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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are you testing the game today? Do you agree with our review of EA Sports WRC? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!