Formula E: High Voltage puts a strategic twist on racing games, elevating the genre’s competitive nature with play-to-earn functionality. It’s a fun browser-based game with a unique vibe, though the lack of in-game direction and tutorials may slow your roll as you get started.
You might be familiar with Formula 1 with stars like Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, but Formula E is the eco-friendly spin on the sport, opting for electric batteries rather than 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engines.
In the first-ever Formula E game, you’re not placed inside the cockpit but rather promoted into a managerial role. You must ensure your two drivers manage their battery usage perfectly in order to climb the standings, all in an effort to earn tokens.
A false start
Upon launching the game for the first time, I was surprised by the graphical style. When you normally think of racing games, you might imagine ultra-realistic graphics with shiny cars and wet race courses. This is not what Formula E: High Voltage gives you.
Instead, Animoca’s game opts for a more stripped-down arcade graphical style in order to allow for the game to be played in-browser. This makes the game feel more casual than play-to-earn games typically are in reality. That said, it does mean there is a lower barrier for gamers to give the game a spin.
Something I was equally surprised about was the lack of direction or tutorial when first opening the game. It wasn’t clear that I had to click “connect wallet” to reveal the “play” button. Then once I bumbled my way through to the practice mode against bots, I was trying to use the WASD keys to move my racers—but this is not how you play.
Rather, each of your drivers has three race modes which you must cycle through with an energy bar to control and regenerate when needed. There’s also an “attack” mode that will give you a boost if executed correctly. Your cars also have abilities triggered by in-game events, such as overtaking an opponent. None of this was explained in-game.
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In order to clear the fog, I had to head over to the game’s Discord server before being pushed over to a series of Medium articles and a YouTube video. After this, I felt better-equipped, but why was I sent on a wild goose chase just to understand the basics of the game?
Moreover, at the bottom of the home screen, there are three tabs that say “soon-to-come,” further adding to the feeling that the game isn’t fully polished yet—despite being branded as a launched game.
To start, you’re given two random drivers and cars. I worried that these drivers were going to be underpowered when I entered the online arena, but this wasn’t the case; I was evenly matched.
If you’re unhappy with what you’re given, you can purchase a solo crate for $30, which contains one random car or driver. Alternatively you can buy a team crate for $149, which contains two cars and two drivers. Your drivers and cars are NFTs stored on the Flow blockchain.
The NFTs can also be traded on secondary marketplaces, although there doesn’t appear to be a lot of demand thus far. DappRadar shows about $182 worth of trading volume over the past week, as of this writing.
There’s no cost if you want to give the game a first spin. Either connect your wallet or create one with an email address, and you’re in. You can practice on courses alone or against bots.
However, if you want to play online and stand a chance of earning tokens, you must purchase some REVV tokens—the token of REVV Motorsport, the play-and-earn ecosystem this game is a part of. Once you have these tokens, you can pay 25 REVV (almost $0.20 worth as of this writing) to enter a “battle,” which are time trial mini-leagues.
In a battle, you enter a race against 20 bots and are given points based on where you finish, as well as bonus points for finishing pole position in qualification (which you have no control over) or achieving the fastest lap in the race.
You are then measured against the other racers in your battle league with the REVV token pool being distributed to the top six players in the league—with 40% of the haul to first place. The token pool is made up of the REVV tokens used to enter the league, meaning the bigger the league, the bigger the prize pool.
This play-to-earn element really adds a competitive layer to the game, making every race count. Luckily, you can re-enter a race with no extra cost in order to get the highest score possible.
With the game being in its infancy, there doesn’t appear to be a competitive meta—or a dominant strategy. Talking to people on the Discord, no one really knows the best time to shift driving styles, or when to enter “attack” mode. As a result, when you’re competing in battle leagues, you’re forced to experiment with new strategies—and this was really fun.
I tried driving with more nuance when in big groups and driving aggressively into corners. I also experimented with using the boost from a successful attack on straights as opposed to corners. And to be honest, I still don’t have the answers on which is better.
Annoyingly, to switch driving styles for each driver, you must go to opposite sides of the screen. This meant that sometimes I missed timing an attack mode, resulting in dropping a few places. To resolve this issue, I’d propose allowing for keybinds rather than relying on your users to frantically move from left to right like they’re watching a tennis match.
Formula E: High Voltage has the bones of a fun game that raises the stakes with a play-to-earn approach. I love the unique spin on driving games, shifting it to the strategy genre. It’s so much fun to experiment with the racing styles and figure out what works best.
But it’s hard to ignore how unfinished the game feels. The lack of tutorial and direction when first starting the game is likely to alienate a lot of the player base. If and when this glaring hole in the game is resolved, I believe that Formula E: High Voltage will be a really great game.