Formula Retro Racing – World Tour brings a new arcade racer to PC VR. Available now in early access, it’s a serviceable attempt that needs more time in the garage. Here’s our full early access impressions.
I’ve gained a renewed appreciation for motorsport these last two years, which quickly extended into video games. As a childhood racing fan, I still remember driving around Hockenheim with a cheap steering wheel in F1 Career Challenge, and VR lets me rediscover that thrill. By placing you directly inside the driving seat, VR feels like a brilliant extension of what racing games can offer, so after playing F1 22, GRID Legends and Gran Turismo 7, I was curious about what Formula Retro Racing – World Tour could offer.
For anyone who played Daytona USA and Virtua Racing, World Tour’s low polygon 90s-style presentation may feel nostalgic. Between selection screens giving you a countdown timer to choose an option or the overeager announcer commenting on your picks, it nails that retro vibe, though I’d argue the former feels unnecessary in modern games. Pick your car, choose a color, and get ready to race.
In its current build, World Tour offers four modes: Arcade, Grand Prix, Eliminator, and Free Practice. Grand Prix is your standard racing mode with no gimmicks and supports split-screen multiplayer. Arcade begins with a rolling start and tasks you with reaching checkpoints within a time limit, while Eliminator gradually knocks out drivers until only one remains. At full release, Repixel8 and CGA Studio claims World Tour will include online multiplayer and additional circuits.
Even in VR mode, World Tour currently only supports traditional gamepads and there’s no gimmicks here. All you can do is accelerate, brake, or drift with the right analog stick. Cutting corners doesn’t penalize you beyond taking minor damage, and AI vehicles instinctively dodge to avoid collisions. Hitting other cars can cause some dramatic accidents, practically obliterating opponents and causing them to restart in last place.
So far, I’m not feeling particularly taken with Formula Retro Racing. It’s a passable but shallow racer that never truly excites, which isn’t helped by uneven difficulty settings. As the ‘medium’ option, Advanced feels too easy with significant leniency towards damage and Expert depends on the track. Despite carrying out a near-perfect race with no collisions and maintaining top speed while holding the inside line, I could never achieve better than second at Indianapolis. Other circuits handled this better but I really hope this gets rebalanced.
Everything is playable in VR mode, but I was initially confused. World Tour places you inside a virtual arcade with a full 360 degree environment, sitting at a racing cabinet and navigating menus through a virtual screen. It’s a cool novelty that feels nicer than the static 2D menus racing games often use.
However, World Tour turns on its comfort mode by default, which isn’t a set of traditional anti-motion sickness options. Instead, ‘comfort mode’ plays the entire race through this in-game arcade unit, as opposed to putting you in the actual driver’s seat. It left me with some confusing first impressions about what level of VR support was actually included – it wasn’t until I turned off comfort mode that I figured out how to play from inside the actual the vehicle.
Once comfort mode is off, you’ll be placed into the vehicle. However, unlike other VR racers, you aren’t restricted to the driver’s seat. Much like flatscreen mode, you can drive with a third-person camera during races. That being said, I prefer keeping myself behind the steering wheel.
Overtaking while drifting was certainly enjoyable but annoyingly, you can’t turn off the HUD display, which shows your mini-map, speedometer, position and lap count. World Tour is hardly striving for realism but I wish I could change the icon positions or remove them.
I’ve come away with mixed feelings about Formula Retro Racing – World Tour. There’s decent VR support and the retro-themed presentation holds a nostalgic charm, but it’s held back by uneven difficulty settings and shallow gameplay. For anyone after a new PC VR racing game, you could do worse, but I’d consider holding off until the full release.