Codemasters and EA are now at the helm of the WRC licence and are developing what many are calling WRC 23. Though exciting, there are a few reason why you should lower your expectations for the next WRC game.
Image Credit: Kylotonn Games
One of the major news stories from the end of last year was the release of Kylotonn Games’ final attempt at a WRC game. After making the official WRC game since 2015 and the release of WRC 5, the licence is changing hands.
From this year, EA and Codemasters, the team behind the F1 franchise, will be responsible for the official WRC game series. Following on from the mixed reviews of WRC Generations, the developer shift may sound like good news. A new team with new ideas is certainly the perfect way to etch away the existing issues with the games. Though as you’re about to see, there’s an argument for dampening expectations regarding the next WRC game.
Goodbye Healthy Competition in the Rally Game Market
Despite not holding the WRC licence, Codemasters has put out some good titles capable of rivaling KT Games’ offerings. The Dirt Rally franchise is often lauded for simulating the rallying experience. In fact, the competition Dirt Rally 2.0 has provided to the WRC franchise has often elevated both games to new heights.
Now that Codemasters and EA hold the WRC licence, the rally game market will have just one mainstream offering eliminating any sense of rivalry. That is if you don’t count Richard Burns Rally, the 20-year-old game still often dubbed the best rally game around.
Without a worthy challenger, EA and Codemasters can theoretically get away with producing mediocre content. Where else would rally fans go? BeamNG.Drive offers a realistic rally driving experience, but without any recognisable car models. Assetto Corsa‘s modding community is full of rallying content, but the quality of mods varies greatly. And seemingly no official developer is working on a dedicated rally game.
EA’s Recent Record Doesn’t Lift Expectations
For many years now, the F1 franchise has been in a rut. As we detailed in a recent video, the yearly release schedule doesn’t give Codemasters and EA enough time to add or polish features. As such, we get more or less the same game year on year with current tracks, and liveries. Even then, the tracks from the real season aren’t always present or are recycled from previous releases.
Furthermore, since EA took over the Codemasters team, many feel that the series has gone down hill. Cash grabbing DLC features and unrelated customisation pieces litter F1 22. There’s no need for an F1 game to feature supercars with poor handling or various clothes and accessories for a character you only see in a menu. Especially when F2 content seems pretty rushed and the Formula 3 cars don’t even get their moment in the sun.
These are two major issues I can see bringing down the next EA WRC game. Just like the F1 franchise, content will focus on micro-transactions and character customisation rather than the actual cars. What’s more, due to the yearly releases expected for this franchise, any issues found in the title many are calling WRC 23 won’t get fixed for the 2024 iteration.
Yet Another Rally Game Catering to a Mass Audience
As we all know, EA is a massive games studio. It places itself among some of the largest game developers in the world and is responsible for some of the most valuable franchises in gaming. It hasn’t reached this level by creating niche games dedicated to a subgenre of the gaming industry.
As such, simracers must lower their expectations for the next WRC game if they’re looking for an out-and-out rally simulator. Akin to F1 22, WRC 23 will certainly cater to a wide and diverse audience, most of whom will be playing on a gamepad. Don’t expect this game to feel perfect on your €1,000 direct drive wheel. It will be built with accessibility in mind.
Not all Doom and Gloom for WRC 23
All this is certainly not to say that the perfect alternative is to keep the status quo. Kylotonn Games may have shown brief moments of success during its time in charge of the WRC game, but the recent titles are far from perfect.
In WRC Generations alone, there were a whole heap of sore points. Glitches in throttle application. Sloppy research leading to cars with incorrect features such as differential settings and transmissions. Audio in many cars that wouldn’t even be acceptable in the Colin McRae rally games from the early 2000’s. All these major problems many fans had with the game are still present today.
The heyday of KT’s rally gaming prowess is often described as around WRC 8 or 9. So the series has been in a downward spiral for some time now. It seems a change to the monotony is definitely a good thing.
Furthermore, one can’t overlook the fact that Codemasters has done a terrific job with the gaming aspect of the F1 franchise. If WRC 23 has anything as in depth as My Team from F1 22, the simracing community will surely give the game plenty of love.
Only time will tell if the next era of rally gaming will be a success or a total flop. But if rumours are to be believed, the upcoming game is only a few months away with many calling for a Spring release date. Until then though, I will have low expectations for the next WRC game and I advise you to have the same.
Are you feeling optimistic or cautiously realistic for the next WRC game? Let us know by sending a tweet @OverTake_gg or leave a comment down below!