The WEC is the highest level of endurance racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans is its premier event. It’s surprising, then, that we haven’t seen an official WEC game in a long time. That’s set to change this year with the release of Le Mans Ultimate – the first WEC game in over 20 years.
From the cars and tracks to the release date and platforms, here’s everything we know so far about Le Mans Ultimate.
Latest news – First look at Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar
As Le Mans Ultimate’s development continues, Studio 397 has shared work-in-progress screenshots of the Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar.
Although Le Mans Ultimate runs on the same engine as rFactor 2, Studio 397 promises the cars will sport greater levels of fidelity, with dirt gradually building on the body and windows.
“We are doing things that haven’t been seen on other sims concerning cars,” said Studio 397’s Mirza Rustemovic. “One thing is that we recognise these cars – none of them are painted as they are carbon fibre and Kevlar with wraps/livery on top. We are adding that weave under the paint so it has the same texture, look and feel.”
Studio 397 hasn’t revealed any official gameplay yet. However, off-screen Le Mans Ultimate footage has emerged online when the game was recently shown off at Circuit de la Sarthe.
Filmed off-screen and shared on Twitter, the brief nine-second clip gives us a first look at night racing in Le Mans Ultimate from the in-car view. From the footage, the visuals and driving physics are based on rFactor 2 with a redesigned HUD.
Le Mans Ultimate – Official WEC game announced
Motorsport Games first announced it was working on a new Le Mans game back in 2021. Since then, news on the official WEC game went quiet – until now.
In June 2023, Motorsport Games announced Le Mans Ultimate as the official 2023 WEC game. As such, Le Mans Ultimate will include all drivers, teams and tracks from the 2023 World Endurance Championship.
Development is being handled by Studio 397, the developer of rFactor 2. The new Le Mans game will also feature “cutting-edge physics” from rFactor 2 for an authentic driving experience.
Cars and drivers
2021 saw the introduction of the new top Hypercar class in the WEC. For the first time in a racing game, you’ll be tearing up the track in Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) and Le Mans Daytona h class cars from Toyota, Ferrari, Porsche, Cadillac, Peugeot, Glickenhaus and Vanwall.
Joining these are 2023 WEC season GTE cars from brands such as Aston Martin, Corvette, Ferrari and Porsche as well as LMP2 class cars.
Former champions such as Michael Christensen, Brendon Hartley, Sebastian Buemi and Andre Lotterer will make up the driver lineup.
What’s unique about WEC races is that each event has several classes. With Hypercars, LMP2 and LMGTE cars all on the same circuit, the challenge of navigating slower competitors is huge.
“We are working with the major OEM’s who have provided us with an exhaustive level of data to replicate the cars, not just that, we have direct feedback from engineers and teams to nail the feeling of the cars, Dom Duhan, Head of Studio 397, said in a developer blog.
As well as cars and drivers, Le Mans Ultimate will include all tracks from the 2023 season. This means there will be seven circuits, all of which are familiar to racing gamers.
Here is the full Le Mans Ultimate track list:
- Sebring (USA)
- Portimao (Portugal)
- Spa (Belgium)
- Le Mans (France)
- Monza (Italy)
- Fuji (Japan)
- Sakhir (Bahrain)
These seven events take place across three continents. Each one is at least 1000 km or six hours long, with the 24 Hours of Le Mans being the most prestigious.
Le Mans is arguably bigger than the series itself and celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. This is the reason why Motorsport Games are aiming to replicate WEC and Le Mans in their own game in 2023.
Some tracks will carry over from rFactor 2 and updated for Le Mans Ultimate, while Portimao and Fuji are being built from scratch with laser scanning technology.
Online multiplayer will be powered by Motorsport Games’ new RaceControl online platform for an “interactive multiplayer experience.” This will provide both competitive and casual races and the ability to host private sessions.
Thanks to a co-op asynchronous race mode, players can compete in online endurance races at scheduled times that suit each player in different time zones.
Since 2020, rFactor 2 has hosted the Virtual Le Mans esports series.
This event was massive by anybody’s standards with unheard viewing figures for an esports meeting. After this year’s disastrous event was branded as a “clown show” by Max Verstappen, Le Mans Ultimate will serve as Le Mans Virtual Series platform in the future.
Platforms – will Le Mans Ultimate come to consoles?
Le Mans Ultimate will initially be PC-only. This isn’t surprising as rFactor 2 is also a PC-only racing simulation.
However, Motorsport Games isn’t ruling out a future Le Mans Ultimate console release. The publisher is currently evaluating the right time to release Le Mans Ultimate on consoles, adding that the “performance of current generation machines makes this a real possibility.”
We’re not expecting Le Mans Ultimate to come to consoles until 2024 at the earliest, however.
Le Mans Ultimate’s PC sales may decide its fate on consoles: Our focus is the PC at this stage, we know that PC’s have been traditionally the only platform that can run our physics engine to a great degree, however, the latest generation consoles can also now do it,” Dom Duhan, Head of Studio 397, said in a developer blog.
“We have had many comments about delivering on console and it could be an option at some stage depending on how well the game does.
Le Mans Ultimate is targeting a December 2023 release window, with a specific date to be confirmed.
Instead of annual releases, Studio 397 plans to “continually evolve” Le Mans Ultimate, with content updates planned for the second half of 2024.
Motorsport Games says it wants the official WEC game to have a “lifespan longer than a yearly released game.”
What else is Motorsport Games working on?
Motorsport Games is best known for publishing NASCAR Heat 5 and developing NASCAR 21: Ignition. In 2021, Motorsport Games also acquired Studio 397 and the rFactor 2 racing simulation platform.
Le Mans Ultimate isn’t the only official motorsport game the company is working on, however.
Motorsport Games is also working on official video game adaptations for IndyCar and the British Touring Car Championship. Both were initially slated for 2023 but are delayed until 2024.