Freedom of FUEL: The Q&A

From deep snow to open wilderness, Codemasters' latest racing game, FUEL, is a multi-terrain racing experience that covers over 5,000 square miles of the world’s harshest environments. Featuring on and off-road, two and four-wheeled vehicles, FUEL will pit players against the elements as they adapt their driving skills to cope with the likes of blizzards, sandstorms and tornadoes. We recently hooked up with Codemasters Producer Phil Wright to find out how FUEL plans to satisfy racing fans and thrill seekers alike.

PSU: What influenced you to create FUEL in an open-world, free-roaming arena rather than stick to the traditional menu-driven gameplay?

Phil Wright: Well, first I should say that if players prefer to negotiate their way through menus they are free to do so in FUEL: we’ve made sure that the game offers as much choice as possible, so for players who are just out to race, they have the option from within the menu system. But they’ll be missing out! FUEL offers a beautiful, seamless space, with huge diversity in terms of environment and terrain, filled with hundreds of reasons to explore: events, vehicles, liveries, and so on. There’s a lot to be said for the simple pleasure of cruising around the world for its own sake – checking out what’s over the next hill, catching your breath at a beautiful sunset, speeding down the side of a mountain – before diving into the next race challenge. It would be a shame to deprive players of that opportunity.

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PSU: How big is the game world and what locations and terrains can we expect to drive across?

Wright: The game world is huge – over 5,000 square miles with enormous diversity in terrain and locations. The map is generated from a selection of satellite data of the United States brought together to form a diverse landscape of snow-covered mountains, lush forests, deep ravines, dusty plains, arid salt flats and desolate coastline. This is all linked together by a vast network of roads, from highways to dirt tracks, and littered with the abandoned shells of vehicles and buildings that have been left to the mercy of the elements. All of this combines to offer an ever-changing, challenging and unique racing experience.

PSU: How do we jump into races and challenges?

Wright: Races and challenges can be accessed by driving to their start points in the map, or alternatively drop into the menu and select any race or challenge for the zone you are currently in. If you fancy racing in another zone that you’ve unlocked, you can either take the long drive in Free Ride or select the zone’s camp from the map screen and teleport straight there. The choice is yours.

PSU: Aside from point to point races, what other challenges will we face?

Wright: We have a wide range of race events – large scale raid races, checkpoint races, events where you have to avoid being the last vehicle through a checkpoint or on a lap, chase events where you must catch up with a helicopter – there’s a huge amount of variety.

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PSU: We understand that there will also be collectibles to hunt down?

Wright: Throughout the world you’ll be able to uncover extra challenges, vehicles, vista points and liveries to customize your vehicles. There are hundreds of these rewards dotted throughout the world to really encourage exploration.

PSU: With so many vehicles on offer, how have you managed to ensure that each one feels different to drive than the next?

Wright: FUEL features more than 70 vehicles split across six classes – bikes, cars, trucks, buggies, quads and specials – so there’s something for every sort of terrain. Within these classes, some vehicles are better suited for roads, some for off road, and others perform well across all terrain. Then we factor in grip, acceleration and top speed… The development team has done a great job of giving the vehicles distinct handling properties which feel right for each class, then refining those handling properties so that no two vehicles feel as if they drive the same.
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A gamer since the days of the ZX Spectrum, Steven Williamson now works as General Manager for PSU. He's supposed to be managing, but if you're reading this, it means he's dipped into editorial again.
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