We speak to Eden Games, developers of the upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive, Gear.Club Unlimited 2.
Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is the follow-up to the studio’s 2017 Nintendo Switch motorsport racer.
Unlike its predecessor – which was a solid update of a successful mobile game – Gear.Club Unlimited 2 has been built from the ground up for the Switch.
With its release just around the corner, we spoke to lead designer, Yannick Berthier.
Thumbsticks: There was a little skepticism when it was announced that Gear.Club Unlimited was coming to the Nintendo Switch, given its roots as a mobile game. How did it feel to put those worries to rest with the final product, and were you pleased with the reaction from players?
Yannick Berthier: A year ago, just before the release of Gear.Club Unlimited, we couldn’t wait to receive feedback from the players. As far as I know, it was the first time that a free-to-play mobile game was brought to console as a premium game. At the time, in terms of racing games on the Nintendo Switch, there was only Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, with its arcade-style gameplay. We weren’t sure if players would enjoy a motorsport-oriented racing game on a Nintendo device, so it was a big gamble. We received a lot of positive feedback from players and they seemed happy with our work.
Is there a difference in how you structure a game for play on mobile and console?
There are indeed huge differences between platforms. The mobile version of Gear.Club is for players on the go, so we need to focus our work on very short game sessions. The Nintendo Switch is designed for families and allows multiple scenarios: playing alone or with friends, with different kinds of controllers – such as the Joy-Con and Pro Controller – and for much longer sessions. We took special care to offer an experience suited to all players and scenarios, while taking advantage of the added potential of the Nintendo Switch to create a far superior simulation.
The Nintendo Switch is home to many games, but few ‘real world’ racers. You’ve found a gap in the market, but this has led to higher expectations for Gear.Club Unlimited 2. Do you feel the pressure to improve on the first game, and which aspects were you keen to improve?
Of course. Once again, we will be the only motorsport game on the Nintendo Switch, which is a great responsibility. Especially because, as you said, players have higher expectations for this release. I believe they will be pleasantly surprised to see the more realistic direction we are taking with Gear.Club Unlimited 2.
Preview footage suggests that Gear.Club Unlimited 2 is a big step up in terms of scope and visuals. Has it helped having a longer period of time with the Nintendo Switch hardware?
Absolutely. We have now two years of experience on this console and you can feel it in the render. The production stage was longer, giving us more time to overhaul our graphics engine. Now we can have 12 opponents in huge environments with the best possible resolution. It’s a great achievement.
The game’s wealth of customisation options are impressive. How do you balance every possible variable to ensure the racing experience is always satisfying?
Our car designers work with in-house technology. At Eden Games, we have been developing video games for more than 25 years now. Our physics engine is highly advanced and allows us to launch telemetric simulations whenever we want. We can check the balance of all settings on a huge number of models. Of course, we also manually approve all cars, to make sure the feel of each one is right.
Although the first game features over 400 races, there was some criticism that tracks were often short. Can we expect a greater variety of environments and courses in Gear.Club Unlimited 2?
I think they will be delighted to see that we listened to them and to discover the 1800 miles of roads available in Gear.Club Unlimited 2. We have new environments, new game modes and more competitive championships. I am sure they will love our new sticker editor to customize their cars.
Gear.Club Unlimited 2 also features an increased roster of 50+ officially licensed cars. Do you have any particular favourites? And how do you choose which vehicles make the cut?
The car I enjoy driving the most is the Porsche 918. It is easy to handle and has great drifting potential. It also has great acceleration and gives tremendous sensations.
Can you tell us how online and local multiplayer is implemented in Gear.Club Unlimited 2.
In local mode, up to four friends can play together with a split-screen, in single races or in a championship. If you want to play online, the best option is to join a club. You can also compete against ghosts in leagues, or against other players in our new synchronous mode.
Has Nintendo been supportive in the production and release of both Gear.Club Unlimited games?
Yes, completely. They have supported us since the very beginning of our adventure on the Nintendo Switch. It was a real honor for us to be present at their official booths at the Paris Games Week and Madrid Games Week this year.
Gear.Club Unlimited 2 will be released worldwide for the Nintendo Switch on December 4, 2018.