WRC 9 has been released and we talked to publisher Nacon about the new features and improvements.
Image Source: Nacon
WRC 9 is the latest title in the series of the official World Rally Championship games. After its successful release on September 3, we talked to Sebastien Waxin. The Senior Marketing Project Manager Racing at Nacon gave us some insights into the development of the game.
Hello Sebastien, thank you for joining us! We know this year has been rough for many game developers, but you will still manage to release WRC 9 on time. What impact has the corona pandemic had on the development of the game?
We were lucky that everybody made the shift to remote work quite easily with today’s technologies, so we did not have to move the release date of the game. That being said, it did not have any negative impacts on us. I would even say that we were in a situation where all the professional drivers and the whole community were stuck at home, and many people invested in sim rigs.
It helped us to share some beta versions of the game to collect their feedback much easier as they had free time and they were suddenly well equipped. In a way, the attention that sim racing had during this period really helped us.
If you had to name only one new feature in WRC 9 that is the most important one, which one would it be and why?
If we talk about a feature or a game mode, it is definitely the clubs system which will be a game changer for the community. We give them the chance to create their own competitions and compete with all the other players in the world, with their own leaderboards at the end.
Everything is directly done via the game, and you can create your own club, but also be part of three other clubs at the same time. We believe that this will be a key feature for the community since our players always want to create competitions and face their rivals.
We have an array of free updates after the launch of #WRC9, bringing new stages, new modes, and new cars!— WRC The Official Game (@WRCTheGame) August 31, 2020
Here’s a look at the roadmap detailing what to expect in the coming months. pic.twitter.com/qPZp73qxmr
What are the main aspects that you focused on improving compared to WRC 8?
We had a big focus on many “social” features to give the community the tools to make their own experience like the clubs, but also to create content like never before with a new photo mode and replay cameras management. But the devs also invested a lot of time and work in the physics of the cars to be as close as possible to the real cars.
A lot of work has been done on the aerodynamics, on the braking distances, on the weight transfer, on the suspensions. While WRC 8 was already a good step in the simulation side, WRC 9 goes way further, and we now see real WRC drivers as fast as top esports players. This is the best proof of realism as they are the ones who know what it takes to be a rally driver!
There will also be a new co-op mode where friends can come together and play as driver and co-driver in one car. What makes you think that those two roles will be equally fun for both players?
Rallying is not just about the driver but about a good cooperation between the driver and his co-driver. It’s the only motorsport where everything is not only on the driver’s shoulders but more on the two guys in the car. We imagined then a mode where someone has to virtually sit next to you, online, to give you the pace.
Everything will be a question of rhythm with a push-to-talk system and the result of the stage will not only depend on how fast the driver was, but also on how good the rhythm of the co-driver was. The combination of the two scores will decide if you deserve the win or not! We really believe that it will offer very funny online moments either with your friends or even with people that you do not know.
How important is the “have fun with your friends” aspect for a motorsports simulation such as WRC 9?
By nature, people will try to be as fast as possible, and they will always fight for the win. Even if we want to satisfy the most hardcore players with strong competitive aspects, we need to remind ourselves that it is still a videogame and some people play it just for fun.
That is why, for example, we still include the split screen multiplayer mode just for the fun of fighting for the win on the same sofa. The co-driver mode will be another addition in that direction and will become your new virtual sofa.
The game also features three new rallies compared to WRC 8: Japan, New Zealand and Kenya. How would you estimate the difficulty of these and what challenges will players have to face?
These three new environments propose very different experiences. While Safari Rally Kenya is a mythic gravel round in the savanna, with very wide roads suddenly transforming into narrow roads in a village, Rally Japan is a tarmac event in the mountains with very tight but fast sections.
Rally New Zealand is a gravel challenge with a fast series of turns where you will quickly have the feeling of dancing with the car. Weight transfer is an important element to play with for that rally to keep the momentum going and place the car in the right position.
WRC 9 will be essential for the development of the competitive virtual rally scene. What are your plans for the esports community? How important is the esports scene for the development of the game?
We developed a strong esports competition five years ago with WRC 5 and we see some epic fights at the top with very dedicated players and new very strong players every year. Sometimes the difference between two players is about few tenths of a second after more than 15 minutes of driving, just like we see in the real world. We even had rounds where the top ten were in the same five seconds, which shows the level of competition we have.
And it is not only for the same guys every year, as this year we have three newcomers in the final top eight of our eSports WRC Championship! But esports is most of the time considered to be for the elite gamer, so we also have weekly and daily challenges in WRC 9. Every time you come back to the game you have a new challenge to compete and can compare yourself to other players. These are the first steps towards the competitive aspect.
With the WRC 9 FIA Rally Star DLC, you aim to find and develop talented rally drivers. What are the main reasons for your engagement with this project and how realistic is it to find real racing prospects through the game?
This is a fantastic chance and from the first day that the FIA talked to us about this project, everybody was excited about the idea of creating future WRC drivers and maybe World Champions by starting with our game! This is also why we need to build the most realistic car physics possible to really give the sensation of driving a real car. Of course, we can’t reproduce the danger and the sensations that you almost risk your life on every stage, but we can definitely consider now that if you are fast in the game there is a good chance that you won’t be bad in the car.
When you see real drivers feeling confident with the cars in the game, that shows how close is the gap now between virtual and reality. The Rally Star detection program is a unique chance for players around the world to get a foot in motorsport without the need of considerable budgets.
Track racing was able to make it many years ago, but we all know that rallying is a different world and requires more things to reproduce the sensations of the different conditions. You have bumps and jumps, loose surfaces, hard weather conditions and sometimes everything mixed in 30 kilometers. With the level of realism and precision reached with WRC 9, we can say that we now have the perfect tool to find some future rally champions!
CODEMASTERS ACQUIRES OFFICIAL WRC LICENSE
From 2023 on, Codemasters will hold the licenses the official WRC games. What does that mean for you and how does it affect the next games that you create for the series?
We not only still have WRC 9 to launch, but also WRC 10 and WRC 11. When you see the improvements made from WRC 6 to WRC 9, you can easily imagine how far we are expecting to go with the next games.
We are 200% committed to deliver the best rally experiences in the coming years as our priority is to please rally fans every year! Rallying is about being flat-out until the end of the stage if you want to win. This is our philosophy.
Thank you, Sebastien! We look forward to following the further development of the WRC games as well as the esports rally competition. Follow @overtake_gg on Twitter and visit OverTake to not miss any news!