Since 2015, Kylotonn Games have been developing the official racing game series for the FIA World Rally Championship. With the fourth edition since then, the French developer continues to improve. But is that enough to knock Codemasters‘ genre king DiRT Rally 2.0 off the throne?
Do you still remember WRC 7? The launch of the Kylotonn rally simulation was just a year ago, and everything is about to get better with WRC 8. At the beginning of the game, you will not notice that at first. As in the last part, WRC 8 throws you straight into a test stage where you determine your driving skills. There are not much instructions when it comes to the controls, though it’s practically self-explanatory in a racing game.
On the other hand, it would have been more important to activate the co-driver’s announcements, which tell you precisely what curves or obstacles are coming, as in real rallying. Like last year, unfortunately, a tutorial is missing again, which is why you drive around like you have never driven a car in your life. Luckily, this feature in WRC 8 is pretty much the only thing Kylotonn did not manage to improve. Here is my review!
The most significant improvement in WRC 8 is the driving physics. Even with the controller, you can clearly feel the differences between the gravel surface or asphalt, and how the handling adapts depending on the weather conditions. Because of this, you can correct minor driving errors intuitively. The tires you choose for racing across the slopes in Italy, Australia, or even Germany also change the driving experience. Even with my eyes closed, I could say whether I have just taken a front-wheel or four-wheel drive.
WRC 8 proves to be more realistic than its predecessor. Bumps noticeably impact driving behavior. Compared to the previous year, Kylotonn also improved the collision behavior regarding environmental objects (but you still clash with many smaller, presumably destructible objects). At the edge of the track, a small touch sometimes throws the vehicle outright. Kylotonn also improved the effects of turning. The increase is very clear, especially since the mechanical damage to the vehicle is much more comprehensible. But when I compare it to the likes of DiRT Rally 2.0, WRC 8 still does not quite compete.
From Speeding in Monte Carlo to Recruiting a Mechanic
In WRC 8, you can compete in Junior WRC, WRC 2 and WRC, as well as take part in free competitions in all the racing locations. In addition, four classic rally cars are available, where you can get the Lancia Stratos from the 1970s and the Polo R WRC. As in the real-life racing calendar, WRC 8 adds Chile as a rally site. Of course, every country is included, from Monte Carlo to Turkey to Australia or Spain. Anyone who wants to experience a complete season can do so. Just as in the actual career, players only start in the Junior WRC or on request in the WRC 2.
The career mode is not just a sequence of individual rallies around the globe. You need to earn money, hire mechanics, and improve your team as part of a skill tree that somehow reminded me of F1 2019. However, the menu still looks like it’s from the early 1990s and misses some comfort features, such as when paying the crew. In the research tree, you can unlock similar improvements as Codemasters’ Formula One simulation does. For example, you can use Perk to reduce the damage to aerodynamic parts of your car. This will not only prevent your vehicle from losing footprint if damaged, but also reduce the time needed for repairs, which can quickly lead to hardly recoverable residues.
Sim Vs. Driving
The career is entertaining despite the overall half-baked system and the simple-minded performance. This is especially true due to the additional competitions that can be adapted in the calendar. Sometimes you compete against another driver in a show competition or try to reach the gold time goal on a small course. Another time, you devote yourself to an extreme conditional race.
For example, during the night and the storm, it will be a particularly challenging stage of the Turkey rally, while within a tight time limit you will have to get as far as possible to successfully complete the event. Only then will you collect points for level ascents, your progress tree, as well as reputational points in your team. Keeping the latter happy is not so easy, especially since the performance in the actual rallies remains the most important.
Why Kylotonn won’t let players set the opponent’s AI level in the career mode to the lowest of the three levels remains a mystery. The impact of this decision is clear: newcomers are quickly overwhelmed, as good placings are hard to achieve for them. Professionals could feel under-challenged, because the always medium-heavy competition with their driving skills cannot keep up. Dear developer, please change this by patch! It is well known that rallying is not easy. The game is therefore a simulation. At least, don’t expect an Assetto Corsa, but the game does go far. WRC 8 has the right balance between sim and enjoyable driving, as long as you have the perseverance.
An Improved Competitor
Kylotonn delivers WRC 8 as the most complete part of the racing game series so far. All riders, vehicles and teams of the current FIA World Championship are included. Key improvements concern technology, which scores well thanks to detailed vehicle models and authentically modeled routes. Most important of all is the more realistic driving model.
The innovations in the career, however, are only partially successful. A half-baked job has been done on the system for team management, and the menu navigation is just too cluttered. The biggest shortcoming of the career mode is the decision to remove the player’s ability to manually set the AI of competitors. For proven professionals, it may be too easy. Beginners on the other hand could quickly feel overwhelmed. Other gameplay options such as split screen, online multiplayer, season mode, test area, training, challenges and competitive online challenges really complete the game. In the end, WRC 8 did improve a lot, even though it does not quite have those playful DiRT Rally 2.0 vibes.
Did you try WRC 8? Did you enjoy the races in it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
WRC 8 is better than its predecessor, but it does have some points that need attention. It is packed to the brim with gameplay options and definitely a must-have for any rally fan.
- Greatly improved driving model
- Good graphics
- Good solo career
- Large vehicle range
- Tends to be hard for beginners
- Visual damage model only average
- Long loading times