Earlier this month, EA Sports unveiled its upcoming rally title. With EA Sports WRC using Unreal Engine rather than Ego, could this be a sign for F1 24?
For years, Codemasters and EA Sports in more recent times have created a series of popular racing games focused around Formula One. The yearly F1 series of games has now been going in its current guise since 2009.
Whilst the main element linking each of the past 15 releases is the series they feature, there is something else. Indeed, under Codemasters’ direction, the series has always utilised the Ego game engine. This is true for seemingly every game the now EA-owned studio has created.
But the most recent announcement of EA Sports WRC changes things. Whilst the Dirt Rally series that came before it also ran on the Ego engine, the next rally title from the company will not. Instead, a switch to Unreal Engine has occurred in what is effectively one of the studio’s first outsourcing moves ever. The question now is, what does this move mean for Codemasters’ other titles, namely F1 24?
What Is Unreal Engine?
In recent years, the Unreal Engine name has become a staple in the gaming world. More and more titles both in the sim racing niche and across the wider gaming industry are using this graphics engine as a base.
Whilst its UE4 and UE5 variants are those catching the eye of developers such as Kunos with Assetto Corsa Competizione, Unreal has been around since the late-1990’s. Indeed, its original iteration was created by Epic MegaGames, now Epic Games, for its first person shooter, Unreal.
Several years later after many tweaks, advancements and four new editions, we have one of the most advanced graphics engines on the market. UE is renowned for its lighting system calculations and 3D modelling capabilities. Furthermore, with many tools available with the base source code, it provides excellent building blocks to developers both big and small.
Whilst a small minority does complain about the engine’s behaviours in certain scenarios, it is certainly one of the most popular game engines out there. Some of the best games around use either Unreal Engine 4 or 5. EA Sports WRC will use its graphical capabilities whilst using Dirt Rally 2.0‘s physics as a base, so that trend is sure to continue.
History of the Ego Engine
Back in a time when dial-up broadband internet was considered fast and the person writing this was just a wee lad, Codemasters was readying the release of a new game series. Continuing the legacy of the great man, Codemasters launched Colin McRae: Dirt in June 2007.
This new title kicking off a new racing game series from the developer required the creation of a new engine. The result was an adapted version of Sony’s PhyreEngine, dubbed Ego. Enabling the studio to create larger environments, provide much improved graphics and more in-depth physics, this new base revolutionised what Codemasters could do.
Proving quite the success with this first rally title, the team continued using the engine for its next releases. The popular Race Driver: Grid launched in 2008 using the engine and the team’s first F1 game since 2002, F1 2009 also launched on Ego. It is this game that would kick off a journey of over 15 years for the engine.
Ever since 2009, the Ego engine has seen countless upgrades going from its contemporary original release to today’s version 4. Over time, its limits have been pushed further and further beyond what its creators believed to be possible. Indeed, it has served as the base for numerous titles. Dirt Rally, F1 Race Stars and even first person shooters Operation Flashpoint utilise the engine.
But with nearly two decades of service behind it, it is surely time for the Ego engine to become a feature of the past. Could this mighty engine finally give up its strangle hold on the F1 series next year?
F1 24 on Unreal Engine?
Clearly then throughout the last 17 years, Codemasters’ love for its own engine has been prominent. Every simulation title or sim-cade racer of theirs has used the Ego engine since its inception. So one will understand why the EA Sports WRC announcement is shocking.
With EA dropping the Ego engine for its upcoming rally game, it puts into question the studio’s confidence in the now-17-year-old creation. Furthermore, games now focus ever-more on next-gen consoles whilst the graphical quality bar is constantly rising. Large steps may well be in the studio’s plan for next year.
Perhaps getting rid of the old and seemingly redundant Ego engine will allow the development team to fully utilise the power of PS5 and Xbox Series S/X. Additionally, providing a new kick of graphical fidelity is sure to boost excitement for the series. Recent editions have certainly lost draw among the community.
There is no word from Codemasters of EA at this time on the matter. But it will be interesting to see if this WRC reveal points towards a larger switch for the team.
Would you like to see F1 24 use the Unreal Engine? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!