Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown is an open-world game for hardcore racers

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one of the hyper car showrooms in Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown

While the Forza Horizon series has been a revolution for open-world racing games, the genre has a long history. It has been 12 years since the last Test Drive Unlimited game was released, with five Forza Horizon games releasing since then.

It’s funny, then, that so many open-world racing games are trying to mimic the style of Forza Horizon, and in turn its success. The Crew: Motorfest, launching in October, is the most obvious example of that, and a lot of people expect Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown to be similar.

Having attended a presentation from the devs at KT Racing and played the game for 45 minutes, that’s far from the case. If anything, I think the devs may have taken it too far in the opposite direction.

A racing game for hardcore fans

Solar Crown is an open world racer for the hardcore racing fans. Progression, car collection, and the driving mechanics themselves are all a lot trickier.

As the devs told me, it’s a game more focused on driving culture and car collection than racing and exploration. Your objectives are to collect cars, level up, and win races against other players online.

a starter car outside a workshop in Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown
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There is no offline mode to chill out with. While AI racers will fill spots when necessary, you’ll always be racing against other real world players. Objectives change depending on how many you’re facing at once, but there will always be a competitive aspect to Solar Crown.

Progression will be a grind, too. After I jumped into a top of the range Bugatti Chiron, the developers told me that it’ll be 100 hours in-game before I’m able to buy it myself, alongside the other cars in the ‘Hyper’ class.

You won’t be drowning in mega-powerful cars from the start like you are in Forza Horizon. You need to work to afford them, improve your skills, and win more races before you can put more power beneath your right foot.

A real time commitment

TDU: Solar Crown is a game you’re going to have to commit to to get the most out of it. If you’re not getting ready for the Solar Crown competition every three months, grinding to get the best cars, and grouping up with equally invested friends, your experience will be limited.

It’s what KT Racing is going for, though. It’s for racing games fans who want to get heavily invested in a game and master it over time. I just hope that doesn’t alienate too many people hoping for a fun open world.

Solar Crown’s 1:1 recreation of Hong Kong island is gorgeous, boasting 650km of roads, before taking into account the various off-road tracks and paths that have been expanded to accommodate cars.

It’ll test your driving skills more than more purpose-built maps will do, and features a decent variety of locations. I hope there are some race events that really show it off, maybe racing from one side of the island to the other.

a small Mercedes in a showroom in Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown
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With each in-game day being 48 minutes of real-time, dynamic weather changing up how cars handle, and 24 wreck parts to find, there should be a reason to explore.

Community first

The community focus is the other aspect that KT Racing showed off to us. Not only do you get a room to make your own, which gets bigger as you progress, but you even get to wander around massive showrooms when buying new cars, other players doing the same around you.

Buying a car, changing how it looks, and making it your own, is supposed to be an experience in and of itself, just like it is in the real world. It’s not supposed to be something you do with just a simple press of a button. All of the paint and interior colours are taken directly from the manufacturer’s real options, and window/roof movements are all authentic to the car.


There are two clans to join to group up with friends, as well as a progression system in each one, and even the six radio stations sync up between players when part of a group so that you’ve all got the same tunes on.

Once you actually get into a car, it’s clear there’s more to the driving mechanics than you’ll find in other open world racers. That’s to be expected, with Solar Crown coming from hardcore rally sim developers, but it’s great to experience real differences between each car and vehicle class.

I had some issues with handling model bugs, so I didn’t get a completely well rounded test drive of the racing, but what I did play felt good.

At the end of the day, though, I think Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown really needs to push its “driving experience” focus and car culture sensibilities. From my time with the game, it’s clear it’s one you truly need to commit to to get the best from it, and I think that might put off the fans looking for a casual open-world racer.

For more articles like this, take a look at our Features and Test Drive Unlimited page.