When I sat down to play Stampede: Racing Royale at Summer Game Fest, it hadn’t even been announced yet. I didn’t have a chance to build any of my own opinions—good or bad—before I had hands-on time with it. If I’m honest, I probably would have dismissed it pretty easily, as I find racing games come a dime a dozen. After playing it, however, I’ve definitely learned not to judge a book by its cover.
I want to say this loud and clear, Stampede: Racing Royale will be popular. Kids will love it. Families will love it. It will be all over Twitch or YouTube, or wherever you watch your favourite streamers. It’s like Mario Kart and Fall Guys had a baby, taking some of the best parts of each game and combining them into a quick-paced, competitive pile of chaos.
Before I dive into what makes me so sure that Stampede: Racing Royale will be a hit, I want to talk a little about the team behind it. Experience is great, but the passion behind the team at Sumo Leamington really came through while I chatted with the Development Director at Sumo Digital, Paul Hollywood.
“I want to say this loud and clear, Stampede: Racing Royale will be popular.”
While he walked me through Stampede: Racing Royale, Paul told me a bit about his own career and the team working on this title, “I’ve been in the industry for 33 years…I’ve made a lot of racing games, and my favourite type of racing game is a cart racing game. So, I’m super, super excited to be working on this. I’ve got an amazing team back at Sumo Leamington, over a hundred really, really talented developers. We’ve been working on this for nearly two years now.”
“Racing games are in Sumo’s blood,” Hollywood said, and he wasn’t kidding. Going through Sumo Digital’s site, the company has worked on countless racing titles, from franchises like Forza Horizon and Forza Motorsport, Outrun, Team Sonic Racing, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing and more. Stampede: Racing Royale is a brand-new entry for the team, and right now, they look to be doing everything right.
“We are free to play, but we do not want any of our players to be at a disadvantage because they didn’t spend enough money. So all the ways to monetize are cosmetic. It’s all about mastery of the game. That’s how you progress,” said Hollywood. As a gamer, this is incredibly important to me. Pay-to-win has become an awful way to gatekeep games, and Stampede: Racing Royale looks to have a promising future in family households, so I’m happy to see that they aren’t alienating half of their possible audience.
He also mentioned that there would be ways to unlock currency while you play Stampede: Racing Royale, so players will still be able to purchase cosmetic items even if you don’t want to put actual money into the game. But what do these look like? You can find custom paint and stickers for your cart. For instance, we saw bright pinks, gold and flames but then decided to throw some watermelons on as wheels.
“More cosmetics will release regularly, so there will always be things to work toward as well. These are some of the things that will definitely make Stampede: Racing Royale go viral.”
You can also dress your character in some pretty crazy ways! You can choose different helmets and outfits, and for some reason, there was cheese on top of my head because why not? Although the build I played came fully stacked, it looks like the combinations will be endless. More cosmetics will release regularly, so there will always be things to work toward as well. These are some of the things that will definitely make Stampede: Racing Royale go viral.
In Stampede: Racing Royale choosing your cart is similar to other cart racers, having to weigh the different variables like tires, speed, etc. I was assured that there would not be one car to rule them all, so it looks like what you choose to master will be based on your playstyle.
I was able to play a bit of Stampede: Racing Royale’s Race Royale mode and the Battle Arena. Race Royale is exactly what it sounds like. For Race Royale, after you’re all geared up, you’ll be piled into groups to begin your race. These start at 60 players, then the second round is the top 40, and the final round is 20. The sheer scale of these races makes for complete mayhem, and it brings excitement to a whole new level.
Sumo considered the players’ skill levels while developing Stampede: Racing Royale, “We want this game to be very accessible, but also, as you get into the elder game, it becomes more skill-based. So we will serve up harder challenges, and also, even if you’ve been playing it for thirty, sixty, or a hundred twenty days, you will always be challenged, and you’ll always get a really good, joyous experience.”
Ripping around the track was a lot of fun—I really need to work on my drift skills. There are speed, offence or defence power-ups. Regarding power-up distribution, I was told that “the race management system will serve up the right power-up depending on where they are in the race.” Whether or not this means boosts for everyone at the back and something less exciting for the players at the front is unclear. There are also slipstreams and nitro to get you to the front of the pack
“It is very clear from the second you jump into Stampede: Racing Royale that it is being made for mass appeal…”
Battle Arena mode was interesting to me. Part of me wanted it to be a demolition derby-style mode, but instead, it is based on a point system. There were also life-based and last-player standing modes. Here Paul gave me a quick tip. We changed cars because I was no longer racing. My car was now a bit slower, but I could turn on a dime to battle it out.
It is very clear from the second you jump into Stampede: Racing Royale that it is being made for mass appeal and that the team behind it is hoping that it gets picked up by streamers the way Fall Guys did. Games as a Service is the way of the future, whether we like it or not, and these free-to-play games are great for little hits of dopamine, meaning they are great for viewers on streaming sites and great for players to jump in and out of as they please.
What we often don’t think about, though, is that they are great for building a community. It is far easier to get players when the game doesn’t cost anything to begin with. But clearly, games like Fortnite and Overwatch are doing just fine without a base cost to dive in. Stampede: Racing Royale is coming to PC via Steam Early Access in 2023, with Steam Playtests taking place this Summer for player feedback. The game will also be released for consoles.
Stampede: Racing Royale is going to be good clean, fun for families, and an easy title to jump into for adults. I can guarantee this is something you will see all over Kick, Twitch and YouTube too. I don’t see any world where it doesn’t succeed unless they choose to add pay-to-win features in the future.