come to the title free of charge, with the possibility of future paid DLC.

 

What can I do from Day 1 of Early Access?

Right away you’ll be able to jump into Race Weekend or Online while driving cars from the incredible Hypercar class, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans winning Ferrari 499P, the championship winning Toyota GR010 amongst many others.

Race Weekend format will allow you to configure your event with which classes you want to race against, the length of each session, weather, time of day, and any time-scaled tyre wear/fuel when you battle against the AI drivers. Go crazy – this is your sandbox for a WEC Race Weekend.

Online will allow you to go wheel-to-wheel against other competitive drivers in our system powered by RaceControl. Featuring Driver and Safety Ranks, the system pairs you against similar level drivers as it learns your capability and unlocks new, higher level, events when your complete more races without incidents. There are regular “daily” races available in Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced categories whilst “Weekly” and “Special” events also take place and offer greater Driver and Safety Rank bonuses should you finish well.

How do you plan to use Early Access to benefit development?

The community team, designers and developers will closely be monitoring feedback on social media, Discord and our new forums that are due to go live shortly. We are also considering “feedback events” for specific periods surrounding specific features or improvements. Additionally, as we share more roadmap information, we know you will be giving us great information on what they would most like to see so that we can investigate and prioritise those.

 

So how long will Early Access take?

It’s just too early to say! We’re not watching the clock, we’re trying to build something special.

 

What improvements are you looking to make?

As we embark on this adventure together, we’re boldly unveiling a pathway packed with the kind of experiences and features we as sim racing fans believe will elevate your enjoyment of a product we have poured our energy into.

In the immediate phase following release, we’re laser-focused on enhancing your experience through swift fixes. If you find a bug, we’re intent on squashing it! We are also prepared to address any new and interesting issues you might identify through your invaluable bug reports. Please also look at our

Known Issues (when published) to familiarise yourself prior to submitting a report. This is likely to take the majority of our time for the first 3 months.

Looking ahead, our short and medium-term goals aim to bring you greater stability, fixes and refined functionality. We’re acutely aware of the need to introduce features like replays, allowing you to review your sessions and settle any on-track disputes, along with the convenience of saving mid- session progress to continue later. For our VR enthusiasts, rest assured, we’re diligently planning how we integrate this immersive feature into the game in a cleaner format fitting of our approach to Le Mans Ultimate.

We’re also gearing up to introduce the eagerly anticipated Co-op mode, where you and your friends can compete as teammates against other AI driven teams. Imagine passing the virtual baton to your buddy as you navigate through an intense multi-stint race. It’s an exhilarating experience and offers a nice mid-ground between online play against others and the offline comfort of Race Weekend. It’s already in an advanced state but didn’t quite make the required standard for launch.

We know that many users have been asking for a single-player Championship mode and development on this is underway. We’re not yet able to give a definitive deadline for this Championship piece, though we anticipate it being available to players late in the year.

Prepare to take your online racing to the next level with our plans to build on the success of RaceControl. Among other things we have planned, Hosted Servers will also be making their way to Le Mans Ultimate. This will allow you to rent a server hosted by RaceControl’s cloud services, offering hassle-free customisation options for private or public use, all designed to make your life easier. It will also allow us to deliver some very cool features and functionality that will blur the lines between offline and online experiences in a way that will enhance our vision of endurance racing. The costs associated with this infrastructure are significant but the goal is to provide a more robust, scalable and accessible platform in an area we want to amplify in Le Mans Ultimate. We believe online gameplay is something that will bring you back to this title again and again and therefore we want to bring you tools like this, to allow and improve league racing experiences as soon as possible. Connected to this online investment is our reworking of online netcode and team management tools.

The aim being to deliver a seamless multiplayer experience that sets Le Mans Ultimate apart. This is a major project, with undefined timescales, and will continue through the year, appearing at times in a Beta branch to gather widespread opinion from those interested in trying and feeding back on thenew experience before it is promoted to the main game. Successful testing of this will enable us to work on multi-driver car-sharing events, spectator tools, team management and associated features.We’re acutely aware this is a must-have for an endurance sim racing game. In taking the best parts of our technology forwards, we had to go full Mad Max, flip some tables and start over in some areas.

We hope you appreciate and understand the journey we’ve embarked on. It’s to the long-term benefit of a platform we hope will provide many years of incredible endurance racing.

Custom Liveries is something we know you want and we believe it’d make a big change in experience. We have a bunch of ideas on how we can implement a great system but nothing is yet in place and we can’t commit to a delivery date. When we know more, we’ll let you know.

There are some areas of work for rulesets as well. Safety car(s), full-course yellows and slow zones are critical parts of endurance racing. Driver time limits for Race Weekend and Online formats is also planned to be investigated. Additionally, we also know that qualifying per class, hyperpole and race starts by class are other features that will help the game become more authentic. Nothing is off the table here, it’s important that we work on these elements but again we’re wary of over promising on deadlines, because we sometimes forget we’re a small, passionate development team. Building the platform into something special will, inevitably, take time. We will adjust the roadmap against our velocity and keep you updated along the way. After all, we hope you will be a part of this, providing useful feedback to help us fine-tune.

As for content, the possibilities are immense, with a rich tapestry of Le Mans history and sportscars racing await exploration. From new circuits to cutting-edge Hypercars and the evolution of GT racing – we’re committed to delivering content that excites and captivates. We think there is already a lot of content in the initial release of Le Mans Ultimate and we didn’t want to stagger this over time and artificially stretch things out. As new content becomes available some standard DLC will incorporated into the base game for free to existing users, with the price of the base game increasing over time for new players who join the Le Mans Ultimate journey at a later date.

We’re incredibly excited to unveil everything Studio 397 can offer on Day 1 of this game launch. It’s the beginning of something exciting for all of us and the next phase of our labour of love. We cannot wait to see where this takes us!

Latest News

12 March 2024

Known Issues

The following issues have been flagged by the Studio 397 team and will be issued publicly alongside the game release. These are already being worked upon and will be resolved as soon as possible following release and will be communicated across the Le Mans Ultimate social media channels, Discord and forum.

18 April 2024

Patch 3 Hotfix 1 – 18th April 2024 – Public Notes​

Following the third substantial Update announced earlier this week, we have made a few amendments in our latest Hotfix.

16 April 2024

Patch 3 – 16th April 2024 – Public Notes​

The third patch comes in hot ahead of the second round of the FIA WEC this weekend. Check out the latest updates.

15 April 2024

Le Mans Ultimate embarks on European tour

Le Mans Ultimate will be visiting hearts of the fan zones around Europe over the next three months – bringing the thrill of sim racing to motorsport fans in Italy, Belgium and France.

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