Remember WRC5? Well, forget everything you knew about last year’s iteration of the game. This year’s officially licenced FIA WRC video is both a refreshing and surprising new release. If you’re a little hesitant to part ways with your hard earned money in fears of being disappointed, let me assure you that the disappointment will only be experienced by those who don’t own this racing title. WRC6 is simply put, an absolutely brilliant return to the virtual world of the racing discipline of Rally.
From the get-go the game has you play out a short but interesting end of season battle for the top spot in WRC. You take over the reins in the Hyundai i20 of Thierry Neuville. It’s the last round of the WRC season and we’re on the east coast of Australia, a few hours north of Sydney in Coffs Harbour. The mission sounds demanding (especially for those of you who follow the race season in real life) as you now have to beat Sebastion Ogier, probably the fastest Frenchman to have ever been born. Unlucky for him but fortuitous for you, Ogier has an unfortunate accident and fate presents you with a chance to shine; drive fast and true and you might just win. Just playing through this introduction you start to grasp just how much better WRC6 is than its predecessors, so much so that it as a worthy contender for the exceptional DiRT Rally.
The game’s main mode is the career, where players have to first create their race profile then choose from a variety of contracts offered by the teams. Initially you will begin in the lower-tiered Junior WRC, but by successfully completing the varied objectives tasked by your team you will be offered better contracts over time, in the hope of making it to the high stakes of the WRC teams. Fail to keep your team happy though and you will start to suffer the consequences, until finally you’re looking for work again. With the seasons long and the racing unpredictable anything can happen. Other game modes such as Quick Race let you dictate the race variables and race team and let you get into action ASAP. Otherwise you can choose to create your own tournament and pick and choose which stages are used and create your own little version of the WRC career, without all the hassles of contracts and objectives.
you start to grasp just how much better WRC6 is than its predecessors, so much so that it as a worthy contender for the exceptional DiRT Rally.
For racing and rally fans alike, when Codemasters released DiRT Rally on consoles, it was pretty clear we had just been given the ultimate rally game that had ever been released. The genre was complete and life was good. However months have passed and loyal fans are yet to receive any news of additional content (I mean the good stuff like maps and cars). As a licensed game WRC6 contains a mind-boggling amount of content straight out of the box, including every single round in the official WRC calendar and all the licenced vehicles from the WRC, WRC2 and even the Junior WRC. Not only is there an impressive amount of licensed content, they have also successfully overhauled the physics and control mechanics that plagued the previous title, and the developers have done a commendable job adjusting the feel and difficulty of the on-track action.
I played with both a controller and a wheel, and either input is specifically catered for. At the end of the day though there’s much truer experience to be had when using a wheel. All sorts of variables change in-game to really make the most of the wheel and its attached enthusiast. Naturally the difficulty will increase but the cars’ overall control, force feedback and all sorts of goodies come alive. It’s not doom and gloom for a newbie though, the obvious difficulty and assist selections are available for those not so weathered when it comes to the wheel.
In addition to all the usual memorable stages that make an appearance in most rally games, some of the made-for-TV stages that WRC is famous for are also available. This is not only a welcome addition but an incredibly fun one. For the first time we get to race around some of the most enjoyable tracks that rally has to offer. Not only this but the redesigned physics engine creates a realistic experience on every surface; gravel, tarmac, snow, or dirt, the feeling is authentic. At same time the game’s sound does a very convincing job of making you feel that you are sliding around these varied surfaces. Small details like rocks cracking against the paintwork and the sound of dirt being pushed aside by the cars tyres really sell the experience and heighten the immersion.
We also see the addition of split-screen this year, which has been a welcome change for fans of offline fun. There are also party modes like 8-player hot seat, which allows up to 8 players in a session race and compare times over entire rallies. The online portion of multiplayer features both private and public lobbies, and you can choose single stages or entire race weekends. The experience is similar to the single-player action but your online buddies are superimposed as different coloured ghost outlines, so you don’t race side by side but rather in the traditional rally setup where the best time wins. The presence of the ghosts manages to amp up the pressure and thrill of competing next to a live player without having to worry about collisions (this is not Destruction Derby). Finally, the timed online challenges are also present and have become a norm in racing games these days. Plus if you’re really serious, the WRC use the game to host their E-sports competition online, which runs side by side with the real life competition of the WRC.
There are some negatives which I think deserve a mention but honestly don’t really affect the overall enjoyment of the experience. There’s some screen tearing that occurs from time to time and some very slight frame drops here and there, but like we have seen in Asetto Corsa, it could just be a matter of a patch release which will rectify these issues.
We also see the addition of split-screen this year, which has been a welcome change for fans of offline fun. There are also party modes like 8-player hot seat, which allows up to 8 players in a session race and compare times over entire rallies.
It good to see that WRC6 is such a huge improvement on WRC5, and it really shows what a difference a year can make. Over my time playing this game I have honestly had a hard time putting it down; enjoying the thrills and spills of the officially licenced version of the motor sport (which I very much enjoy spectating myself) and having it executed with such care and precision is sheer pleasure. WRC6 not only delivers an authentic and comparable virtual version of WRC but a highly entertaining and addictive video game in its own right. It would be a shame to see people judge this year’s game based on last year’s, as I think the team have learnt a lot from their failings, and it’s a title which no racing or rally fan should miss.
Reviewed on PS4