Hands On With GRID Legends (VIDEO)

GRID Legends was initially announced in summer 2021 as the kick-off to the EA Play event. The live-streamed event took place just weeks after EA finalized its acquisition of Codemasters and its entire catalog of racing games.

We were impressed that EA decided to lead with a new Codemasters title as part of its biggest event of the year. We took as EA publicly flexing that they picked up a significant chunk of the racing game market.

GRID Legends is the follow-up to the series reboot, which was released in late 2019. GRID 2019 introduced innovative new mechanics like the “nemesis system,” which allows the AI to grow a personal vendetta against the player and causes the AI to race each other more realistically.

The nemesis system will return in GRID Legends along with a new narrative story mode that features live-action actors shot in digital environments in a similar way that Lucasfilm shot The Mandalorian Disney Plus show.

Our interest was piqued after the 2021 presentation, but we wanted to know more. Luckily Codemasters and EA invited us to go hands-on with an early build of GRID Legends before its release. To see our first impressions, check out the video below.

GRID Legends gameplay preview

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FYI the early build I played was PC only. If you’re curious, You can see the PC’s specs I played on below.

MotorworldHype PC specs:

Make & Model: Acer Predator G3-710
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700 at 3.60GHz
RAM: 32GB of whatever type of RAM Acer threw in
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1070 8GB

Because I played on PC and, as you can see, my PC rig is not exactly what you would call “current,” we’re not going to get into the graphical performance that much. We’re sure the game would look much better on current hardware and consoles. We confirmed with the developers that GRID Legends will have 120 fps on the new consoles like PS5 and Xbox Series X.

Instead, I will focus more on the features, gameplay, and my impressions.

The developers used GRID Legends’ new “race creator” tool to create 12 curated events that provided a taste of all the new driving disciplines and a look at the new locations.

One of the first things I noticed when starting the game is that GRID’s signature over-the-top presentation is carried over. I mean that in the best way. As someone who grew up on 90s Japanese arcade racers like Daytona, Sega Rally, Super GT, and Ridge Racer, I appreciate when a racing game has an exciting presentation that gets players hyped.

While GRID games have an “arcade wrapper,” the developers are aiming to ensure that there is latitude within GRID Legends to make the game fun for novice players and deep enough for those looking for a bigger challenge.

New Electric class racing

GRID Legends gameplay screenshot of new electric class formula car
GRID Legends new Electric class

One of the first events I tried out was an electric class race. The electric class is new to GRID Legends and features “boost” gates. By driving through these gates, players build up their boost meter, which allows them extra power to be used at a time of their choosing.

"Boost gate" as seen in GRID Legends new Electric class racing mode
“Boost gate” as seen in GRID Legends new Electric class racing

The trick is that the boost gates are always placed off the racing line. That turns the gates into a “risk vs. reward” mechanic. Do you risk losing time or opening yourself up for a pass to build boost that you can use later on? It is a compelling prospect and one that lends itself to strategic gameplay.

Stadium truck chaos

GRID Legends Stadium Trucks screenshot
GRID Legends Stadium Trucks screenshot

Another standout for me was the Stadium Trucks. Truck events do not have a unique mechanic like the electric class, but it doesn’t need it. Stadium trucks are pure chaos and require laser focus to keep them upright, much less on track due to their unique suspension physics. However, that is not to say the physics are unrealistic. The trucks never reacted to my inputs in a way that I thought was nonsensical.

Needless to say, I crashed a lot, but I didn’t care because I was having so much fun bouncing my truck off the others and taking sick jumps.

I can easily see stadium truck racing as a great way to blow off steam between other modes or a way to hone one’s car control skills due to the delicate touch it takes to keep the trucks on the track and ahead of the competition.

Drift mode returns

GRID Legends Drift Mode screenshot
GRID Legends Drift Mode screenshot

The fan-requested drifting mode returns from a hiatus from the previous GRID game. I could not quite get a feel for drift execution, and I can tell this is one of the modes I will have to spend a lot of time in to get right. I will say that it felt easier to drift in GRID Legends than in other games. I particularly liked the UI, which was complete with a “drift angle” meter at the bottom of the screen.

Elimination mode is “battle royale” on a race track

GRID Legends Elimination Mode screenshot
Elimination Mode screenshot

The elimination mode could quickly become a fan-favorite in online races. Essentially the goal of an elimination race is to stay out of the bottom of the pack as the last few cars are eliminated at the end of each lap which gives the events a battle royale vibe. I didn’t fair too well in any of the elimination events I ran in, but it is easy to see the appeal. However, there is a ton of trolling potential here, so Codemasters may need to make some tweaks to this mode once it hits the masses.

Should you look forward to GRID Legends?

GRID Legends Aston Martin Vulcan screenshot
GRID Legends Aston Martin Vulcan

I definitely have thoughts about what I played of GRID Legends so far, but as I mentioned before, I went hands-on with an unfinished build, so I am holding back on my opinions until I play the entire thing. However, I can say that those who enjoyed the previous GRID game from 2019 should feel confident looking forward to GRID Legends. I was impressed with what I experienced so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing if Chris Smith and his team at Codemasters can stick the landing.

Based on what you’ve seen here, what do you think of GRID Legends so far? Are you excited about it? Or, are you reserving judgment for now? Let me know in the comments below or tweet to me at @MotorworldHype.

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