Updated: Feb 23
Back in December of 2014, Italian game developer KUNOS-Simulazioni released the sim racing title Assetto Corsa on PC and as of the time of writing (2021) it remains one of the most popular sims out there. So why is Assetto Corsa still relevant in 2021 after almost seven years, when so many other titles have been and gone?
Assetto Corsa was always designed to provide a realistic racing experience and with the 'Ultimate Edition' including well over 170 fully modeled cars and around 45 track layouts (many of which are laser scanned), there is no lack of high-quality original content.
One of the main reasons Assetto Corsa has stood the test of time though is its support for a wide range of customisation and modding. Think of any car or track that exist in the world, and chances are someone has brought it into the game for free, which means there is almost no limit to what is possible.
Where to find Assetto Corsa mods?
Racedepartment.com is usually the best place to look for mods, but you can also find them on lots of other sites. If there is a car that you have not found a mod for, hop into one of the many forums or Facebook pages and it does not take long to find someone who could get to work on adding it into the game. This means you end up with some very wild creations, anything from the Tesla Cybertruck to lego cars or even lawnmowers!
Of course, some of these mods are not of the same quality as the base content from a visual and physics standpoint. However, specialised modding studios such as Race Sim Studio(RSS), VRC and many others have made both free and paid content that rivals and sometimes even exceeds the quality of the original game.
Beyond cars and tracks
This 'moddability' does not just include cars and tracks, but also various sound mods, user interfaces, on-screen apps and visual enhancements.
A big request from the community was the addition of weather and night lighting to add a new level of immersion for endurance racing. Sadly, KUNOS was not able to bring this feature to Assetto Corsa by default but they did implement it into their newer GT car-oriented sim - Assetto Corsa Competizione.
However, this new game has not been as moddable as the original and remains focused on GT cars and endurance racing. Instead, members of the community have been able to create mods that add weather, night driving and enhanced shaders to the original Assetto Corsa to further improve the immersion of the sim to bring it closer to that of Assetto Corsa Competizione but with much more content available.
Getting rid of the modding hassle
Using Assetto Corsa with the Content Manager UI makes modding a simple drag and drop process and couple that with Custom Shaders Patch (CSP) and the Sol mod it provides a refreshed graphics overhaul that brings the original game back to life. These add-ons include night lighting, weather, improved AI, particle effects (e.g. sparks) and many more improvements to keep it in line with some of the newer titles. The game was also brought to consoles in 2016 but sadly there is no ability to mod the console version.
The fact that Assetto Corsa remains so dynamic to change means it can stay relevant and therefore people want to keep playing it as it keeps on improving. Despite its age, it is still one of the most actively used racing games on Steam. This also means there are still plenty of people in the online servers so taking your car out on the virtual Nordschleife can feel just as chaotic as the real thing.
The best of both worlds?
When we compare Assetto Corsa to other racing titles like iRacing, rFactor 2, Automoblista or Project Cars, Assetto Corsa clearly offers a good balance of them all; the realism of rFactor, the graphics of Project Cars and a level of customisation which means it is one of the best all-rounders on offer. It is also the only one of these that offers a realistic drifting experience with many players taking to the online drift servers to burn some rubber.
You can often find the 'Ultimate Edition' with all the DLC’s on sale on Steam for under £20, sometimes going as low as £6, or even £3 for the base game. At this price, it is an absolute steal when you consider the amount of additional free content available and the price of some of the other titles.
Yes, one-day Assetto Corsa will eventually become outdated but right now, with the community constantly creating and sharing so much new content, it is safe to say Assetto Corsa is still worth playing and will be for many years to come. If we do someday see an Assetto Corsa 2, we hope it remains as customisable as the original.