The futuristic, anti-gravity sub-genre of racing games is going through a resurgence right now. Just two years ago, the only two names in the conversation were F-Zero and WipEout, and both series sadly faded away into obscurity. The latter is obviously making its overdue return in June, but beyond that, this particular breed of racer is popping up everywhere: Fast RMX for the Switch, Redout for PC, Radial G for VR systems, and R8 Games' Formula Fusion. This was playable at EGX Rezzed, so we hopped aboard to take the game for a test drive.
The developer has ex-Studio Liverpool staff in its ranks, so it's no wonder that Formula Fusion feels a lot like WipEout. Despite the clear comparison, R8 Games was quick to differentiate its racer. It seems to have put a lot of effort into establishing the larger context of the racing, with Formula Fusion the name of the in-universe, Formula 1-esque sport. In addition to a single player campaign, you will be able to compete online (alone or with a team) in leagues and tournaments. The team even has aspirations to take the game in the direction of eSports in the future.
There's not only a difference in tone. One of the key differences in gameplay is the Garage, where you're able to customise your craft. There are unlockable skins, but you're also able to tinker with your ship's parts via a card-based system. You can also adorn vehicles with sponsors, which we understand will give buffs to certain stats, and you can even adjust your loadout of offensive and defensive pick-ups. We didn't get to muck around with this too much, but it's a neat idea that will add some depth for the more serious competitors.
Of course, you can also ignore this aspect and just get stuck into the racing itself. This is where the WipEout comparisons come into play: the controls and handling are very reminiscent, though a fair bit floatier. The tracks seem wider, though, which should mitigate the softer steering. It feels great to play generally and is incredibly fast-paced. The motion blur is quite heavy handed, but not detrimentally so; however, it is a noticeable difference when compared to WipEout's spotless image quality. Pick-ups seem to work on the basis of building up charge before you can use them, which we felt was a little restrictive in a game as speedy as this.
Formula Fusion will be making its way to consoles after its initial launch on PC a little later in the year. The team told us that it's targeting a console release before the end of 2017, which feels attainable to us. Our hands on was all too brief, but the racing was very solid, so hopefully it won't slip into the New Year. It'll be interesting to see how well it performs on PS4; with the grand-daddy of the genre beating Formula Fusion to the punch, can it do enough to separate itself? Early signs are looking good, but we'll need to spend a bit longer with it to see if it can climb atop the podium.
Will WipEout steal Formula Fusion's thunder? Are you excited to play an all-new sci-fi racer? Fly at breakneck speed into the comments section below.