It’s quite amazing how fast the sim racing landscape has changed. In recent years, there has been a big shift in the PC sim racing community towards more licensed content. The shift has been so dramatic that even a title built for modding, rFactor 2, has had to move towards licensed content to survive. This never used to be the case.
For many years, the PC sim racing community was kept going by some incredibly talented people. The shelf life of rFactor, GTR 2, Grand Prix Legends and Richard Burns Rally have all been extended to the point where people still race them today.
The modern trend for licensed content has hit the modding community, along with the occasional threat of legal action. With that, there’s been a decline in original content built by modders. However, there are some that have emerged from the darkness.
Since its release, Assetto Corsa has lacked a day/night transition — enter the modders. For some time now, some incredibly talented people have been working on bringing day/night and a whole host of weather conditions to the title. The result? Sol 1.0.
Even though there are an incredible amount of options in Sol, my focus went straight to the day/night aspect. Could it really be that a modder has implemented a fundamental feature to a game that the original developer didn’t? In short, yes.
I’ve used a lot of mods over the years that have left me smiling like a Cheshire cat, but this one is in a completely different league. Cars and tracks come and go, but feature-driven mods like this don’t. I’m not aware of any other mod that has had such a profound effect on a game. Perhaps RSRBR for Richards Burns, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a game changer.
Mods tend to vary hugely in quality, but this one is right towards the very top, if not at the top. There’s a quality to it that makes it hard to believe this is a third party add-on. It doesn’t just fit in with the look of Assetto Corsa, it enhances it.
The way shadows lengthened and the sun illuminated the world as it set was gorgeous. Even at 60x time acceleration, it felt entirely natural. There was even a subtlety to the evolving sky, with the orange of the setting sun blending in, rather than dominating the horizon.
The beauty and immersion continued as darkness dominated the world. Before this mod, Assetto Corsa only supported a single light source, but Sol gives the world a vibrancy in the darkness. Track lights and headlights worked together seamlessly to, once again, make me feel like I was there. Even the headlights in the mirrors were impressive.
Another tick in the box for the Sol mod was the way the headlights work. So few games, even with day/night as a stock feature, contain headlights that actually illuminate the way forward. With this, you can actually see what is coming way ahead of you. It’s such a simple, yet fantastic part of this mod.
Perhaps the only place it falls down a little is a slight lack of light pollution. For that to be my biggest gripe about a mod, and it really isn’t much of one, says it all about Sol 1.0.
Some of the coolest sim racing memories I have are from GTR 2 while driving the GT1 cars at Spa, into darkness. Combining Spa with the Race Sim Studio GT1 mod, the nostalgia hit me hard. Watching the cars in front snake up Eau Rouge one by one verges on magical. As an endurance racing fan, I had goosebumps while recording the video. There aren’t many sim racing experiences that can claim to have had that effect.