Should we be worried about Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown?

Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown is the long-awaited sequel to Test Drive Unlimited 2. Kylotonn Games announced TDUSC back in 2020 with a dazzling CGI trailer. But since then things have gone quiet, with no release date in sight.

Hong Kong Island was announced as the game’s location last year, but other than that very little has been shown. With this in mind, the stage was set for Kylotonn to finally show some proper TDUSC gameplay at last week’s Nacon Connect presentation to generate hype.

Instead, what we were shown was utterly underwhelming - and fans are not happy.

Still no Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown gameplay

For the third year in a row, TDUSC was teased at Nacon Connect with no gameplay footage. Previous CGI trailers showcased Kylotonn’s vision of exotic supercars, extravagant lifestyles, and an expansive map set in Hong Kong.

This time, we got a glimpse of TDUSC’s cars and Hong Kong setting in-game for the first time – but only for a few fleeting seconds.

The Together We Drive trailer hints at comprehensive levels of customisation that will make your car unique and stand out from the crowd. But we are never shown these customisation options.

The trailer then intercuts shots of a McLaren 720S and Porsche 911R cruising the streets of Hong Kong. This marks the first time TDUSC's in-game engine has been shown - but the footage lasts less than ten seconds. Worse still, the footage is obscured with filters and logos. Two years on, we still don’t have a clear idea of how TDUSC looks in-game.

With no traffic or pedestrians inhabiting the environment, Hong Kong looks lifeless in the trailer. At least screenshots released after the presentation do a better job of showcasing Hong Kong’s variety of locations, from narrow urban streets to dusty off-road trails reminiscent of WRC’s twisty stages. But this wasn't enough to satisfy fans.

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With 30 square miles of road to explore, Hong Kong is significantly smaller in scale than TDU 2. Nacon Connect was a chance for Kylotonn to reassure players the map will be densely detailed and fun to explore, despite its smaller size. 

After two years, fans were ready for a full gameplay reveal at Nacon Connect showcasing game modes, customisation options, and a tour of the map. You could sense the nervous anticipation during the livestream. Every trailer was flooded with comments from fans eager to see TDUSC. After more than an hour passed, TDUSC ended the presentation with a whimper rather than a bang.

Fans are understandably frustrated. At the time of writing, the Together We Drive trailer is inundated with comments from fans expressing their disappointment. One fan commented TDUSC “is officially off my wishlist.” Another said: "All excitement that I once held for this game is now gone."

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"Waiting a year to only see a minute-long trailer with no gameplay is an immediate red flag," another user wrote. Some fans are even comparing TDUSC to the much-maligned Fast & Furious Crossroads.

Is Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown in trouble?

Ultimately, we’ll never know what’s going on behind the scenes at Kylotonn. But the lack of gameplay is a worrying sign hinting at a troubled development. Either that or TDUSC is earlier in development than we originally thought.

With a 1:1 scale recreation of Hong Kong, TDUSC is Kylotonn’s biggest and most ambitious project yet. It’s going to take a long time to develop – especially for a small studio like Kylotonn. The French studio has come a long way since WRC 5, but you have to remember it doesn’t have the resources of first-party developers like Polyphony Digital and Playground Games.

Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown screenshot off-road
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Twisty off-road sections recall stages in the WRC games.

Considering the lack of gameplay footage, it’s easy to see why TDUSC was delayed until 2023 after originally targeting a September 2022 release. If Kylotonn isn’t confident showing gameplay footage at this stage, it won’t be surprising if TDUSC gets delayed until 2024.

At this rate, we probably won’t see any gameplay until closer to release next year. Because of this, it’s hard to shake the feeling that TDUSC was announced way too early.

Ultimately, delaying the game was the right call. We've already seen what happens when games like Battlefield 2042 are rushed to release. The developers can take as long as they need to make the game as polished as possible.

With the current WRC game series wrapping up with WRC Generations, Kylotonn can give TDUSC the full attention it needs to thrive and avoid repeating mistakes made with TDU2. As this is the sequel to TDU2, TDUSC is a chance to right the wrongs from TDU2's terrible buggy launch.

Since Test Drive Unlimited 2 launched back in 2011, the open-world racing landscape has changed considerably. When it eventually arrives, TDUSC will face stiff competition, going head-to-head with Forza Horizon - a series that has redefined open-world racing games.

Over the years, Forza Horizon’s repeated formula has become increasingly stale. With a focus on car ownership, luxury lifestyles, and rival clans, TDUSC looks set to reinvigorate open-world racing games once again – just as the original Test Drive Unlimited pioneered massively multiplayer racing games in 2006.

But these underwhelming teaser trailers are damaging the Test Drive brand and frustrating fans. Staying silent like Rockstar Games would be a far more effective way of generating hype than releasing trailers with nothing worth showing that alienates fans. The next trailer needs to show some actual gameplay to get fans excited and show what TDUSC has to offer.

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