GTA Online recently shook the ant-farm with the Cunning Stunts update. Players are tasked with braving dangerous Stunt Races suspended thousands of feet in the air, with tracks winding about the skyscrapers of Los Santos’ downtown, as well as some other notable landmarks.
Cunning Stunts also added a motherload of vehicles to the game so players can enjoy the new races in new rides. Since the original 16 races and 13 vehicles couldn’t possibly be enough, just yesterday Rockstar added another 6 races and 3 rides to the game, also in the theme of Cunning Stunts.
Obviously, the main attraction in this DLC is the whole Stunt Racing angle. All kinds of insane traps and obstacles, like rings of fire, spinning bars and massive jumps that can only be braved with the help of speed-boosters.
Races have always been an integral part of Grand Theft Auto, especially in Online. Back when the multiplayer component launched, Races were among the most lucrative activities. Since the release of Heists, they have dropped down on the ladder of popularity. Even so, there has always been a strong core fan-base of racers keeping the tradition alive.
Stunt Races have heralded the return to glory for the motorsports. However, they have also made some existing issues much more pointed and obvious, proving that Rockstar should take another look at the base mechanics of racing in GTA Online.
One of said issues is the exaggeration of slipstream. Slipstream is Rockstar’s attempt at introducing realistic air-resistance physics. Basically, if you move behind another racer at high speeds, they will take the brunt of the air-resistance, meaning you’ll go faster while you’re behind them. The feature itself activates upon the sound-cue, and two white lines “connecting” the two rides.
Now, in theory, this is a pretty neat feature, adding some measure of tactics to racing, giving players some help in catching up on those ahead of them. However, in practise, slipstream is way over the top. The speed boost cars in slipstream get is insanely high, causing you to overshoot turns, overtake the car in front too quickly. In Stunt Races, slipstream causes players to overshoot jumps by so much that they fall off the map.
The issue with slipstream has been oft brought up by players for a while now, however it wasn’t ever as pressing an issue as now. Most hosts turn it off for this particular reason – which luckily is an option.
Catch-up is another system benefiting players who aren’t in the lead. Basically, this feature slaps a speed-penalty on whoever is in first place. The bigger the lead they get on second, the worse their debuff gets. Both speed and acceleration are decreased, however, once again the rate at which this happens is way out of proportion.
The fastest cars in GTA Online slow down to a relative crawl whenever they’re in first place. While slipstream makes getting into first place trivial, catch-up makes it impossible to keep that spot for any long stretch of time. While it may seem like a decent feature to bridge the gap between skilled players with fast cars and casual players with regular cars, in practise it just ruins the whole dynamic of fighting for first place.
While this isn’t particularly more debilitating in stunt races, in some cases when a player gets a massive lead and thus a massive speed penalty, they can’t make the longer jumps, which is understandably an issue.
Finally, one of the most requested feature since the release of Cunning Stunts is the inclusion of non-contact Stunt Races. In regular races, non-contact basically makes every other player a “ghost”, as in you can’t crash with them, rather you go through them. This may be unrealistic, but it is a good way to get a race without some jerks crashing into you on purpose.
While the trailer for Cunning Stunts was heavy on the crashes, meaning they are kinda features in their own right, in some cases this gives trolls the perfect mechanic to make the race a mess. Giving the players the option to take part in non-contact races wouldn’t detract from the fun factor at all.
What are your opinions on Stunt Racing in GTA Online?