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WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship review

Has Dirt Rally finally got some competition?

WRC 8
Credit: KT Racing

For many years now the WRC series of games have been lagging behind Dirt Rally in terms of popularity and general opinion. Can WRC 8 be the game to shrink the gap between the two rivals? In a nutshell yes, WRC 8 makes the most of official licencing, great handling and challenging gameplay.

WRC 8 is definitely taking a more serious approach than previous outings and is aiming for realism over accessibility. For someone like myself who knows nothing about rallying and the engineering behind it, WRC 8 can have a quite a steep learning curve.

View the WRC 8 launch trailer below:

I decided to play the career mode at first as I felt this would give me the broadest experience possible. Things begin in your virtual garage where you can hire and fire team members, set up your cars and upgrade your racing team to name but a few options. I found these screens were not laid out in the most intuitive way and would have benefited from more tooltips to help guide less seasoned drivers such as myself. I did eventually figure out most things through trial and error but I would have welcomed some more hand-holding, at least to start with.

To hammer this point home, I had started a race to find my car completely unresponsive and I was constantly falling off cliffs, in the snow at night! This was purely because I hadn’t noticed every single light on my dash was blinking an angry red. Everything was broken as I hadn’t realised I needed to assign a mechanic to the task as repairs aren’t taken care of automatically. Obvious in hindsight but not at the time.

WRC 8

Credit: KT Racing

As you progress through the career mode you earn XP which can be spent on levelling up your team, making your car better or more reliable and increasing your chances of getting better-paying contracts. Given that I came last, if I even finished at all, the reputation of my team wasn’t exactly high and morale was pretty low in my garage!

Now on the driving itself. Thankfully in this most important of areas, WRC 8 really shines. The handling model is excellent and even using a gamepad it feels responsive and pant-wettingly exciting at the same time. The steering feels precise and once you get the hang of using the handbrake and entering corners sideways you’ll be shouting at your screen in glee as the back end of your car is mere inches from slipping off a hundred-foot drop while you take a corner at 100mph. I didn’t get to try WRC 8 using a steering wheel but I can only imagine this would heighten the experience even more.

WRC 8

Credit: KT Racing

The rally stages themselves are also challenging and varied. You get to drive in lots of different dynamic weather conditions and around lots of pretty environments. There are also night rallies which add a whole other dimension of difficulty. Whilst the backgrounds are pretty they aren’t fantastic but let’s be honest, you’re going to spend most of your time looking at the car and the track. The cars themselves are very detailed and the damage model really makes your car look like it’s had a battering (especially with me behind the wheel)

Other game modes in WRC 8 include another career mode without all of the team management, a free drive mode where you can practice with any car/course combination and multiplayer options where you race against other player ghosts on the same course. Sadly during my playthrough, I couldn’t find a single lobby for multiplayer so I can’t really comment on that aspect of the game.

To see the game in action, check out our video below:

I really enjoyed playing WRC 8 and I’m not really into driving games, mainly because I’m crap at them. I was especially crap at WRC 8 but despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of my failure. The game is definitely challenging and if you’re looking for a more arcadey driving title this definitely isn’t for you. If, however, you want an authentic driving experience and are willing to put the time and effort into mastering rally driving you should 100% give WRC 8 a chance.

WRC 8 was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.

Publisher: BigBen Interactive Developer: Kylotonn Release Date: 5th September 2019 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also Available On: PS4, PC

WRC 8 is available to buy at Amazon UK on PS4, Xbox One , Nintendo Switch (from 14th November) and  PC.

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