Assetto Corsa and Assetto Corsa Competizione are both driving simulators developed by Kunos Simulazioni. However, the simulators are set out to achieve vastly different goals and have key differences as such.
ACC is developed with the intention of simulating GT class racing with a focus on the Blancpain GT series and the Spa 24hrs. ACC keeps the focus on racing others in real life GT spec cars in a PvP fashion – giving the experience and feeling as though you are roleplaying as a world class GT driver.
Assetto Corsa however, aims to simulate a wide range of vehicles and tracks – from cruising in a Fiat 500 Abarth in the Scottish Highlands to racing LMP1 cars down the Mulsanne Straight. The more varied driving experience of AC attracts a wide range of players giving everyone the driving sensation they desire.
1. Game Engine
The key factor that makes the differences between the two are the game engines from which they have been developed on. ACC was developed on the Unreal Engine 4, created by Epic games, giving an extremely focused, complex and detailed simulation. The Unreal engine allows the physics simulation of the tyres and aerodynamics to be hyper focused to provide an unprecedented realism in the driving experience and feel of GT racing cars.
AC has been built on an in-house game engine developed by Kunos themselves, designed to be extremely open and customisable. The ability to alter and add to the game engine has allowed the community to heavily modify the game with cars, track, graphical mods, and physics tweaks.
The key differences in the physics model between ACC and AC comes down to the finer details. ACC has been built upon the same physics model that was seen in AC. However, it was altered vastly to fit the Unreal Engine’s product set, enabling an increase in detail of the simulation.
One of the key areas of improvement has been the tire physics. Previously, in AC the tires were simulated with a one point contact patch system providing a single point of reference for the tire physics to be calculated upon. Now, in ACC this has been developed to a five point system. The increase in gathered information on the contact patch of the tire has allowed a more accurate 3D simulation of the tire in terms of flex and damping with relation to pressure and temperature. The additional information can then be fully exploited to give the most realistic tire simulation in a Kunos game yet.
However, ACC’s improvements have not stopped there one of the most complex parts of a car’s simulation has been chassis flex, the twisting and contortion of the underlying framework of the car. Previously Kunos had stated this was not possible in AC due to the great variety of cars and lack of accurate data. With the more focused range of vehicles Kunos has been able to now develop individual chassis flex for each car. With the addition of this new point of information a new level of detail has been brought to each car that was never seen before in AC.
3. Tracks and Cars
AC and ACC take very different approaches to adding in both cars and tracks to the games.
In ACC there are intentionally a limited number of cars due to the focus on the GT racing series specification. The total number of cars in ACC comes to 34, this include GT3, GT4, Cup and SuperTrofeo. With such a hyper focused range of cars Kunos were able to add an extreme high level of detail to each car. This level of detail was achieved using CAD files and detailed photographs of the interiors to gain the finer details. For this reason Kunos has leveraged the knowledge of an array of GT racing drivers such as David Perel to improve the driving feel, look and sounds experience to what is found while driving a real life GT car. The level of detail in ACC did not stop with the cars, the same care and attention was taken to all 15 tracks in the game.
Each track in ACC has been developed using a laser scanned model to represent every surface change and undulation. Using such accurate data allows the tracks to almost be exact representations to their real life counterparts. This level of detail can be an invaluable training tool for real life racers to understand the characteristics of a track before ever setting foot on the tarmac. Kunos did not stop there, recently they have added the addition of grip variation from the 2018 to 2019 track versions, where resurfacing has occurred, allowing more representative lap times to be achieved in the game.
In AC a much wider scope of cars were added to the game with the final official Kunos car count reaching 178 and hundreds more developed by the community and manufacturers. The range of official Kunos cars consisted of full blown race cars such as the Ferrari SF70H 2017 Formula 1 car to everyday street cars such as the BMW 1 Series M Coupe. The community cars vary even more but most notably, Ferrari and Dallara developed their own cars into the game using real life data to facilitate esports leagues for driver development. The huge range of cars meant that no matter what kind of driving experience desired, AC has this to offer. However, the huge range of cars means that each car does not reach the same level of detail as seen in ACC.
The range of tracks in AC is much of the same story exhibiting 18 tracks officially from Kunos with many more that have been created by the community. The advantage this gives AC is that there is a huge variety of types of tracks from real life roads to race tracks from every corner of the world. All of AC’s tracks will provide more of a general representation rather than an accurate one which can be useful for learning the layout of a track but the finer details are lost due to the lack of ground based data.
Both ACC and AC have had such large success among fans and racers alike due to the vast and complex multiplayer experience in both. These online experiences allow you and all your friends to race, drift, cruise and have lots of fun as if you were all driving the same piece of tarmac.
In ACC the multiplayer experience is heavily focused on bringing the real life Blancpain GT series experience to the online world. The game provides not only a general server list where you can jump in and race at any time of the day but also competition servers where the racing gets much more serious. These competition servers have been designed to give the feel of a real race weekend with long qualifying and racing sessions to really have you immersed in the experience of being a professional driver at the real life event. This level of mirroring of real life racing often brings an enjoyable experience but with long sessions and no rewinds it can become frustrating if you are taken out on the first lap by an over eager racer. This is not to say the experience is not class leading, when it all goes well, but highlights the time commitment required to truly see the full breadth of what the game has to offer.
AC as a whole is a much lighter experience when it comes to online multiplayer. What AC aims to do is provide whatever driving experience the player desires and this is reflected in the structure of the multiplayer. Players of the game can go onto the server lists and see everything from F3 racing to cruising around the LA canyons. The range of provided driving experiences creates a much more casual experience as you can drop in and drop out with ease and still have plenty of fun. This is one of the key aspects of AC that keeps players playing even to this day.
One final note to touch on is the array of adjustability within the two games in regards to the car dynamics. In both AC and ACC, you are provided with a huge range of adjustability to each car from suspension damping, camber and toe angle to fuel loads and aerodynamics. However, there are some slight differences between the two. As ACC aims to represent a real racing series, this comes with a host of rules on car adjustability that mirror those of the real world series rules and regulations. Examples of this could be the in car gear ratios, which are not adjustable amongst the GT cars in ACC as this is set out in the Blancpain series regulations.
Whereas in AC, unless specified by the developer, you can adjust almost every feature that the car has to offer. Another thing to note is due to AC’s in-house game engine, you can also adjust things such as sounds and physics parameters from the file directories of the game with relative ease. Aftermarket programs such as Content Manager have streamlined this process greatly giving full control of the cars and tracks to the end user.
One of the most popular aspects with both AC and ACC has been the ability for everyone to use these features to create set ups for each and every car. The set ups are often used in the racing aspect to make the cars more drivable and gain those extra tenths where it counts.
In Assetto Corsa, setups mainly were free to download and largely unregulated, giving a very trial and error process to finding one that worked. ACC, however, still has some elements of this creative freedom, however, for the first time there has been a series of default setups made within the simulator from out of the box.
The desire to have a setup that is reliable and predictable due to the realistic nature of the racing in ACC has allowed companies such as The Coach Dave Academy to use real life drivers and engineers to develop a product that can assure this level of quality. These setups come at a small cost but pay their way into making you a more consistent and accurate driver as they are built around making you both faster and safer.
To Finish off, it is clear that both AC and ACC are great driving experiences – but ones which cater to very different audiences. The players of each often overlap but both have their advantages and downfalls. ACC will give you a feel of realism but is very limited in scope whereas AC gives you all the content you could desire but falls short on the finer details of real life driving. Both are great simulators and both are an absolute must for any person wishing to dive into the sim racing world.