It’s the weekend after the 4th of July, which means it’s time to start gearing up for another annual edition of virtual stock cars. The folks at 704Games have announced NASCAR Heat 4, which is scheduled for a release sometime in September. Along with the news that veteran driver Kevin Harvick is gracing the game’s cover, the North Carolina-based publisher has revealed a hefty list of new features and pre-order bonuses.
Many NASCAR gamers like myself felt that last year’s version felt very rough around the edges, but the team promises to address Heat 3‘s mistakes and bring us a full pit race team of goodies. A common complaint was that the game had no track map, which is a necessity for realistic driving games. Thankfully, Heat 4 is guaranteed to give you a well-designed map that will no doubt assist you in finding opponents that you can’t see. And speaking of opponents, your ability to draft with the other drivers will be easier to capitalize on thanks to the devs’ goal of improving the aerodynamics model. Also, each track you race on will have multiple racing lines and affect your tires in many different ways, both of which indicate that the race will be quite different each time. And if you feel like the button configuration isn’t to your liking, Heat 4 allows to set the controls to whatever kind of setup you wish. Before moving to the next paragraph, I will mention that 704 is touting a massive improvement in graphics and sound, the former of which makes me think the game is moving to the Unreal Engine. I say that based on what the graphics looked like in the trailer, but I could very well be wrong. Whether it’s Unreal, an updated Unity, or any other kind of engine is yet to be found out.
These new on-track features sound really awesome, but the overall depth of this game is something I really hope delivers. Luckily, 704 has promised 38 tracks, more than 150 teams and drivers, unlockable paint schemes, and a deeper career mode. I should also point out that if you prefer the Gold Edition, you’ll get the 2019 Season Pass, Martinsville at night, three-day early access, a Jeff Gordon steelbook case, exclusive access to Gordon’s legendary 24 car, and you’ll even get spotter audio voiced by the four-time Monster Energy Cup Series champion. We may as well call this edition the Jeff Gordon Edition, wouldn’t you say? Also, the #24 legend car makes me wonder if we’ll get a lot of other legend cars in this year’s game, which would be pretty sweet since it’d bring back memories of EA Sports’ NASCAR series.
I’m not gonna bank on it, but I have a good amount of confidence that NASCAR Heat 4 can have the pit stop of a lifetime and be the best mass-market NASCAR game in a very long time. As long as the developers are truly committed and they don’t make any big mistakes, NASCAR gamers of any kind might be in for a real treat. If you’ve got a PS4, Xbox One, or powerful PC, get your engine fired up in time for Heat 4‘s proverbial green flag in September.