EA Sports WRC Review: A Rally Fan's Dream?

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Today, a new rally game becomes available to the world. We tried out EA Sports WRC so you do not have to, find out what we thought of the game in our review.

Image credit: EA Sports

UPDATE 13/11/2023:

A week after the official release and our review of EA Sports WRC, Codemasters launched a major patch, update 1.3. This post-launch update mostly aimed at tackling the sizeable performance and stability issues players were facing with this game.

In our initial playthrough of the game, we certainly noticed performance dropping in certain stages. In fact, frequent stutters plagued our time with the title. That being said, our experience was far better than that of many players upon release, many of whom experienced boot-up crashes, low framerate, buggy graphics and many other game-breaking issues.

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Since the update, we have had the chance to spend more time with EA Sports WRC and the stuttering we experienced does seem to have vanished. On our system, performance does appear to be improved, rendering the game far more enjoyable.

One must note however that other players have already claimed that the update has not corrected all performance-related problems. Furthermore, the title is far from optimised with a number of multiplayer bugs and glitches resulting in damaged gameplay.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE 31/10/2023:

It is the moment rally fans from across the globe have been waiting for. Today, EA Sports WRC launches to the market for those that pre-ordered the game.

The first title under the new licence agreement between the World Rally Championship and EA Sports, it is the first chance for fans to taste what the developer brings to the table.


Does it hold a candle to Kylotynn Games’ WRC Generations? Is it simply DIRT Rally 2.0 with some fancy new cars? Is it a perfect simulation of the rallying world? Find out all you need to know in our review of EA Sports WRC.

EA Sports WRC content​

From the get-go, EA Sports WRC was announced to feature a lot of content. In fact, the game not only brings together every rally and car from the FIA WRC and WRC2 championships. It also contains a number of historical pieces.

Infamous rallies such as Indonesia – under the Pacifico name – and Corsica – dubbed Mediterraneo – join the 13 rallies of the real world calendar. Well, 12 in the game’s current state. The most recent Central European Rally comes in a free update post-launch. One can find the full stage list here.

In the past, one may notice that the speciality of KT’s WRC games was the stage design. In fact, the Dirt series certainly lacked in the atmosphere department whilst losing the sense of driving on real roads. With this new game, that sense is all but gone. Stages feel like true journeys on real roads used by everyday folk, simply turned into rally courses. That alongside the great WRC licencing means each stage feels like an event.


On the car front, one can tell that the DIRT Rally series has had a great influence on the title. EA Sports brings back all the great historical classes of the previous games and bolsters them with new cars and a few new classes.

Whilst the main focus in the majority of game modes is the modern hybrid R1 machinery, fans of rally’s past are sure to be pleased. Overall, there is a lot to sink one’s teeth into with EA Sports WRC.

READ MORE: EA Sports WRC full car list

Whilst the Codemasters stages of old lacked against market rivals, the British team has always excelled in car design. That does not fail to continue with EA Sports WRC. Cars look great from both the inside and out.

Furthermore, the different sounds on show are sublime. The engine notes, the noise of gravel hitting the chassis, transmission whine and suspension knocks all feel real.

Single Player in EA Sports WRC​

From quick stage time trials to all-in online leagues, there are many ways of enjoying EA Sports WRC. However, it is clear that a lot of time and effort went into the Career Mode. We will bring a full guide into the early stages of the Career soon. But in short, the player takes on the role of a rally racer looking to make it through the ranks to WRC’s top class.

This requires the help of sponsors that one must keep happy by taking part in certain historical rally events and other such appearances. Adding cars to one’s garage and taking part in different events, one will rise through the ranks. However, it is crucial to keep on top of expenditure in the form of car ownership and crew costs.

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Whilst providing an additional aspect to the career, enabling fans to live the life of an amateur enthusiast racer, an option to enable or disable the managerial modes would be nice. In F1 23, one can choose to go through the My Team career, or simply live life as a driver. Having a similar option in EA Sports WRC would be a great bonus for those that do not want to track team budgets.

Aside from the mainstay that is the Career Mode, EA Sports WRC features a quick play mode that allows players to set up their own championships. Pick individual stages from any of the rally locations with either random or pre-set weather conditions. Switch from one car class to another for each round. Change up the seasons, there is a lot of flexibility in this mode, as one can see from Michel’s video of the Preview event.


If you would rather follow a more realistic and down to earth season, the Championship mode does what it says on the tin. Jump aboard a WRC or WRC2 car and take on the full 2023 calendar.

Elsewhere, the Moments mode akin to F1 Replay will reportedly grow in size as time goes on. From release, five moments are available to compete in. However, every day will see another challenge join the fray.

Finally, the Rally School also has a number of challenges to complete. Whilst the Moments focus on monumental occasions in the history of rallying, the Rally School is all about learning the basics. This is a fantastic way of getting into the title and will prove crucial to those new to rallying, learning the ropes from circuit racing. It is also a wonderful throwback to previous rally games like Richard Burns Rally.

EA Sports WRC Online Racing​

Elsewhere, the online multiplayer is available in two forms. Players can get together in the Quick Play mode, which sees up to 32 players get together at once to complete stages together. With a voice chat functionality and ways of tracking where one’s rivals are, this is a great way of racing with friends at the weekend.

For those that want to race in a more regular form, Clubs is surely the way to go. Earlier this year, we touched on the online world of Richard Burns Rally. Clubs in EA Sports WRC is somewhat similar to the leagues present in RBR. The mode enables players to organise and compete in many different rallies and championships. Using multiple classes and able to attract seemingly endless amounts of players, this will be a fun way of competing in the wild world of rally.

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In fact, unlike the DIRT Rally series or KT Games’ WRC titles, Clubs allows multiple classes competing at once. This should allow fans to run the car and class they want. Organisers will also get to choose which classes can feature in a Clubs competition. One can imagine the challenge of Sim Rally Masters being replicated in this new way of playing.

It is fair to say there are plenty of things to do in EA Sports WRC. That is not counting the vast amounts of customization one can do to their car, helmet, overalls and identity. Thanks to the Builder mode, one can even create their own R1, R5 or Junior WRC car. This is available to use both in the Career Mode and in the multiplayer modes.

Poor Menu Design​

With games that bridge the gap between controller-focused consoles and keyboard-inclined PC, menu design is always a hot topic. Unfortunately, one must admit that with this latest title, EA and Codemasters have got it wrong.

It is clear that the sub-menu format available in EA Sports WRC suits controller usage. However, that means that those on PC with a wheel and keyboard may struggle to navigate.

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On many occasions such as choosing liveries, making setup tweaks and putting together custom championships, specific buttons are the only way of moving forward. However, these are poorly indicated. As a result, there are no keyboard equivalents and wheel users will spend a good minute figuring out which button is which at each menu.

If one tries to conduct some of these adjustments with a mouse, they will struggle. For example, changing a livery requires hovering over the car in question and hitting a button. So it is crucial to know what each button does on one’s wheel.

There is one major positive to the EA Sports WRC menu however. Much like the most recent F1 game, EA implements an excellent variety of menu music to the rally game. This is perfect for hyping up before a stage.

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Furthermore, it seems a lot of work has gone into the service repair screen from DIRT Rally 2.0 to EA Sports WRC. One can now see all damaged items without scrolling. This provides a better view of repairs, the time they take and their cost. The screen also offers a more stylish look than the previous title.

EA Sports WRC Performance and Bugs​

One of the big news topics throughout the title’s announcement phase was its switch to the Unreal Engine from Ego. In fact, Codemasters is dropping its in-house engine with this game, instead relying on the Epic creation. With the old Ego engine seemingly struggling, the newer base provides great visuals and larger environments.

In fact, EA Sports WRC certainly looks great for the most part. With fantastic lighting on offer, impressive greenery detail beside every road and landscapes to drop jaws, there is a lot to gawk at.

However, the more intense stage environments and new engine do seem to bring downsides as well. Throughout our time with the game, we have noticed some glitches and bugs. Racing early on stages with lots of undulation, one can spot graphical bugs in the ground surface in the rear view mirror.

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Obviously, this is not a game-breaking issue. But it certainly takes away from the immersion, something the game does very well on a whole. In his video, Michel also spots a few minor glitches that are sure to detract from the experience.

Whilst driving, we also came across some stutters and framerate drops at times. These are certainly infrequent and are in no way detrimental to the overall gameplay. However, when they do occur, they influence braking points, turn-in and overall driving performance.

These are small signs that the game could do with some refinement. EA is keen to point out that, much like F1 23, the community will get to raise concerns about the title’s performance throughout its existence. Furthermore, a patch will release in a week’s time according to the developer. Chances are these minor bugs will disappear then.


Unfortunately, we are yet to test the game on either the PS5 or Xbox Series X/S. As a result, we cannot comment on the performance of EA Sports WRC on consoles.

Overall: A Very Fun Rally Game​

One might be wondering why we are yet to discuss the handling of EA Sports WRC in this review. Well, the simple answer is that it is a difficult topic. Sure, those fanatical about perfectly accurate physics and an unforgiving rally experience may not get what they want here. However, if it is fun behind the wheel of a rally car you want, look no further.

A very immersive game that does a great job of making its physics accessible and challenging, EA Sports WRC is sure to put smiles on faces. In fact, it is easy to lose track of time. Be it when going for your first title or closing the gap to the next rival in the standings, you will not want to stop.

Edit: We cut the last part of this segment. Our Editor Angus was trying to make a point here that it is not always 100% about the pure data accuracy when it comes to the handling model, but also about how it feels while actually "using" those physics. Unfortunately his wording was not on point to really get that across and to avoid further misunderstanding and misinterpretation, we decided to take it out.


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What one must point out is that the feeling of tarmac in EA Sports WRC is far more natural than DIRT Rally 2.0. The float at the rear is certainly still present, if much reduced. But the cars do feel more connected to the surface. This means that confidence comes more naturally on the mountain passes of Corsica and Monte Carlo.

In fact, putting tyre to road is a very fun and satisfying experience in EA Sports WRC. Comparing to the past few decades of the rally game market, one must admit that this feels like the best option available right now. Sure, the hardcore rally fans will find more challenge in RBR. But for the fun of tackling an unknown piece of brilliantly designed road in a perfectly modelled car that sounds like the real deal, EA Sports WRC is surely the best game there is.

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About author
Angus Martin
Motorsport gets my blood pumping more than anything else. Be it physical or virtual, I'm down to bang doors.

Latest reviews

Cons: It's a simcade , not a "dirt rally 3"
It's a simcade , not a "dirt rally 3"
Pros: Long Stages.
WRC license.
Decent car list.
Cons: Sound downgrade from DR2.0 for many cars.
No UDP Telemetry.
No VR.
Rain/Snow effects are bad.
Watersplash effect bad.
Incredible grip everywhere.
Weather effects meh.
Cars still rotate about the center.
Lack of road texture variation.
Career is poorly executed, WRC:G did better at building a team.
Graphics pop in in real time & replays.
Lack of Liveries.
AI is a joke, Maxed out and all assists off they're 1minute behind on most stages.
Been playing for 20 hours now. Played every dirt/WRC/CMR game for decades.
Is it the DR2.0+WRC we wanted? No. Overall there is a big lack of features that already existed in both WRC and DR franchises. And if anything I feel it lands more on the WRC style of game than where codies have previously taken us.
Some fidelity and polish has been lost along the way with the switch to unreal engine.
It's clear the title has been built to bring monetization in for livers/builder/customization etc etc.
The physics seems a step backwards towards a "fun" arcade handling model with huge grip everywhere. Even with a Group B RWD car its hard to hold a slide for any extended period on wet gravel.
I have not had much performance related drama but its clear many have.
The long stages, the reason for the engine switch are great if you have time, but the overall lack of variation in their surfaces/textures/assets is distracting and the difference between countries has been toned down when it comes to surfaces.
I think the game has a lot of potential but it will depend if the Devs are ready to turn it in to a love project (like Dirt Rally was) or just another copy paste yearly release where things don't get fixed until the next version. I feel they need a good 6 months to polish everything and add back stuff that's missing. Time will tell.
Pros: - Overall gameplay is very satisfying
- I like graphics (maxed out)
- No irritating songs...
- FFB
Cons: - performance (which is fixed now 5/11) - 100fps 4K maxed with DLSS balance or 85-90 with quality... something like that - Still some stutters and "reflections" issue (looks like ****)
- NO UDP - can't believe...
- No VR - i can believe.... that's ok
I generally agree with bad comments but FFB for me is actually great after proper settings. Regarding rally drivers experiences and more experienced pl than me it should be like drifting everywhere. RBR is exaggerated from what I understand so there is a little to much grip. It is not like a glued cars. Fix your FFB first because it makes huge difference in every sim/game.
Pros: An Excellent mix of Cars and stages.
Beautiful graphics.
90% of the cars sound great.
Great Physics.
Feels alot like the Dirt series with offical cars and stages.
Cons: Has Crashed 3 times in 17 hours of play.
Very occational stutters
Has a great mix of cars and tracks, the graphics look really nice.
The whole "sim" feels alot like the dirt series (personally I like this)
Performance for me has been pretty good, I had 3 crashes in a row trying to load my championship but it seemed to resolve itself. I do have occational frame drops (maybe once or twice over a stage) but reading the recent post from the developers this should be addressed in the next patch.
I dont usually buy DLC but I think I will if its decent (UK stages please!)
Overall I think EA have hit the mark and have a great base to build upon (hopefully they dont get greedy! lol!)
I think EA and Codemasters have delivered exactly what they promised in advance. The price is fair and the content is extensive. Anyone who expected sophisticated new driving physics is simply naive. Codemasters is the epitome of Simcade titles (see also the F1 series). And that's just the way it is. The only thing that bothers me about the game is the lack of FPS. The ratio between appearance and performance just doesn't fit. For example, there are too few trees and yet no FPS. In a racing game, I expect at least 120hz with WQHD. I have a i7 and a 3080ti and need DLSS (balanced) and GFX settings med to high (forget about Ultra) to run it smoothly.
That is simply a joke.
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So, the menu design and navigation is bad but the music is good. Sure that totally makes up for it :sleep:

And EA knows about performance issues and bugs, hence the upcoming patch, yet still releases the game in this stage. Sadly this has become a common trend in games. That's why I never buy any game at release.
 
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Well, I suppose it's a good start albeit not for a new simulator standard? Hard to imagine RBR will be overthrown at this point, unless BeamNG devs decide to make a game out of their sandbox. Either way, good to hear there's a good game there, since all the F1 failures over recent years were worrying.

Sad to hear trademark Unreal shader stutter, pop-in and bland lighting is there. Unfortunately stutter will probably never get fixed, except on consoles if it runs well on them. Not looking forwards to what VR will be like. Good to hear that driving feels alive and a career is there. Maybe one day Codemasters/EA will manage to make character models that don't look so intensely ugly? It's a tradition I suppose.

Although I get the need for good reviews and seo for rd to stay afloat, the recent trend of constantly pitting realism vs fun is getting ridiculous. "Therefore the accuracy of handling does not matter" lmfao. Ok. Sure.
Players are after realism because it is more fun than simplified handling models, it offers more depth, variation, replayability etc etc. I want my virtual toy cars to have four pivot points instead of one because it's incredibly fun to learn to handle that rather then learn a series of moves like in a fighting arcade (which is what defacto DR1 and 2 incentivized). It's not less fun, it's just a depth of fun a cut above the average, which is what we keep getting. Technology, expertise, controllers - everything is there, except for the head of game development execs, which is as often in a dark place where the moon don't shine.
 
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After all the recent useless articles about this game I was curious about the review.
The promise of yet another article to explain early career steps, makes me wonder if it's so badly executed that it's difficult to understand what you have to do, or Overtake editors think we're a bunch of idiots...

Then when it gets to physics:
"Therefore, the accuracy of the handling does not matter".

I'm sorry, but in the last pair of months the average article quality on racedepartment - mostly thanks to Overtake's ones - has gone downhill to the point where I'll soon find some other source for simracing news if it doesn't get better. I wonder if the few people that will find those clickbait articles on google are enough to compensate for the likely loss of interest from of the main RD community
 
I bought it on xbox as never at home enough to sit at the pc and put the time in these days and it runs like any other UE game. Limited by the fact I only have a series S but it's still playable. One thing codemasters really do need to take a bow on is the sound engineering it sounds amazing especially the wrc cars the antilag over run is perfect.

Oh and having started career Keith is someone who in real life would need to be told to stfu :roflmao:
 
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I played a (Welsh) stage on DR1 and DR2 the other night and found that both titles had strengths and weaknesses, but maybe summarised (at a glance) that DR1 felt strict on realism & simulation and DR2 felt more forgiving and fun-orientated. I also found FFB to reflect this, with DR1 being more detailed with DR2 being more vague.

I ended up preferring DR1, but I'm wondering if WRC strikes that subtle yet maybe all important balance of the two "styles", or just ends up biased toward DR2's entertainment approach? Having "traditional" fun is obviously great, but a good challenge is more fun and lasting for me.

Oh and...
Therefore, the accuracy of the handling does not matter.
Respectfully RD - is that a statement that should be present in any racing game review? I get your point that when playing WRC this is more about fun than accuracy to you, but to those who find handling to matter (and this doesn't necessarily mean hardcore sim fanatics only) then your review of this element isn't particularly informative aside from a passing mention to tarmac. I don't recall reading about how FFB even roughly feels. I know there are loads of wheels out there and it's all subjective and all that usual blah blah, but just a few comments of what you'll feel in general would be a helpful addition to a review.
 
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Club Staff
Premium
I still don't get the "DiRT Rally stages were not great, KT's were awesome".
DiRT Rally used actual replicas of real stages. KT made it up. I know what I prefer.

Also @Angus Martin , just a couple of days ago I saw a "only one class at a time" with regards to clubs. Hmm, this is positive news then.
 
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Well with all the respect I must say that this is a lazy and superficial review.

Pointing out the menu music as a ‚major positive‘ is ridiculous - it‘s simply a matter of taste, for me personally shutting down the music was the first thing do to cause it annoyed me right from the beginning.

Saying that the physics don’t matter is a joke. Especially on a website like RD I expect a deep dive review in physics! If I want a review from a casual gamer I‘m going to IGN. So this review is just a dissapointment for a website like RD, I generally have the feeling that the sim-quality suffered here since the involvement of overtake (starting with their childish thumbnails).

But whatever - here are my two cents: I tried EA WRC for round about two hours and have to say that the physics, especially the FFB are worse than DR2.0, you have significantly less feeling for the car but ironically a better control, just because the physics are way more arcadish than in DR2.0. With this tremendous amount of grip it‘s just less of a challenge, less fun and sadly too ‚simcade‘ imo.

Cheers.
 
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With this tremendous amount of grip it‘s just less of a challenge, less fun and sadly too ‚simcade‘ imo.

Cheers.
What did you expect though? Its not a title representing the official fia series so has to appeal to everyone it was never gonna be full sim. Personally so far I like it way more than kylotons efforts.
 
What did you expect though? Its not a title representing the official fia series so has to appeal to everyone it was never gonna be full sim. Personally so far I like it way more than kylotons efforts.

I expected what Armstrong said in his streams, that they followed an approach to meet/transfer the DR2.0 handling standards. So I expected no hardcore-sim for sure but a feeling (physics, handling, FFB, ..) thats comparable to the predecessor. Transferring a handling model into another engine must be a very hard thing to do though.
 

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