Nascar 21 IgnitionSource: Motorsport Games

What you need to know

  • Motorsport Games has finally revealed NASCAR 21 Ignition, the replacement for the NASCAR Heat series.
  • The new game incorporates the physics engine from rFactor 2
  • Xbox Series X owners will get a post-launch upgrade

The yearly NASCAR release from Motorsport Games has finally been revealed after a bit of teasing in recent times and it's a massive step forward for fans of America's stock car series. The Heat series of old has gone away and has been replaced by an all-new franchise, beginning with NASCAR 21 Ignition.

"Motorsport Games is thrilled to offer our most true-to-life simulation of NASCAR to date with NASCAR 21: Ignition," said Dmitry Kozko, CEO of Motorsport Games. "We've designed this game with our fans and players in mind, bringing them features, modes and options they have long clamored for. NASCAR 21: Ignition captures the atmosphere, pageantry and fierce competition of the NASCAR Cup Series, while offering authenticity, competition and accessibility through the game's core foundations."

The biggest news is under the hood. Motorsport Games recently acquired the makers of rFactor 2, and the physics from the PC sim have been included in NASCAR 21 Ignition. It will be interesting to see how well this translates over to controller play, but wheel racers are going to have a much better time. NASCAR Heat was a lot of fun and didn't have bad physics, but it was no sim, either. The idea of an official NASCAR game with realistic feeling handling is mouthwatering.

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NASCAR 21 Ignition will be the most realistic entry yet away from the racing, too. All the official tracks, cars, and drivers are back, with the drivers being digitally scanned with additional detail promised for pit road and the grandstands, too. For a race day experience, the folks at MRN Radio are providing the in-game voiceovers with "broadcast quality" build-up and post-race replays promised.

Nascar 21 IgnitionSource: Motorsport Games

To pair with the outstanding-looking visuals, NASCAR 21 Ignition will boast a stellar soundtrack including music from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Imagine Dragons and Luke Combs to name a few. The paint booth has also been upgraded for this year's new game with more customization possibilities than ever before. And if all that isn't enough, online multiplayer for up to 40 players is included, and you would expect there to be a competitive scene moving to Ignition from Heat as well.

Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 owners will also get enhanced versions of the game to play for free, though these will be released after launch. It looks as though the cosmetic-based season pass from the Heat series will return, bringing a host of different liveries throughout the life of the game and other "free upgrades" for owners of any version of the game.

Nascar 21 IgnitionSource: Motorsport Games

So, when can we get it? Both the standard and Champions editions of the game launch on October 28 2021, but if you digitally pre-order the game you can get access two days early. Pre-orders begin on August 12 on Xbox, PlayStation and Steam. The Champions Edition does have some extra razzle-dazzle though to make it worth your while. Arriving close to Forza Horizon 5 means racing fans are going to have a killer end to the year.

Players who purchase the Champions Edition will also receive exclusive availability to unlock Bill Elliott as a playable character, his paint schemes, in-game career boost and the season pass, which will include all three DLC packs. The season pass will release additional paint schemes and three other NASCAR legend drivers.

We're promised more information in the run-up to launch, but already I'm really excited for this. I love the NASCAR Heat series, but it's never been a serious sim that could take on the likes of iRacing. Whether the rFactor physics engine is as good as that is a debate for another arena, but it will make a noticeable change to the official NASCAR games going forward. I did also ask Motorsport Games if the Next Gen car, launching in 2022, would be coming to Ignition, but they have nothing to share at this time.