I’m guessing it must have been significantly improved since launch (reminiscent of DriveClub), because I just bought the full edition the other day, and I don’t really see any of the issues I saw people complaining about during the reviews… Well, outside of the AI impossibly rubber-banding when you’re dominating the race, but what else is new; that’s in most arcade style (or cart) racing games.
The handling is a little wonky when you first start, but once you buy a proper car and get a couple of upgrades in it, it plays great. Also looks fantastic (not Forza/DriveClub levels, but damn fine regardless), and has a metric ton of things to do/see.
As far as it starting you off in a limited area… I mean, it’s an RPG… It’s quests are limited to what you’re capable of competing in. It just so happens that they spread those out over the map rather than by level/time, so as you get more car types available, you progress outward and the other regions start offering more “Main quest line” activities. That said, you can travel the entire map at any rate you like, and there is still plenty to do in the regions without main story-line races… There’s challenges, hidden items to find, multiplayer events, etc…
I dunno, maybe it’s because I’m a Camaro junkie, and someone on this dev team is obviously as well, but I’m having a blast with it. Easily the most fun driving game I’ve played on Ps4, outside of DriveClub.