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Take A First Look At rFactor 2 in DirectX 11

Studio 397 has released their newest road map update, giving us a first look at rFactor 2 with DirectX11 powered graphics.

Studio 397 has released their newest road map update, giving us a first look at rFactor 2 with DirectX11 powered graphics.

The switch to DirectX 11 was one of the major promises the new studio made when taking over from Image Space Incorporated last year. Also on the agenda is an improved UI, which you can check out below as well, alongside plenty of previews of new content as well.

2017 is well underway! We hope you all made a great start to the new year once the lights went out 😉 Here at Studio 397 we’ve jump-started our new year full of ambition. In with the new, out with the old: don’t forget our migrate to Steam for free offer will end on January 31st, 2017.


As we have already revealed last month, DX11 development is ahead of schedule. We have migrated much of the engine, and although there are certainly still quite a few things to do and it’s far from a straight port, we’re taking advantage of this opportunity to fix some long-standing issues. We are updating the overall look of the graphics. Lighting improvements include a new HDR tone mapper to achieve better color balance and more saturated colors, which interacts nicely with our dynamic sky model (adding contrast to our clouds). We are also updating the entire shadow system (faster and better-looking shadows) and adding some ambient occlusion techniques that provide more dynamic shadows in areas such as engine bays, the underside of tyres, and parts of the inside of the marshal hut. Here are some sneak-peek shots of our work in progress. They do not, of course, reflect the finished product, but we wanted to show you where we are right now.

These upcoming graphics improvements should be a big step up for everyone in the modding community, giving you a stronger and richer visual base to build from. We will provide a set of guidelines on how elements should look to ensure as much consistency as possible without impacting on your creative freedom.

Next month we are starting a new beta program exclusively for modders to facilitate a smooth transition to DX11. So far it looks like we’ve been able to port all existing shaders, which means existing content should continue to work. Some mods that rely on custom shaders as well as plugins that request to render to the screen (such as some overlay plugins) currently expect a DX9 graphics context and will require an update to work with DX11. In both cases, we will actively help any modders whose work is affected.


We’ve spent this month building the technical foundations for the new user interface, which allows us to link the game logic directly to an HTML5 front-end that we can embed into the simulation. At the same time, we’re putting the finishing touches on our interaction and graphical design, which means we can start building, user testing and refining the actual screens now. The new user interface offers far more flexibility, which gives us the freedom to create additional functionality down the line such as incorporating single player championships and results.

As part of the new user interface, we are developing the in-game competition structure. We all know that competition is at the heart of all racing sims, and rFactor 2 has a long-standing relationship with some of the greatest leagues in simracing covering multiple racing disciplines. Building on this strong foundation, our new competition mechanics intend to encourage frequent racing and greater accessibility, offering a rich career progression coupled with the new aligned content.

We are focused on building competition mechanics that are unique and embrace leagues and competitions.


Our content team is still working hard on the Radical and starting work on the Corvette C7.R. Last month we gave you a little Christmas present with the Nissan GT500, and we were overwhelmed with the positive responses to the car. At the same time, we also got a lot of feedback from the community about little things we could improve. We’ve tried to fix all of them and our goal is to release an update before the end of this month. This update will also include a paint template. The following shots show many of these improvements.

NOLA Motorsports Park will likely be released around the end of February. A lot of work was put into showcasing the aesthetic possibilities, and we spared no effort to bring you those 10 different layouts of the track and kart track, giving you plenty of variation and suitable configurations for all classes of cars. As more and more trackside objects are being added, we can now share some high resolution (4k) shots that show you different areas of the track. We chose to give you the full experience and modeled the whole garage area, so it’s actually a little bit of a drive to get to the actual track from there. Don’t worry though, we’ve put up some signs to guide you!

That’s all for our first monthly update of 2017. We wish you all the best and hope you will enjoy the many updates that we will bring this year.

  • Wim

    I am sorry to say, but you are getting pretty lazy lately Mr Montoya. When you blatantly copy/paste article parts from you should be smart enough to leave out my personal edits. Its sad to see That you did not even take the time to check out the official Studio 397 post.

  • LithiumFox

    Exciting. Between this and the Dirt release of iRacing, I’m excited for the future of sim racing as a whole.

    Because f*** all ya’ll fanboys. <3


  • Rantam

    Looking good! I must admit I’m specially interested about that new UI… 🙂

    Kindest regards

    • Patrik Marek

      new UI does look quite nice and will be welcomed update for sure!

  • Patrik Marek

    nice improvement, but I think it still needs quite some more 🙂 but yeah, let’s be patient

    I hope that they will especially improve loading speeds, that and UI are currently my biggest gripes with rF2 and the main reason why I uninstalled it … I really have very limited time to play games or work on mods, and I don’t want to spend that time waiting for stuff to load up

    I do wish rF2 a bright future though and hopefully they manage to get more people onboard and make it more successful platform not only for the hardcore

    • HammerX

      What do you find yourself driving most?

      • Patrik Marek

        well, if I’m honest it’s Assetto Corsa, but not becasue I would find it to be best, but becasue it’s part of working on my mods 🙂

        if I want to enjoy myself, I usually drive projectCars , Dirt Rally and Forza Horizon3

  • Manuel Riger

    would it not make more sense to move on dx12 unreal 4 engine and make a break down for end of the year with rf2 ? i mean im vr user and yes vr support is number one for me so dx11 will help big time. but the generall lack of graphic will still be there on rf2. I hope studio397 will fix the ultra ugly rain dust. ohh man i hate this like hell it looks so ugly 😀 sorry but these weather effects looks so poor i can t understand a developer can creat things like this and than say hmm yes its done we put it on the finish product = rfactor 2 rain animation :D……

    • JES

      Nope, as 30% of Steam users still use Windows 7 it makes little sense for an indie game dev like S397 to move to DX12 and lose profits from potential customers.

      • rauf00

        thats why they should start with Vulcan instead of MS DX12, im reading ab. progress, ab. future plans, then click track shots…
        hard to believe this is announcement made in 2017 oO

      • Agony

        or just use dx 11 and 12 like most devs….wow

      • JES

        If they did both DX11 and 12 target for release would probably be 2018 rather than Q1 2017…

      • Agony

        don’t you think that they already had a lot of years in their time to do that ? My thoughts are that rfctor2 has in my opinion one of the best ffb and feeling and it’s really strange that they don’t put much effort on graphics … at physics and ffb they are great all these years.

  • Kondor999

    What amazes me is how fantastic something like Raceroom looks, using dx9 and a derivative of the old rFactor engine. How did they do that? It actually looks better and more realistic than AC to me. If they could get rF2 to look like that, I’d be very happy indeed.

    • Richard Hessels

      Great textures and shaders on a really well modeled enviroment . In the end that’s all what you are looking at. DX9 or DX whatever is just a instruction set. My opinion is to much shaders stacked on top of each other don’t always make the image better.

      • Patrik Marek

        I beg to disagree, DX11 gives you way more options to have complex shaders, such as detail maps. You can also have vertex shaders Ambient Occlusion ( although that might be possible in DX9 too, can’t remeber)

        of course with same model and same textures, it would look about same in DX11 ( although you might get better shadows) , you can have displacement ( although not really suitable that much for racing games due to high cost in FPS), indirect lighting/global illumination , SSAO (this alone makes quite a difference), tessellation (although again quite costly).. and I could probably continue for quite a while

        but once you take full advantage of DX11, the difference is night and day !!!

        look at something like this , before you say that shaders don’t matter

        yes, it doesn’t show the DX9 vs DX11 comparison, but it shows some of the new functions in DX11 and what difference they make

      • Fabio Pittol

        Actually, Richard didn’t say shaders don’t matter. He said that R3E good visuals are a combinations of great textures, shaders and models, which is true, regardless.

        Although all you explain is correct, most of rF2 “lack of visuals” are way behind all these advanced features (specially because, as you pointed, some of them are not practical for a race sim right now).

        Environment-wise, yeah, new tech like SSAO will make a huge difference, as well as a better rendition of HDR approach, tonemapper etc.

        But what I think that really needs to evolve (and doesn’t rely on DX11) are the shaders by themselves. A better and modern PBR approach – like the one tools like Marmoset and Quixel focus on – would be a game changer. Which goes back to what Richard said. Better models and better textures, with a better shader.

    • 5hitm4k3r666

      I think, alot of this is down to personal art style of the different track creators, different engines, techniques and features used and ofcourse the talent. I can render you a sky texture in Terragen, that looks alot more realistic than the clouds in that last shot with the DW12, but not in real time and that’s one of the big features. PCars has a tad better clouds, but it’s still really noticable that they don’t look realistic. If you take a look at the R3E shots of Mantorp, you will notice that the sky takes quite a big part of the image and it adds alot to the dynamic look of the track. Another advantage of R3E compared to rF2 and PCars is, that they have a static and prebaked environment. You get nicer and crisper shadows, if you bake them into the textures, compared to rendering them in real time. Anyway, not to make it sound like a simx-vs-simy, but more to examplain different approaches. 😉

    • pez2k

      As far as I’m aware R3E runs on a derivative of the Lizard graphics engine that Simbin originally wrote for the Xbox 360, rather than gMotor.

      • Agony

        true at race on I think

      • pez2k

        Race On was still all isiMotor as were the other little projects around that time like Volvo The Game and RealTime Racing. R3E was their first PC release with the new engine. Race Pro on 360 is what gets confusing – it was more or less the Race On content with a different engine.

      • Agony

        thanks for info

    • Agony

      agree raceroom looks great for the engine and mostly on afternoon. but overall I think Assetto has way more detail on road cars . project cars has great graphics but it looks strange to me not natural some times and some track environments look terrible panorama for example.

    • Oliver

      R3E looks good but it’s an overly saturated, non-dynamic world with a lot of effects. It’s all about how their content fits together in their environment. Gran Turismo 5 on the PS3 is still the king when it comes to color balance, just a smidge superior to DriveClub.

  • faybn

    From a graphic designers pov the UI looks nice and modern. Thumbs up.

  • Richard Hessels

    Even the cars have different colors in DX11 – 😉

  • Dani .

    The best of a new motor de rf2 will be optimization, for example te worst thing on rf2 shadow CPU rendering, look at the flag guy…

  • Chillisteak

    Nice little update, shame there was no update on their progress with VR, just have to sit and wait patiently I guess.

  • Agony

    Welcome to DX11 2009 year…. Rfactor2 .
    Now let’s wait for 2030 to see DX12 …. ooook

  • Marc Collins

    I can’t wait for the performance boost from DX11, but nothing in any of those shots is specific to DX11. Any one of them could easily be DX9.

    • Richard Hessels

      What effect is DX 11 specific? Most DX11 effects can be done in DX9. Only takes more data bouncing up and down trough the pipeline, DX11 can do more complex effects in less time.

      • Marc Collins

        Glad you agree that these pics are irrelevant to the topic. But I guess you have to something to show when talking about a graphics system upgrade.

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