Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown Confirmed “Early 2024”, Closed Beta Available Soon

In a special TDU Connect event broadcast today, KT Racing has shown off the first gameplay footage of Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown and revealed both a new launch window and the existence of an upcoming closed beta.

As expected following the information contained in Nacon’s legal company filing last week, the game has slipped again from its already delayed 2023 launch to “early 2024”. There’s no specific date yet, though Nacon appears to be expecting a February or March launch, just hitting the end of the 2023 financial year.

One big change on that front is that you can now “wishlist” the game on PlayStation Store as well as Steam. Additionally, a limited number of fans will be able to get their hands on the game in as little as two weeks, when a three-day closed beta launches on July 24. It’s not clear on which platforms the beta will take place though.

That all might be complicated somewhat by the fact that KT Racing personnel have gone on strike following a dissatisfying meeting with Nacon’s chief operating officer Laurent Honoret only yesterday.

The staff cite concerns over pay, conditions, remote working, opacity in how management at Kylotonn and Nacon negotiate resources, and “a pathogenic and authoritarian management style that threatens workers’ mental health”.

However, that didn’t stop the TDU Connect event from going ahead, and to start with it was the game’s creative director Alain Jarniou showing off — in an alpha build — some of the activities at the Solar Hotel game hub.

Jarniou began at the player room, which features a view out over Hong Kong Island and an augmented reality window that displays the player’s “card”. This features your rank in various metrics, a calendar, and a list of daily challenges, among other things. Notably the room seems to be divided into zones, and Jarniou remarks that you need to progress if you want a nicer one.

From there he heads to the lobby, which appears to be a PlayStation Home-like space for meeting with other players through their chosen avatars. There you can team up with other players and head out to take on challenges together.

Two other interior locations were also shown, by way of the the headquarters of the Sharps and the Streets — the two rival factions in TDUSC. While the Sharps had a rather high-society HQ, the Streets hang out in a neon-lit nightclub, populated by rather a lot of clones, though again this is an alpha build.

Naturally a race would also break out, although it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions over the physics and graphics at this stage of the game. It did give us a look at some of the functionality however.

The FRIM — Free Roam Instant Money — mechanism returns from TDU2. This gives players on-the-spot earnings from performing the expected selection of exciting driving maneuvers, such as going fast, driving clean, overtaking traffic, and similar. This also underpins some head-to-head challenges between Sharps and Streets, with teams required to collect FRIM to specific targets.

We also caught a glimpse of a something similar to a speed zone, with one of the players given two stars (out of three) for their average speed along a particular road section. However we’re not sure how that feeds into the gameplay loop.

In general the UI looks relatively clean, with a route shown on a mini-map on one side — with AR overlays showing the route and corners ahead — and a simple tachometer/speed/gear display on the other, which also shows driving aids. This doesn’t seem to show a boost gauge or anything similar, so we’re not expecting to see power slides as a major game feature.

A lot of the environment seems to be destructible, with the exception of buildings and significant structures — and concrete and metal supports for them — and the cars also accumulate damage. That can be repaired in gas stations, although you have to stop and hold a button for this rather than there being an auto-repair system.

One other item we caught sight of on the stream was “wrecks”. This is something teased a while ago, and another returning feature from TDU2, which sends players to find abandoned, broken cars in order to collect enough parts to restore and build one example of the wrecked machine. This didn’t feature in a major way on the stream, so we don’t know exactly how it will function in TDUSC.

Finally the stream closed out with an interesting lack of a Nintendo Switch logo. Only PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, and Epic/Steam logos appeared, which could suggest that the Switch version has joined the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the virtual bin.

We’ll likely hear more about the game in the coming weeks, with around 7-8 months from the February/March launch window. In the meantime you can re-watch the TDU Connect stream below:

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