How GRID Legends aims to put the fun back into the series

After what will be over a two-year hiatus since the 2019 reboot, Codemasters – and now EA’s – action-fuelled racing game franchise returns early next year with GRID Legends, and the emphasis is very much on accessible, explosive, driving fun. 

How GRID Legends aims to put the fun back into the series
Listen to this article

Your computer-controlled rivals jostle for position, succumb to pressure, become your Nemesis should you clash and suffer from mechanic maladies. There are up to 22 cars on the grid and the racing is hectic. 

To sit alongside this is a profusion of game modes and options, from a narrative-led campaign, called Driven to Glory, to a custom scenario spawning Race Creator, cross-platform online multiplayer and a traditional team-building career. There’s even a ‘Hop-in’ option, where friends can join your single-player race over the network and take over one of the AI competitors.


Codemasters has thrown the kitchen sink at this game, and it is keen to highlight facts such as the most routes ever to launch in a GRID game, over 130 vehicles from launch and more event types than I’ve had hot dinners. 

While that’s nice on paper, the main drawback in my opinion to the most recent entry in the franchise wasn’t the venues, the cars or your opponent’s brio. No, it was the vehicle behaviour. 

Ergo, the critical element to address with our brief hands-on time with GRID Legends isn’t the fripperies – although, they are clearly an important factor in the final release – but the core driving experience it’s all built upon. 

We were able to try out 12 pre-made races, covering vehicles such as the Aston Martin Valkyrie, AC Cobra and Super E electric single-seater on PC, with a controller and a wheel peripheral. 


My initial reaction was that the cars felt more planted, with a greater sense of weight and individuality between the wildly different types. Getting to grips with each is surprisingly challenging. 

A Stadium Super Truck, for example, leans heavily on its outside rear wheel when pitched into a turn, but has enough torsional rigidity to lift the inside front wheel simultaneously. The result is like trying to ride a three-legged cow, but after a few attempts, you start to develop a unique driving style to manage the behaviour. 

I never really felt like I needed to spend time learning handling characteristics in 2019’s GRID, and thankfully also gone is that game’s tendency to spin on street-circuit kerbs – something that was masked by driving assists but came to the fore once you started easing them off. 

Make no mistake, GRID Legends is not a serious game. You will not be tweaking camber angles. But a driving game still needs to make you feel connected, regardless of where it sits in the genre, and GRID Legends is a marked improvement.


The fact that every single car has multiple interior viewpoints to choose from and there’s support for sim racing wheels shows that the systems in place are robust. 

Creative Director at Codemasters and EA, Chris Smith explained that GRID Legends is a racing game “for everyone.” Usually, when you hear expressions like that, you may be thinking about accessibility for those who don’t race often, but he then went on to say, “this is a sim racer’s guilty pleasure”. 

You can play it with your full sim rig setup as a fun blast that just happens to work with your equipment. 

As for difficulty levels, AI consistency and damage levels, it’s too early to say. Likewise, we haven’t seen are tried the mixed-reality story that brings to life GRID regular Nathan McKane or the separate career that includes over 250 races. Crucially, that now also includes team management and car upgrades paths for additional depth. 

What I can say is that the all-new fictional race circuit Strada Alpina is enjoyable, with the Alps in the background, the engine notes are spot on and there’s this overall sense of occasion. As if this entire racing scene has been created to pulsate your senses and dilate your pupils.


On the flip side, while there are undoubtedly many circuits and when you included shorter, longer, reverse, drift, jump, electric boost and presumably upside-down variants the number of routes is ginormous. 

Alongside the mountainous new Italian venue, are new London and Moscow street circuits. While London looks resplendent at night and Moscow in the snow, a new weather condition, the latter‘s actual strip of asphalt is hard to distinguish from existing locations. There’s a litany of returning favourites, and for those new to the series, or returning after a hiatus, that’s great. But if like me you’ve played the last two, you’ve already driven thousands of laps around most of the attractions. 

This will be expanded upon with a year of post-release downloadable content, some free, some for ‘Deluxe’ players and including cars and tracks – much like the support for Codemasters recent release DIRT 5

Under the hood, there’s a lot of repurposing going on, and despite it coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X, you can tell visually that this has its roots within something from a prior generation or two ago. Unmistakably a game from this series. 


GRID Legends sets its stall out nice and early. The formerly TOCA, TOCA Race Driver and Race Driver: GRID lineage has now metamorphosised from a real-world aping title into a trilling explosion that focuses on pack racing and pyrotechnics. Yet, now, there is real depth to the way the cars drive and on paper, the event variety and progression systems sound like they add longevity. 

If Driven to Glory story is enthralling and the online modes incentivised appropriately, then GRID Legends has all the hallmarks of an adrenaline-pumping joyride. We’ll let you know if that comes to fruition in February 2022… 

GRID Legends is coming to PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on the 25th February 2022.

You can listen to the Traxion.GG interview with the game’s Creative Director, Chris Smith, and Associate Creative Director, Steven Brand below or via your favourite podcast service.

VCO ProSIM SERIES: Benecke and Lulham secure the title
Previous article

VCO ProSIM SERIES: Benecke and Lulham secure the title

Next article

Track guide for the Le Mans Virtual Series Sebring 500 race

Track guide for the Le Mans Virtual Series Sebring 500 race
How an unlikely tie-up won sim racing's biggest prize Prime

How an unlikely tie-up won sim racing's biggest prize

An unlikely partnership between World Endurance Championship LMP1 privateers Rebellion Racing and Williams Formula 1's highly-successful sim racing team yielded victory in the inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual. Here's how it triumphed in the biggest sim race ever staged

Jun 15, 2020
How seriously should Esports be taken? Prime

How seriously should Esports be taken?

As interest in Esports has increased during the coronavirus lockdown, the lines have become blurred between what's real and what's virtual - especially when some high-profile participants seem to be playing for laughs, says Luke Smith

Jun 10, 2020
Why Abt's deception left Audi with no choice Prime

Why Abt's deception left Audi with no choice

Daniel Abt's suspension by the Audi Formula E team - and possible loss of his drive - for fielding a ringer in an Esports event could be considered an overreaction. But in a wider context, his employers had little other alternative

May 26, 2020
How Leclerc is embracing his new mission Prime

How Leclerc is embracing his new mission

The emergence of Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc as a Twitch streaming star has been one of the pleasant surprises of lockdown so far. He says it is giving fans a greater insight into his nature, but that's not his primary purpose

Formula 1
Apr 23, 2020
Leclerc's Virtual GP annihilation deserves great credit Prime

Leclerc's Virtual GP annihilation deserves great credit

The introduction of Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi to Formula 1's Virtual GP last weekend meant it was a step above the franchise's debut two weeks ago. But a dominant performance from Esports newcomer Leclerc stole the show

Apr 6, 2020
How the hidden side of being fast has been exposed Prime

How the hidden side of being fast has been exposed

The lack of real track action so far this year hasn't stop drivers from keeping their racing brains 'fresh', as former F1 star Stoffel Vandoorne suggested last weekend.

Apr 2, 2020
Why entertainment isn't Esports greatest virtue right now Prime

Why entertainment isn't Esports greatest virtue right now

MotoGP's virtual #StayAtHomeGP was a sad reminder of some of the storylines that could be unfolding had the real-life season not been delayed indefinitely by the coronavirus pandemic. While we can bemoan Esports as being a poor relation of the real thing, it has an even more important function to perform

Mar 30, 2020
F1’s pantomime Virtual GP is fun but unsustainable Prime

F1’s pantomime Virtual GP is fun but unsustainable

F1 Esports' inaugural Virtual Grand Prix last weekend provided brilliant entertainment to those tuning in to watch a mix of F1 drivers and celebrities battle on track, but was a missed opportunity for marketing its own Esports stars. A change of approach is needed if it is to successfully fill the void until the resumption of proper racing

Mar 24, 2020