DCL The Game Review: Flying is harder than you think
Take to the skies and race your heart out in this challenging but rewarding drone racer.
It is incredibly easy to get hooked by a racing game.
The reward of quicker and quicker times is a direct result of your effort and engagement.
They also rarely hold too much of an initial barrier to entry. Assists like traction control together with variable AI difficulties mean that a complete newbie can pick up a racing game and have a good time.
But sometimes they throw something entirely new at you… Which is where DCL The Game comes in.
DCL – or Drone Champions League – is the official game of the world’s leading series for Drone Racing Teams. It claims you can “experience Drone Racing like a professional pilot”.
So, can you?
You can pick up DCL and race like any other game thanks to Arcade Mode. This “newbie” setting for the controls automatically adjust altitude for you and leaves you in control of the speed and direction.
There is still a little bit to get used to, as you steer with the left stick and strafe with the right, but it will only take a few tries to start to understand how it works.
You’ll be able to post some pretty competitive times here, but the real challenge, and speed, comes with Angle and Acro Modes.
These settings put you in near-total control, and will leave you scratching your head if you haven’t flown a drone before.
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Dealing with the pitch and yaw is tricky and will take time to learn.
In Angle Mode there is some stabilisation so you can’t totally wreck your drone, but you can come close!
Acro Mode is basically a full-on sim and only for those with experience or that have put a lot of hours into the game. There are some useful tutorials, although they navigate you out of the game and onto your web browser.
Time Attack is your basic game mode. Pick a course, complete it as quickly as you can. You’ll earn Props for each of the five times you beat, and you’ll have to earn a lot to unlock every track.
This is done with opponents too, so you aren’t the only one racing.
There are flight path guidelines and turning signals to show you where to go, as well as clear markers when you miss gates (which you will!).
In Arcade Mode this is a fun racer, and you can earn money to unlock new flight trails, badges, and of course drones to fly.
There is then Multiplayer Race Flow. This online mode pits you against other racers on a course. You can all fly in whatever Mode you want, so it keeps the player pool broad.
Unfortunately, unless you are comfortable in Acro Mode that’s it.
There’s no career mode of any sort of to sink your teeth into, and little in the way of solo challenges to help develop your skills.
Graphics and gameplay
DCL looks spectacular, and the speed feels electric when you get going. The courses are fun and challenging regardless of control setting.
The races get the heart pounding, and when you start to figure out the more complex controls there is definitely a strong sense of achievement.
However, the enjoyment gets capped by the lack of game modes.
If you want to become a pro drone pilot this is the perfect game. If you just want to have fun flying rather than driving it is somewhat lacking.
It is far more of the Assetto Corsa sim-style game than the F1 2019 accessible/arcade racer, and that will put some people off.
The ability to compete in ultra-realistic ways will certainly appeal to plenty of people. It’s also a good way to learn how to fly a drone if you want to go outside and do it yourself.
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However, as a racing game it can leave you wanting more. There is certainly a ton of potential for a sequel further down the line that contains a true career mode and a track creator as the base level of gameplay is strong and the surrounding world looks glorious.
Visually it is stunning, and the racing does engage you, but it requires practice, practice, and more practice to truly master this game and get the most out of it.
RealSport Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)