A couple of months ago I reminisced about Driveclub, a somewhat overlooked racing game for the PlayStation 4 known for its phenomenal weather effects. Weather effects that I reckon still haven’t been surpassed by any competing racer, even on newer, much more powerful hardware. That includes Forza Horizon 5 and Gran Turismo 7.
What I didn’t know is that the ever-devoted modding community for Assetto Corsa, a simulator that originally released back in 2014 on PC, has improved the game such that it might actually surpass Driveclub’s rendering of rain in a few key areas — and absolutely blow Forza’s and GT’s out of the water, no pun intended. This is how rain should look in modern racing games, and yet nothing really comes close.
What you’re watching is the latest version of the Shutoko Revival Project — a fan-developed Assetto Corsa mod paying homage to the golden era of Japanese street racing, featuring a replica of Tokyo’s iconic Metropolitan Expressway. It’s a setting that’s been mostly ignored in the racing genre since the Tokyo Xtreme Racer franchise of the early-to-mid aughts, and I’ve never understood why. Plenty of people seem to want a game like this, and yet it’s taken volunteers to make it real.
That’s part of why the video above is so neat, but the other is the rain. And credit for that contribution goes to a developer named Ilja Jusupov, a.k.a. x4fab, who’s spent years developing custom shader patches for Assetto Corsa according to their Patreon.
Jusupov’s work is something to behold. The disparate drops collect and move en masse across the windshield; snaking, melding together and swaying left and right, opposite the car’s direction of travel. The wipers work together to move all the liquid over and down, just like on a real car, leaving dry streaks behind as they oscillate. I know this all seems unremarkable in text, but the second you see it in action, you realize this level of detail simply isn’t observed in other racing games. Games developed by actual companies. Take the technical darling that is GT7, for example:
Pretty pathetic, right? In fairness, there are a few likely reasons for this. Assetto Corsa is a PC game of course — at its core an old PC game at that — where graphical quality isn’t capped for specific hardware. Being an eight-year-old title, Assetto Corsa isn’t pushing PCs particularly hard these days, which allows devs some headroom to realize the beautiful effects we’re seeing.
The time-of-day also appears to be static in the Shutoko clip, which would lessen load on the hardware. GT7’s rain doesn’t look half as good, but GT7’s lighting, sky and cloud cover is changeable, as was Driveclub’s. Rest assured though — there are Assetto Corsa modders tending to that problem as well, like Peter Boese, responsible for the Sol dynamic atmosphere system.
The results here aren’t perfect; this is all the work of independent developers pinched for time and resources, obviously. In the video you’ll notice that the moment the player’s car goes underneath an overpass, water stops collecting on the glass and the wipers pause in place. It’s not an enclosed tunnel, so there should still be some indirect spray flying about. But again, you have to remember that this is a game that didn’t launch with any weather effects to speak of in 2014. Even if Assetto Corsa had, they never would’ve looked this good.
Modders are literally stitching in new chunks of game that Kunos Simulazioni, Assetto Corsa’s original developer, never dreamed of. And they’re still managing to put new triple-A racers to shame.