The WRC championship is the most challenging motor racing competition in the world. With the new dynamic weather system, climatic conditions have true to life effects. Rain and snowfall is now an important game feature as variable traction, different setups for each stage, tyre choice and shrewd use of the weather forecasting team all need to be considered.
The single player career mode has been rebuilt from the ground up. Calendar management, R&D to improve performance, staff recruitment and management (mechanics, engineers, medical and weather teams, finance manager, etc.).
For multiplayer, weekly challenges and WRC eSports return, but the challenge and competition is now even stiffer. With 50 teams, 14 rallies and over 100 special stages in the 2019 season, WRC 8 has the deepest content ever included in an off road racing game.
I have to say that all of that is quite an accurate assessment of the game that KT Racing and Bigben Interactive have brought to us. The game is definitely deep with content so let’s start there. Starting at the Home screen you can easily continue your last played activity, check out your drivercard where you’ll find all of your stats, check out the latest news from the game, or take part in one of the weekly challenges.The next page takes you to all the single player modes.
Test area let’s you drive freely to improve your skills and adjust your car’s setup in real time, Training will put you through the paces on a closed track, and Quick Play will allow you to set up a quick race on any track or stage with any car or weather conditions. The real meat of the game can be found here as well with Season and Career modes. In Season mode you can take part in all of the rallies without having to micro manage everything. Just get in your car and drive.
Career mode is insanely deep. You have to manage everything from your sponsors to car performance. And let’s not forget recruitment and management of your entire crew team, and finances. On the Competition page is where you’ll find various multiplayer modes such as split screen or online multiplayer as well as the eSports events and the weekly challenges. You can also check out the leaderboards from here as well.
Yes indeed. Lots of content to be had here. Visit 14 different countries, each with a hefty number of stages to choose from for a whopping 100+ track configurations. Races can be run at any time of day or night. Realistic weather conditions are also impressive and can cause some problems if you aren’t prepared for them.
How does it handle? Well I have to admit that while I’ve played a few WRC titles before, I’ve never really given any of them a serious look. Rally was never really my thing as I preferred a closed circuit with other cars on the track. But because I’m writing this review I wanted to really give it a good go. So what I’ve discovered is that Rally racing is quite a different animal. It’s more about your machine against both the course and the clock. And these courses are brutal and unforgiving. It was a bit of an adjustment to get used to the physics and handling. I’ve played the game with both a controller and a racing wheel, and what I found was the controller was easier at first. I initially had a hard time with the wheel. But as I played more with each, I improved much faster with the wheel while my controller skills just kind of plateaued.
Now this is all with the default settings for each. The narrow one lane roads really require some precision driving and while it may be tempting to go all out and put the pedal to the floor, that strategy will likely produce slower times than taking it easy. Finding the right balance will take some time. An arcade style racer this is not, so for casual racers WRC 8 may cause quite a bit of frustration. If you stick with it you’ll eventually come to grips with the handling but that may take some severe determination. I anticipate spending a lot of time in Career mode, working my way through the ranks and hopefully improving my skillset along the way.
Visually, I find the game to be a mixed bag. There are some things I find to be quite beautiful and others that are a bit off putting. Ironically, when two things should go hand in hand and it doesn’t it certainly causes me to raise an eyebrow. For instance, I find that the game has some really beautiful lighting effects. The shadows? Not so much. Seeing the rays of sunlight as they stream through the trees is absolutely gorgeous but the shadows on the ground don’t move fluidly and just kind of tick along like the second hand on a clock. Tick …tock…. tick… tock. The background environments are beautiful. But some textures seem to be repeated a lot. I know that may actually not be the case but that’s how it appears to me. I like how the windshield gets dusty over time impeding your view and how as the sun goes down the failing light will require you to switch on your lights. Actually I really like the fact that you can control the lights, and the windshield wipers. It’s not just automatically turned on in bad weather or night time conditions.
The audio is quite good from a surround sound point of view. You can actually hear when each wheel starts to slip or the rattle of loose gravel when transitioning onto asphalt from the dirt. I’m really not that into the mechanics of cars so can’t comment on the accuracy of the engine noise but it revs when I hit the gas and that’s good enough for me. I’m not a fan of the co-pilot reading off notes though. Mostly because I don’t really know the rally terminology, but also because it sounds very stiff and robotic.
WRC 8 is super challenging even if you’re an experienced driver. I recommend taking your time to learn the courses. It will lower your frustration levels and add to the overall replay value of the game. Again this is definitely going to be difficult for the casual racer but well worth the effort to “git gud”. Wheel users will get the most out of this game as the normal controller just does an ok job.
Rally racing isn’t really my strong suit when it comes to racing games but the difficulty of the courses along with the enjoyable audio experience will keep pulling me back in. Enough for me to even go back to previous titles and really give them another chance.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
ameplay 9.5Visuals 7.5Audio 8Longevity 9