The career progression in most racing games is linear. You start out with pokey road cars and gradually unlock events for increasingly powerful cars. One day, you’ll get to hypercars and supercars and formula racers and various other Batmobile iterations. But Project Cars 3 wants you to freely sample its wares. So its career progression is a tree instead of a power curve. A veritable jungle gym.
You start out driving class E road cars. Then you unlock events for class D road cars. It’s all very safe and familiar and everyday. You might even be driving something you drive in real life. But a funny thing happens on the way to class C road events. Part way through class D, while you’ve still got about 20 career objectives to go to unlock class C, you’ll unlock the bottom rung of GT class events. So while you’re still leveling up in your Honda Civic and Toyota Supra, now you’ve got events available for GT cars.
GT cars in Project Cars 3 are the same cars you’ve been driving all along, but overhauled for racing. Every road car in Project Cars 3 has a GT iteration of itself, sold separately. But when you’re buying upgraded parts for your car, one of the upgrade options is “race conversion.” This will permanently move your car into the GT class, which has a whole separate set of upgrades and parts available. It resets your car in a higher class. It’s like prestige mode. It also presents a unique dilemma, which I’ll get to in a moment.
So rather than work your way up to the top of the road class and then over to the bottom of the GT class, Project Cars staggers unlocks between road and GT events. I just unlocked class B road events. These require high-end cars like Porcsches, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis. Well, lower-end Porsches, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis, but still. After another 85 objectives, in any class, I’ll unlock road A, where everything looks indistinguishable to me. Except for the Dodge Viper. Hey, what’s a big dumb handsome car like you doing in a place like this? But it’s only another 40 career objectives until I’ll unlock GT B. Right now, to progress in Project Cars 3, I can play events in road classes E, D, C, and B, or in GT class C.
(I can also play invitational events and challenge events. Invitationals have prerequisites like “win 30 events using cars from Italy” or “win 15 events using cars from France”. They also require a specific car. For instance, once I win 30 events in Italian cars — I don’t even own an Italian car, so this won’t be happening anytime soon — I’ll unlock a race in a ’69 Camaro on a track in upstate New York called Watkins Glen. Which has three objectives, which will of course apply to unlocking other events. I have to earn invitations to the invitationals. I can also play challenge events when I win the main event for each class. The price of admission for challenges is a class trophy.)
This event variety drives the collection aspect of Project Cars 3. Most caRPGs throw so many cars at you that your garage is full of meaningless trash you’ll never use and probably didn’t even want in the first place. Loot churn. But every car in my Project Cars 3 garage is a car I bought, almost always because I needed it for a specific event I wanted to play (although I have been known to buy cars just because they’re on sale; the Daily Deal is sometimes too good to pass up). Each of these is a car I specifically looked at and said, “I want that!” Slightly Mad Studios got the car collection aspect just right in their Need for Speed Shift games, and they’re still getting it just right in Project Cars 3.
But one issue with car collections is that as you climb the power curve, as you finish up the road E events, what good is that Honda Civic? As with any good caRPG, you can upgrade it. Give it better parts, boost its performance rating into higher classes, and keep using it well into road D and C and even higher. But at a certain point, the cars that begin in those classes are better than the upgraded Honda Civic. So do I just let my Honda Civic sit in the garage and gather dust? Is it vendor trash to be sold back for half what I paid?
Not in Project Cars 3. Because just as the first car I bought was getting obsoleted in the road class events, the GT class events unlocked. To play the new events, I could either buy a GT car, or I could apply the race conversion to my trusty old Honda Civic. I could give it a new lease on life, racing it in a whole new category, with a whole new set of upgrades. It’s the age-old car-buying dilemma: new or used? I opted for used. Actually, I’ve got the money for both, so I also bought a new Renault, Chick 10. Now I can start working on the invitational for French cars. I also finally bought an Italian car. Two, in fact. Chicks 16 and 17. But I’m mainly using my converted Honda in the GT C events. Here’s the before:
And the after:
Okay, sure, she still looks the same. And she’s still Chick 1. In fact, the custom license plate gets converted to the driver name put in the window. Either there are minor sticker placement issues or Project Cars 3 somehow knows what state I’m from:
I guess you can take the boy out of Arkansas, etc., etc. But since I have a lot of book learnin’, I figured out how to trick Project Cars 3:
Up next: forget it, Jake
Previously: hey, did you happen to see the most hideous car in the world?