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NASCAR Heat 4 Hands-On Preview, Including Over 7 Minutes of Exclusive Gameplay Footage

NASCAR Heat 4

NASCAR Heat 4 Hands-On Preview, Including Over 7 Minutes of Exclusive Gameplay Footage

704 Games is set to release the fourth incarnation of NASCAR Heat in just over a month, and the group was kind enough to invite me to their “compound” for the day. We played NASCAR Heat 4, talked NASCAR Heat 4 and broke down all the improvements this year to the series. There were a lot of things I loved, some things I liked and some things I cannot discuss. With that being said, there is plenty I can talk about so let’s get to it.

Updated Physics

What a difference a year can make in the way each car in each series now handles. Of course, it’s easy to say that each car felt much better in the way it handled, but the reasoning behind that statement is what has me excited. In prior versions of NASCAR Heat, it felt as if the car rotated and turned on a single point/axis or a “pole” that was placed in the center of the vehicle. With NH4 though, the game provides multiple points of emphasis when it comes to car physics, and the result is a car that reacts more realistically and has a much “heavier” overall feel.

The new improvements allow the driver to rub and race a bit easier in a realistic fashion when fighting for position. There also seemed to be real connectivity between the controller and the action on the track, as I could feel the car and its reaction to the road and the other drivers around me. All this combined provides for a much more enjoyable time on the track with NASCAR Heat 4.

Multiple Lines Driven

An common complaint with NASCAR Heat 3 was that the AI drivers would come across as complacent when racing each other and were casually satisfied with their current on-track position. They rarely showed urgency trying to move through the pack and reacted the same, whether it was lap 20 or 200.

In my time with NH4, I found them not only being aggressive with me but with each other as well. In watching the AI drivers ahead of me on the track, it was quite noticeable the effort they were making trying to find more speed and overtake each other by utilizing multiple grooves and approaches. On top of that, the AI drivers showed a stronger reluctance to give up their current position.

Graphics And Lighting

One of the knocks that existed with the older Unity engine the NASCAR Heat games had been built on had been the struggle to provide developers with both strong graphics and frames per second at the same time. Now that the Unity engine has been updated and improved, the ability to deliver better graphics, realistic physics and natural lighting have become much easier for the developer, all while maintaining a steady frames per second.

The overall improvements were noticeable the moment I put eyes on the screen and had a controller in my hand. The colors are deeper and more natural, and the game has a much more realistic look and feel. NASCAR Heat 4’s improvements in the graphics department, specifically the car, track and crowd detail, had an immediate impact on my experience and helped deliver a much-improved feeling of immersion.

Career Mode Depth

Amazingly, I was informed that 80 percent of the time spent with the NASCAR Heat series by gamers was spent in career mode. So, it makes sense that 704 Games would look to create a deeper and more challenging experience for this mode. Some of the improvements will include less “Hot Seat” time, deeper crew development and execution, and the ability to start your career in any one of the three series, instead of having to work your way up to the Cup series.

For team owners, the game will now force you to manage your money and your car on the weekend as car damage will carry over and cost money to fix and improve. Running short on funds and your superspeedway car is still damaged? Surprise, that is the car you’re taking to the next superspeedway you visit, regardless of the vehicle’s current condition.

Career mode now realistically blends all aspects of being a car owner together and forces you to stop being so singularly focused. Instead, you now have to see your career as a collection of many parts.

List Of New Improvements In NASCAR Heat 4

  • Legend drivers
  • Upgraded UI
  • Unlockable paint schemes
  • Start in any series (career)
  • Staff specialist (career)
  • Hired pit crew (career)
  • Clean driving bonus
  • Draft partners
  • Track map
  • Tony Stewart dirt car
  • In-car camera view ( left/right view)
  • And many more…

Final Thoughts For Now

I need to be careful not to overstate the improvements seen from year to year in any given title, but I have no issue saying that the changes to the core gameplay are substantial and will be felt throughout all modes of play. The testing I did was on a PS4, and from graphic fidelity to smart and aggressive AI (and a lot in between), the improvements were tangible and on point. Look for a new preview of NASCAR Heat 4 about two weeks before launch.

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  1. Any ideas on how the deep the statistics are in career mode? Can we get a 10-Lap average for practice, laps led post-race, historical stats that move year to year? Looks promising though.
    Proof21
    Any ideas on how the deep the statistics are in career mode? Can we get a 10-Lap average for practice, laps led post-race, historical stats that move year to year? Looks promising though.

    They have added career stats for career mode that was quite in-depth. I will take a deeper look when I go back in a couple of weeks
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Any info on the driving models this year? Still just "arcade" and "simulation"? Or do we actually have options to set the experience we're looking for such as ABS, TC, SC, etc. etc.
    Sounds like some decent improvements there, but still in wait and see mode here.
    This might be a good candidate for me to buy digital from the MS Xbox store and try it quickly, then if I'm not happy with it request a return/refund. What do they give again, an hour or something like that before they don't let you ask for a refund?
    DukesofHazzard
    Will this year's game FINALLY be in 4k or HDR.

    I thought I saw an HDR setting...but please let me confirm this with them before getting too excited
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    brandon27
    Any info on the driving models this year? Still just "arcade" and "simulation"? Or do we actually have options to set the experience we're looking for such as ABS, TC, SC, etc. etc.
    Sounds like some decent improvements there, but still in wait and see mode here.
    This might be a good candidate for me to buy digital from the MS Xbox store and try it quickly, then if I'm not happy with it request a return/refund. What do they give again, an hour or something like that before they don't let you ask for a refund?

    Let me get a full breakdown of the driving options and update you. Should only be a day or two before I can grab that info
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Some nice updates. The fact that damage carries forward in career mode is promising.
    Is race damage realistic? If someone crashes into a wall are they out of the race or just need a quick pit stop like in previous titles/are mechanical DNF's in the game?
    And the number of improvements EA Vancouver has announced for NHL's career mode is...what are we on here, still zero?  704 evidently wants my money next month, EA, not so much.
    KSUowls
    Some nice updates. The fact that damage carries forward in career mode is promising.
    Is race damage realistic? If someone crashes into a wall are they out of the race or just need a quick pit stop like in previous titles/are mechanical DNF's in the game?

    Mechanical failures are in for CPU, but only for human drivers if you over-rev your engine while in manual. The damage model has been tweaked ever so slightly...but will be very reminiscent of last year.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    This all looks good but I just need one correction more; it kills the immersion for me in Career Mode where, if you chose to drive an existing car, the former driver's name always shows up on back, front and window area of the roof on a car/truck.   I use the chase camera and it completely pulls me out of the moment to see "Davis" or the like and not my Driver's name.   At least have that changed for the front and back, even if the "Signature Sill" has to remain, I could live with that.
    bluengold34_OS
    They have added career stats for career mode that was quite in-depth. I will take a deeper look when I go back in a couple of weeks
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

    You just made my day. Thank you sir!
    Omega79
    This all looks good but I just need one correction more; it kills the immersion for me in Career Mode where, if you chose to drive an existing car, the former driver's name always shows up on back, front and window area of the roof on a car/truck.* *I use the chase camera and it completely pulls me out of the moment to see "Davis" or the like and not my Driver's name.* *At least have that changed for the front and back, even if the "Signature Sill" has to remain, I could live with that.

    Well, I think you might be really happy when the full game drops. I'm not saying it's in...but I'm not not saying it's in either.
    I really enjoyed this review. Was just curious if there would be more legends than just Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Personally I'm hoping for Mark Martin.
    ThereIGo6
    I really enjoyed this review. Was just curious if there would be more legends than just Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Personally I'm hoping for Mark Martin.

    That I will leave for 704 to disclose, because I am actually not sure
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    bluengold34_OS
    Mechanical failures are in for CPU, but only for human drivers if you over-rev your engine while in manual. The damage model has been tweaked ever so slightly...but will be very reminiscent of last year.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

    :(
    Thanks for the info. Guess I'll wait for NH5 to see if we can get more of a sim experience.
    Just an FYI for anyone who preordered the Steelbook:
    NASCAR Heat Fans! The manufacturer of our fancy steelbook, part of the Gold Edition pre-order, has unfortunately let us down and cancelled the entire shipment.
    Not to disappoint, we’ve sourced an even better alternative Gold Collector’s Edition case (which looks mighty fine) and as a way of rewarding all those passionate fans that have already gone Gold, we’re bundling additional free car schemes! You heard that right, we’re adding more. For free.
    We apologize for this change, please contact us at if you have any questions!
    Is there an option to turn hud items off? Like names over cars , track map and so on. I like to race with a clean screen , for me it adds realism. I bought the first heat game but passed on 2 and 3 because this feature was not available.
    Hey Bob - Just following up - any new information to share in regards to career stats? I am liking what I am seeing, but would love to hear more about what stats are captured in the game.
    Omega79
    This all looks good but I just need one correction more; it kills the immersion for me in Career Mode where, if you chose to drive an existing car, the former driver's name always shows up on back, front and window area of the roof on a car/truck.* *I use the chase camera and it completely pulls me out of the moment to see "Davis" or the like and not my Driver's name.* *At least have that changed for the front and back, even if the "Signature Sill" has to remain, I could live with that.

    bluengold34_OS
    Well, I think you might be really happy when the full game drops. I'm not saying it's in...but I'm not not saying it's in either.

    Has this been confirmed? Really hoping the driver names are off if my career player is driving the car.
    mcavner
    Has this been confirmed? Really hoping the driver names are off if my career player is driving the car.

    It’s absolutely confirmed - from the developers mouth to my ears, and I saw for myself during the last month for the game review
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    bluengold34_OS
    It’s absolutely confirmed - from the developers mouth to my ears, and I saw for myself during the last month for the game review
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

    Excellent news! Thank you for the response.

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