Taking a year off is always a risky move for an iterative series as they concede new sales to their competitors and stay out of the public eye. However, this additional development time is often necessary for a series to take the next step and up its gameplay quality. WRC 8 is an example of skipping a year paying off as French developer Kylotonn has come back with its best rally racing game yet. The game achieves this through its refined gameplay, new dynamic weather system that adds new challenges to driving through stages, and totally revamped career mode that celebrates the team aspect of the sport.
The official game of the World Rally Championship has always felt solid from a racing standpoint, but there was no denying that Codemasters’ Dirt series was a better playing alternative. While it probably still holds a slight edge from a gameplay standpoint, the gap has been considerably lessened to where the rest of the package has an increased importance. No matter which choice players make, they’ll receive a great playing rally game that offers up rewarding gameplay, but from a pure content standpoint WRC 8 blows it out of the water.
Unlike Dirt Rally 2.0, which came with a slim offering of six rallies place around the world and has supplemented them with several season passes of DLC, WRC 8 offers up 14 real-life rallies. From the iconic Neste Rally Finland to the Rally Guanajuato Mexico, players will get to race across the world. Getting to drive these courses is a real thrill for a racing fan, although this is far from the best looking racing game. What it does do well is take full advantage of its WRC license, as it features all of the top drivers such as Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tanak. Rounding out the package are a number of historical cars that can be used such as the Lancia Stratos, Proton Iriz R5, and Volkswagen Polo R WRC, giving it an impressive roster of vehicles.
WRC 8 Review | Weather that changes how you play
As mentioned above, one of the key selling points and reasons for the latest sequel to take an extra year of development is the new dynamic weather system that has been put in place. I first saw it in play while I was driving through Finland and I had to make a choice to either go through puddles, thus impacting my handling, or trying to avoid them by taking a suboptimal racing line. I chose the former, and it created a really risky driving environment as it was also raining. I had to go slightly slower around curves and drive more cautiously due to it.
Then something wonderful happened midway through the stage as the clouds cleared and it stopped raining. This left me with a much more manageable situation, and it’s these types of constantly changing races that the new system creates. It’s more than simply dealing with weather effects, which can change from rain to snow depending on the location.
The best way to experience all the different ways that the weather can impact your races is through the game’s lengthy career mode. Players can either start out by driving a Junior WRC car or attempt to qualify for the WRC 2 league if they are experienced enough. Either way, there’s a direct sense of progression as players try to make it to the world’s top class and drive 380hp cars.
WRC 8‘s career mode is more than just a series of races. It focuses on the team aspect of racing, which is fitting since rally racing involves co-drivers that call out turns and assist the player. Players have to hire a whole crew, ranging from engineers to a communication manager, that will support their team. Balancing your finances is important if you’re not placing on the podium every time out, and it’s a much more satisfying mode than campaigns in other recent simulation racers.
Another aspect in WRC 8‘s favor is how varied the career mode can be. In between the season of WRC rally events, the player can also attempt to take on various challenges ranging from training to racing in extreme conditions (such as having a heavily damaged car). This is all optional, so you can skip them if you want, but historical races are a lot of fun and it’s one way that players can try out for new racing teams. Rally racing games tend to get repetitive, so this attempt to break up the monotony is much appreciated.
WRC 8 Review | A rally racing game for everyone
The biggest difference between WRC 8 and Codemasters’ series is how much more welcoming KT Racing’s title is. From a ton of selectable aids that help beginner racers to an array of difficulty settings, this isn’t purely meant for hardcore racers (although the authentic difficulty will put up a challenge for everyone). Considering how fully featured the career mode is, this is the perfect entry-level game as players can begin racing in the Junior WRC with assists and eventually wind up at the top of the world without them on. There’s a real opportunity for growth here and that is what racing games are best at.
A number of multiplayer modes round out the package and the limited time events are the most interesting. These “Rallye” challenges have everyone using the same car and drivers in order to ensure an even playing field and are great for competitive racers, but if you’re not into esports then there isn’t much on offer here. There’s also more standard multiplayer lobbies for people looking to have fun, and it even supports split-screen racing; a rare feature in 2019.
WRC 8 is the best game yet in the series and has a major edge on its chief competitor due to its far more accessible racing. Whether you are a novice or veteran behind the wheel, the latest World Rally Championship title will offer up an appropriate challenge thanks to its overhauled career mode and dynamic weather system. It is also packed to the brim with content as there are over 100 special stages and all of the real-life rally teams you could possibly want to use like Citroen Racing and Toyota. Given its breadth and depth, WRC 8 is a A-class vehicle in both quantity and quality.
GameRevolution reviewed WRC 8 on PS4 with a copy provided by the publisher.