Unfortunately for fans of car simulators, rally games are released quite infrequently, and if they do appear, it is only within the framework of already well-known series. Now there is good news: EA SPORTS WRC has recently been released from the Codemasters studio, known for the Colin McRae Rally series (DIRT, Dirt Rally 2.0). The new game has already gained both an army of fans and people who are indignant at the topic of changing the engine from EGO Engine to Unreal Engine 5, since the transition entailed some problems. But let’s talk about everything in order.
Let’s start the story with the gameplay itself, namely modes, new game features, and so on.
Those who like to ride in the quarry – rejoice! Here it turned out to be good: a detailed calendar with races and other activities, hiring staff, purchasing cars from different rally series and, most importantly, mechanical engineering. The latter, by the way, is available not only in a career, but more on that later. Before playing, you can choose the difficulty of the game, which includes the presence or absence of various control assistants and bot skills. You will see the latter only on the leaderboard. If your driving skills are so-so, but you want to see yourself in the top three, then choose a simpler difficulty. Also, as you progress, you will be tested on a considerable number of special stages of varying difficulty, which are a pleasure to complete.
EA SPORTS WRC provides the opportunity to complete rally school. The most interesting thing is that, according to the authors, the lessons were formed together with real rally pilots, but there is a feeling that the distribution of their order was handled by someone far from sim racing. The first lessons are devoted to passing plus or minus difficult sections, accompanied by instructions for an effective race. What’s next? After several such lessons, you are offered to learn how to drive 100 meters in a straight line at a certain speed and brake at a certain point (forgive the tautology). Seriously? But the player has already worked out everything in previous tasks on more difficult sections of the route. After this moment there was no more resentment. Next, you will find an adequate distribution of the course by difficulty. By the way, each lesson is divided into three: rides on gravel, asphalt and snow.
If you are a serious pilot, then you can immediately move on to online competitions or single races on truly amazing special stages, of which there are much more than in the beloved Dirt Rally 2.0. Regarding online races, at release the game had problems due to which users experienced a kind of burning sensation below the waist due to incessant stutters. The situation is much better now, but still not ideal. Nevertheless, the developers continue to roll out patches with fixes, so we won’t have to wait long for improvements.
I would really like to tell you a lot of details about rallycross, but it’s not here at all. It is not entirely clear why the decision was made to remove the entire mode from the game: either because of low popularity among players or for some other reasons unknown to us. But, unfortunately, we have what we have.
Cars are doing well. Below is a screenshot of the classes (not all of them fit in) that are available in EA SPORTS WRC, and their number is impressive. Starting from the oldest and low-power ones to modern cars with hybrid engines – here you will find everything.
The main innovation from Codemasters is the ability to build your own car. A huge number of settings are available to you, ranging from the engine and wheels, ending with different parts of the body and other design solutions. This is a really interesting construction kit, especially if you have a good eye for detail.
Graphics and physics
The gameplay section turned out to be quite large and mostly positive, but now the situation is changing a little. Rally fans, do you remember what Dirt Rally 2.0 looked like? To this day, the game has excellent graphics, which can easily compete in beauty with EA SPORTS WRC. Today’s client of ours has noticeably deteriorated lighting and the effects of rain and snow. On the other hand, we got a good filling of special stages with visual details, such as trees, bushes, grass, and so on. Indeed, the locations have become more saturated, but at high speed you are unlikely to notice it. But strange pieces of white substance instead of snow can be seen with the naked eye.
This is Codemasters’ first experience with UE5, so it is likely that we will see graphics patches in the future that fix the above-mentioned problems. To be fair, this is more of a nitpick than a serious problem, and doesn’t interfere with gameplay in any way.
Speaking about the physics and behavior of the car on the road, here EA SPORTS WRC almost completely repeats the already mentioned Dirt Rally 2.0. For most players, this moment will be very pleasant, because many highly praised the second not only for the graphics, but also for the behavior of the car.
It just so happened that our review followed the following principle: “I started for health, and ended for peace!” At the start, optimization was, to put it mildly, so-so, as users repeatedly noted in their reviews. After the release of several patches, the situation, although not radically, has changed for the better: now you will not fly off a cliff due to a prolonged freeze during a turn. There are still problems, but again, they are being fixed.
As mentioned earlier, the developers made the transition from the EGO Engine to the rather complex Unreal Engine 5, opening up many opportunities for themselves in the further development of the project. Therefore, they encounter problems, which, fortunately for the players, are corrected quickly. At the time of writing this review, drawdowns are extremely rare, but not completely excluded.
Like Dirt Rally 2.0, the game supports a huge list of devices. The best part is that it supports multiple devices at the same time. What does it mean? You can connect the steering base, gearbox, handbrake and pedals from different manufacturers via USB, and the game will not complain that these are different devices.
We rode the recently released PXN V12 Lite with a gearbox from ZShifter (by the way, we have reviews of these devices on our portal) and the experience was amazing. Feedback in the game is easy to set up, it is informative and clear. In general, taking turns on gravel, asphalt or snow is a pleasure, and certainly cannot be compared with a keyboard mouse or gamepad.
To summarize, we can say that EA SPORTS WRC turned out to be a good rally simulator. As you understand, there were some problems, but most of them were left behind thanks to patches. At the moment, there is no Russian language in WRC, and the game is not available for purchase in Russian stores, although the Steam page is not blocked. However, there are rumors that the developers are planning to add localization, including for navigators.