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Game review: DCL – The Game (PC)

17 Mar 2020

DCL – The Game attempts to bring the world of competitive drone racing to the masses. It’s the official videogame of the Drone Champions League.

Drone racing is an exciting sport that is taking off all over the world. Pilots don VR-style headsets to view their drone’s movements as if they were sitting on board. The result is precision control around challenging courses full of obstacles and other racing drones.

As a licenced drone pilot, I can tell you that there is nothing, apart from being behind the yolk of a real aeroplane that feels quite as exhilarating as controlling one of these tiny aircraft.

Competitive racing drones are, however, usually homemade or kit-built, without the safety features of consumer drones. This makes them faster and a lot more manoeuvrable. Playing DCL, it would seem - in spite of my consumer and commercial drone experience - I’d make a very poor drone racing pilot.

The game comes with three types of drone, which are, basically lightweight (slow), medium and heavy (fast). There’s a load of visual customisation options such as different liveries and light trails, which are purchased using money earned in-game.

There are a number of different courses to race in, each with their own challenges. For the most part, they are interesting locations with a few dynamic bits of scenery to add to the realism. Whilst it’s not the nicest-looking game on the planet, there’s a lot going on under the hood.   

The game can be played using arcade controls that take care of altitude, leaving players to enjoy DCL as a pure aerial racing game. The game does, however, offer many options that turn it into a proper drone racing training simulator. 

Not only does the game allow for basic arcade controls, but you can also enable GPS (the way most consumer drones work) and set the control scheme to your choice of modes 1-4. The game also supports Acro mode for total control of the drone. Pro pilots can even connect and use their real radio transmitters to control the drones. Players wanting to go all the way can even tune the drone and the transmitter to maximise performance. 

Players can race using an arcade third-person view or a more realistic first-person view. Of course, actual drone racing pilots view the world through a VR headset and the game’s first-person view does a good job of emulating this. 

The game is intended to be played competitively via scheduled online tournaments, with the potential to enter into global esports events and reach the live finals held in the UK. The game can also be played single-player. 

The different circuits are unlocked with points awarded if you successfully complete the course within the time limits. The single-player races are time attacks raced alongside ghost drones from others in your selected region. You can see what control method they are using and see how you fare against them.

DCL – The Game is an interesting package. It’s certainly a niche game. I’m not sure that it really lends itself to casual play unless you are a devoted follower of drone racing. I can, however, see it as great training aid if you are into actually racing drones and use your transmitter with the game.

If you are interested in drone racing, this is certainly worth a look. If not, I’d seek out your thrills elsewhere.

Verdict: 6/10