Fans of the WRC franchise know that the series has been in need of improvement for quite some time now. The last few entries haven’t been bad games but rather just OK games with a lot of parts in need of some tune ups. The latest entry, WRC 8: FIA World Rally Championship, is out now and I can confirm that this is the improved model you’ve been waiting for.
The career mode in this game has seen a ton of improvement from past entries. It’s also accessible to both those who are familiar to rally racing and to those who are new thanks to the difficulty options. I reviewed Dirt Rally 2.0 earlier this year and while that is a great game it can also be quite intimidating to those who don’t know what rally racing is all about. The difficulty options here make this a far more appealing package to those unfamiliar racers. Once you decide on your difficulty you’ll pick your name and nation and then pick which WRC grouping you want to start out in. Once you do that it’s off to both racing and managing your team.
Managing your team involves things like recruiting crew members, upgrading things in R&D and more. As you play you’ll earn morale that can used on your crew while experience that you earn can be spent upgrading the skill tree in R&D. You’ll also spend time penciling events into your schedule and making sure you have the proper crew members assigned to handle them. Your crew can get tired so it’s important to keep an eye on them and make sure they get rest while having others take over while they do. That skill tree I spoke of also is important for your crew as you can unlock new perks that provide benefits. All of the management stuff never bothered me but rather helped break up the just usual racing elements of these games. It really does a good job of putting you in control of everything and letting you decide how things play out.
When you’re not managing your team you’ll of course be racing and the game feels great in this area too. The game is full of real-life locations in countries like Turkey, Wales, Chile and more with 14 locations in total and 100 courses. The instructions from your co-driver are on point and it really nails that feeling of actual rally racing just as well as something like Dirt Rally does. Of course this game doesn’t have a rewind system in place so if you make a mistake and crash you’ll have to live with it. Playing with the controller felt good and responsive to me but I imagine a wheel would work better much like any racing game. The game has a OK amount of cars but the roster could’ve been bigger and is also kind of limited in variety. If you’re someone who wants to drive a Subaru for instance you won’t find it here.
Now if you are someone who just wishes they could stick to the racing parts of the career mode and not have to indulge in the management portions than you’ll be happy to know that Seasons mode lets you do just that. This is a mode that is all about the events so give it a whirl if the management life isn’t for you. Outside of those two modes you have the online options along with training, weekly events and single events. The game also supports split-screen play which is awesome as you don’t find many racing games anymore with this option included. Online leaderboards are also present and you can download other player’s ghosts to either study or race against.
The visuals in WRC 8 are another area which saw a nice upgrade compared to past entries. All of the tracks look far better than entries in the past and the weather effects in the game play a big part in that too. Both things like the rain and snow look great as your racing along and of course they affect the track and your handling. Night time racing is exhilarating as well. All of the car models in the game are also full of detail just like you would expect out of this series. Even more important is that the game has a very stable frame rate so everything feels as responsive as it should. Load times when transitioning between different parts of the game were also pretty fast. WRC 8 also delivers soundly in the audio department as everything from the sound of the car’s engine to the windshield wiper blades clearing rain out of your sight sounds good. The last thing I’ll touch on is the trophy list on PS4 which consists of 44 trophies. Most of the list can be finished by just playing long enough and by finishing enough events and driving a certain distance. One trophy right now still hasn’t been earned so it could be glitched.
WRC 8 is the perfect entry for both longtime players and for those who maybe have skipped the past one or so. The series has never been better with this latest entry receiving major improvements both in the career mode and in the visuals. More can be done to improve the car selection and a rewind function would be nice to make this a bit more approachable. Everything else in the game is great though and makes this a must for any rally racing fan.
*WRC 8: FIA World Rally Championship is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC and is coming soon to Nintendo Switch. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.