I may have mentioned this once or twice, but I am a mildly obsessive TrackMania fan, and a new installment is always an exciting prospect for me.
If, however, you're not me, you may not know what TrackMania is. In simple terms, it's the spiritual successor to ridiculous racing games such as Stunt Car Racer and Hard Drivin'; in more complex terms, it's an easy-to-pick-up, hard-to-master esports-friendly racer with some of the best, most intuitive yet powerful built-in modding tools of any game ever.
When TrackMania 2 Canyon came out, it was slightly disappointing to hear that Ubisoft and Nadeo were planning to release each "environment" as a standalone game when previous games in the series -- TrackMania 2 Canyon is actually the fifth installment on PC, not counting console and handheld spinoffs -- included multiple environments. After playing Canyon for a while, though, it became immediately apparent that each of these new environments was being lavished with a huge amount of care, attention and detail, so the blow was softened somewhat. The fact that each standalone TrackMania 2 environment was to be sold for considerably less than the price of a new triple-A game certainly didn't hurt, either.
The rally-themed Valley was intended to be the second release in the TrackMania 2 series, but it was preceded by Stadium, a remake of the popular, flexible environment from previous games. Development on Valley had been somewhat quiet for a while, which had been a little concerning, but a couple of days ago Ubisoft and Nadeo announced that Valley would be making its grand entrance. Now it's here.
TrackMania has always been mod-friendly, with much of the appeal coming from the custom-designed tracks, cars and game modes made by other users. However, to date it's been its own independent platform, and installing custom content could be a somewhat cumbersome experience if you didn't know what you were doing. No longer, however, since the release of Valley has brought an oft-requested and eminently sensible addition to the TrackMania formula: Steam Workshop support. That means quick and easy access to mods, as well as community features to help you discover the best custom content out there without having to trawl through a variety of different websites. Steam Workshop support has also been retroactively added to the versions of TrackMania 2 Canyon and Stadium available on Valve's platform.
I'll see you on the circuit. I'll be the one crawling out of the battered wreckage of my upside-down vehicle.