WRC 8 review - Team VVV

Reviews WRC 8 review

Reviews

Kevin Dooley

News Editor

Posted on

Game: WRC 8

Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, XBox One

Publisher: Bigben Interactive

Release Date: 05/09/2019 (Switch version in October)

After several entries from Evolution Studios and Milestone, the officially licensed World Rally Championship game reins were taken over by Kylotonn in 2015 with its debut title WRC 5.

Kylotonn improved the series dramatically with its follow up games WRC 6 and WRC 7 releasing in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The series then took a break in 2018 allowing the French team a two-year development cycle for the very first time. Will the extra time enable Kylotonn to truly realise their vision?

Rally rather good

Physics have seen improvements over WRC 7. All three car classes exhibit more depth than before giving you a very authentic driving experience. Granted, the title is more forgiving than DiRT Rally on gravel surfaces, however, an easy title to pick up and play this is not. Driving the various vehicle classes on a variety of surface types was a joy using a racing wheel. Once you’ve cranked up the force feedback’s road feel and self-aligning torque, the experience only gets better. The handbrake now works properly and features a fully analogue input.

The tyre and suspension model exhibit greater depth than ever before making the car respond in an intuitive manner: this makes playing WRC 8 a blast for the most part. However, there is still room for improvement, either way, this is a positive step in the right direction.

The game also handles well using a controller, though the WRC class is still a huge challenge and small alterations on tarmac can see over-sensitive movements on the car – great progress but could do with further refinement.

Collisions also need some attention. Bumps to the side of the road often send your car into the air as if it has a penchant for rolling onto its roof: this can lead to some very frustrating moments.

Car audio has been enhanced from earlier games in the series. Cars sound more menacing and closer to their real-world counterparts than ever before. The environmental sounds too are particularly decent making you feel the crash of driving through deep puddles, and the impact of pebbles assaulting the underside of the car. That said, there is still a lot of room for improvement if Kylotonn wants to rival its competitors.

Dream team

WRC 8 sees major changes to the career mode which has remained largely stagnant since Kylotonn’s WRC debut in 2015. The newly added crew management aspects will see you hire team members across six different job roles, selecting events to compete in between rallies, and you will dictate your team’s path of development through four skill trees, all while maintaining a good reputation across a range of manufacturers.

Assigning R & D points (earned by levelling up) across the skill trees enables you to unlock additional staff members and bonuses. Bonuses include more accurate weather forecasts, increased XP and cash rewards, grippier tyres, a more powerful turbo, and less wear and tear of car components amongst other things.

Besides competing in any of the 14 rallies on offer, the career mode also gives you a range of varied events to break things up nicely. Historic events allow you to get behind one of the title’s classic rally cars; Training events task you to beat the gold times on small custom made circuits; whereas Extreme Conditions events thrust you into a damaged car in severe weather conditions. Completing these events will net you cash, XP, or reputation points.

Elsewhere, you can take part in manufacturer tryouts which enable you to gain reputation with other teams. This is absolutely essential if you want to progress into the higher tiers, unfortunately, this is not stated clearly enough.

Of course, all these extra career mode elements won’t be for everyone. Thankfully, Kylotonn has included a “Season” mode which allows you to experience the game minus the team management components.

Environmental triumph

The environments in WRC 8 are undoubtedly the star of the show. Nearly all of the stages have been updated and a handful has been completely overhauled bringing their standard up dramatically. Sadly, this means there are some inconsistencies with Finland looking particularly dated. However, when you’re driving through the extremely impressive rocky hills of Argentina, winding through the gorgeous Monte Carlo mountains, or navigating through a gritty-looking UK stage, these inconsistencies are largely forgiven.

A once picturesque scene can change very quickly into a hazy, windy, and rain-soaked landscape where WRC 8 arguably looks at its best. Puddles have a great impact on your car when travelling at speed and are best avoided if possible. Unfortunately, the water splash effect leaves a lot to be desired and jarring lighting changes can happen as the weather is in transition.

Sadly, the console versions of WRC 8 still run at just 30 fps with some frame dips here and there. This is especially difficult to accept on the more powerful PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X machines. The challenge for Kylotonn will be to hit 60 fps across the consoles to bring their titles up to the vastly superior PC versions.

Impactful damage

The car damage in WRC 8 finally has a true impact on your car’s performance especially if you opt for the realistic setting.

When your car is sufficiently damaged you’ll hear the tyres flap, the gearbox crunch and whine, brakes will fade and your engine will struggle through its rev range. Damage the car too much and you’ll get a dreaded DNF for the stage but will be able to compete in the next stage with an impaired car.

Should you puncture a tyre, you will have the option to change it during a rally at a cost of 30 seconds. Of course, you may instead decide to limp across the finish line depending on where you are in the rally.

Regrettably, the cosmetic damage in WRC 8 is sorely lacking. A severely damaged car should be reflected with critically dented and deformed body panels, instead, you may lose your front bumper and exhibit minor signs of battling the elements.

Occasionally the co-driver will not mention a hazard which can ruin your rally. Indeed, several crashes could have been easily avoided if I was forewarned, also at times I found I was struggling to comprehend some of the calls barked at me: a new co-driver with improved pronunciation and clarity would be a useful addition.

The replay mode in WRC 8 is a little rough around the edges and still lags behind the competition. Texture detail can clearly be seen popping in once the viewpoint has switched, and you’ll come across the occasionally wonky camera and some other oddities.

The title’s general presentation has seen a radical overhaul. Although not genre-leading, Kylotonn has taken a definite step in the right direction here:  menus work better than ever before and aptly display the many aspects of this considerable package with confident clarity.

Besides the career mode and the stripped-down alternative known as “Season”, WRC 8 offers a host of modes to keep players coming back for more. Highlights include the Test Area, a limited area enabling you to skid your car around warehouses and bus garages as well as take on a rally route. Then there’s the Training mode complete with 25 small closed circuits to keep you busy.

WRC 8 also has support for online multiplayer and local split-screen modes, and those looking for some serious competition will spend time in the Weekly Challenges and Esports Challenge modes.

Featuring 100 special stages, dynamic weather, impactful damage, in-depth team management elements, as well as improved physics and audio, WRC 8 is the most complete rally game so far this generation and is a must-buy for any petrolhead.

There are a few rough edges though. Wonky collisions can lead to some infuriating moments, the co-driver can lack clarity and detail at times, the lighting transitions can be harsh, the replay mode needs an overhaul, and let’s not mention those awful water splash animations.

Our Review

8 /10

The good

  • 100 special stages
  • Intuitive physics
  • Impressively detailed environments
  • Improved career mode
  • Lots of variety

The bad

  • Wonky collisions
  • Unclear co-driver
  • Jarring weather transitions
  • Messy replay mode
  • 30fps on console.

 

Summary

Featuring 100 special stages, dynamic weather, impactful damage, in-depth team management elements, as well as improved physics and audio, WRC 8 is the most complete rally game so far this generation and is a must-buy for any petrolhead.

There are a few rough edges though. Wonky collisions can lead to some infuriating moments, the co-driver can lack clarity and detail at times, the lighting transitions can be harsh, and the replay mode needs an overhaul, and let’s not mention those awful water splash animations.

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