I’ve driven some weird vehicles in my day. Once you get into the Badlands in Red Faction: Guerilla, you’ll find some real doozies. The Batmobile has its share of idiosyncrasies. Some of the trucks in Spintires, Mudrunner, and Snowrunner are clearly from another world. I routinely drive a rabbit and a manta ray in Guild Wars 2. But then today’s rivals event in Project Cars 3 happened.
At first glance, today’s rivals event is bog standard. A single lap on Silverstone, an unremarkable circuit in the UK. Today’s car is some generic formula racer. I couldn’t care less about all this. Let’s get this over with. I probably won’t even have anything to write about.
Sometimes when I’m watching a replay in Project Cars 3, rewinding and fast forwarding a lot, the sound cuts out. No big deal. It happens. It always comes back. It seems to have happened in today’s rivals event. There’s no sound as I race up to the finish line and start my lap time. No, wait, there is sound, but it’s faint. It’s not the roar or shriek you’d expect from a formula racer. It’s a quiet whine. A polite whine. The apologetic whine of an unassuming electric motor, little more than tinnitus. It’s the same sound you hear in a golf cart. Why does my formula racer sound like a golf cart?
And why am I still in first gear? I run a full lap on Silverstone, which includes its share of straightaways to open the engine up. But I never leave first gear. In fact, as near as I can tell, this weirdly noiseless car doesn’t even have a second gear. It’s like playing Wipeout. What is going on? What even is this “Formula E Season 6 Gen2” car?
Today’s formula racer is apparently some sort of electric car — ah, Formula E, I get it! — which I guess means it doesn’t use a normal transmission and therefore doesn’t use conventional gearing because electricity and combustion have different rules? It’s all very confusing and, I have to admit, a little fascinating. To Google, since Project Cars 3 doesn’t do information.
Sure enough, Formula E is an event that’s been going on since 2014, designed to push and implement clean energy tech by focusing solely on electric cars. The 2018 season added races in which the drivers could choose between the optimal racing line or an area to give their engines extra power. Formula racing now has boost zones! Pick-ups can’t be far behind. EMP bursts in 2022?
Once again, rivals mode showed me something I might not otherwise have seen. Along with the Formula X, this is the most expensive car in the game, with a sticker price of $649,700. I don’t expect I’ll be buying one anytime soon. Any events that require these cars are locked deep in the career mode, so I also don’t expect I’ll be needing one anytime soon. But rivals mode has also taught me something I didn’t know, and now I have a Formula E documentary called And Now We Go Green queued up on Hulu. Hopefully it will explain why I can only drive in first gear.
When I was in high school, a friend of the family named Lane used to tell us crazy stories about his life. Lane was quite the character, so I don’t doubt that he had a crazy life, but I suspect some of his stories were fiction. For instance, one of the stories was about getting drunk with Linda Ronstadt and going home with her in her new Porsche. He claimed she was so drunk she drove in first gear the whole time and burned out the engine. I don’t know if I believe him — he also said he inspired Joni Mitchell to write Both Sides Now — but I do know that if Linda Ronstadt had a Formula E Season 6 Gen2, she wouldn’t have had to replace the engine in that Porsche.