One of the multiplayer modes in Project Cars 3 is called Rivals. It consists of month-long seasons. Each month, there is a single event which you can drive as often as you like to improve your standing. There are also rotating weekly events and daily events, each with a limited number of attempts. When each event closes, you win points based on how you placed on the leaderboard. Those points accumulate over the course of the season. At the end of the season, everybody’s ranked and wins experience points based on how well they did. And, of course, you’re earning experience points along the way just by driving the events. However you choose to play, you’re always making progress in Project Cars 3. If you drive, you advance.
But what if I let Project Cars 3 have a turn at the wheel?
Previously, I’ve chosen to play the campaign mode for the most part. But this month, I’m going to commit to the Rivals mode for a couple of reasons. The main reason is variety. The Rivals mode is like a sampler of all the different ways to play Project Cars 3. I’m not terribly interested in all the advanced hypercar and formula car races, but I’ve discovered that they’re not qualitatively different from the road races I prefer. Basically, driving skills are driving skills, regardless of whether you’re in a Lamborghini Sian FKP 37 (a set of DLC career races is based on whatever that is), some open-wheel formula car like the one Stallone drove in Driven (yes, that’s my main frame of reference for these cars), or a Honda Fit (hi, real life!). And because Project Cars 3 is built from the ground up to reward driving skills, it’s the first racing game where I can actually do well in cars that would normally run away from me. I know this from being shoved into these cars in Rivals mode.
The other reason I’m going to play Rivals mode is because it’s a great way to advance your accolades. Accolades are the achievement system in Project Cars 3, but unlike most achievement systems, they have gameplay implications. By playing the campaign mode, I’ve been diving deeply into a handful of accolades, tied to specific cars and tracks. Each accolade has five levels, and at each level you win a sum of experience points. So you’re constantly rewarded for running up the tallies with certain cars and certain tracks. And in career mode, you focus on a few cars and tracks at a time. But by driving the daily events in Rivals mode, I’ll jumpstart the lower levels on a ton of different accolades. For instance, there are 53 tracks in Project Cars 3. After dozens of hours playing, I have yet to try most of them. And in the career mode, I only own 11 out of about 200 cars. Furthermore, your earned experience points are applied to each car, leveling them up and applying a discount to upgrades for that car. So by sampling different cars in Rivals mode, I’ll be pre-leveling them before I even buy them.
The final reason to try Rivals mode is because I realized it’s not like the competitive mode in most racing games in that I don’t have to be really good to earn a meaningful reward. I just have to be consistent. Because you’re awarded points at the end of the season for each event, you’re going to rack up a score just for showing up. I realized this on Monday when I booted up Project Cars 3 and got a message about my reward for the January season. Which I’d forgotten all about. But I had sampled a few Rival events and my points were dutifully applied to the overall standing. Sure, I ended up in the Bronze category, but I still got a reward. And if I’d showed up for more events, I would have gotten a bigger reward.
So for February, I’ll be showing up to do all the events as a way to let Project Cars 3 show me what it has to offer. I’ve been in the driver’s seat so far. I’ve been choosing my cars and events up to now. But I’m going to see what happens if I let Rivals mode drive.