Would you believe it? For once I’m reviewing a racing game and its not coming from the studio of Milestone S.r.l.. WRC 8 is the latest incarnation in the rally franchise from developer Kylotonn and published by BigBen Interactive. While the studio is no stranger to racing games, this is the first WRC game since 2017. Last year’s attempts, V-Rally 4 and TT isle of Man, were a mixed bag, but its safe to say that they were average attempts at best. Well, rally fans, this year I have good news. WRC 8 is a surprisingly good game. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but the two years development cycle seemed to have paid off.
Unlike Codemaster’s Dirt series, WRC is officially licensed. This means that you have access to all the cars, all the teams, and all the tracks form the real world sport. Even though the FIA licensing does not guarantee a good game, it certainly helps. Also helping is the excellent racing and the fact that driving in WRC 8 feels authentic. In fact, it is probably the most realistic rally racing sim on the market today. Cars will get airborne when you misjudge a sharp crest, and cornering under high speeds require you to manage your brakes. It is somewhat more forgiving than the Dirt-series, but make no mistake, it’s still a proper racing simulator. This implies a relatively steep learning curve. It is, however, not perfect. Cars sometimes react unpredictably which can cause them to spin out when they shouldn’t.
Another layer of complexity comes courtesy of the graphics. While the KT Engine seem to be designed with racing in mind, the visuals are a hit and miss. The cars look great, stunning even, with each model and variant being distinguishable from the next. Even the interiors are extremely detailed and contain many small real-life touches. Unfortunately the environment does not illustrate the same level of fidelity. Then we also have the age-old limitation of lines and surfaces on objects not being detailed enough. This severely hinders your reaction time, since you are unable to distinguish between bumps and potholes, and have to rely entirely on the commands of your co-driver. On the opposite side of the spectrum are the weather effects. Rain falls realistically on the windscreen, and will eventually dam up on track. The dynamic weather effects are less intense, but adds an element of realism.
On the plus side again, WRC 8 has an excellent career mode. It starts the player off by guiding them through the basics of picking events on a calendar, and then racing through these events. You can either begin as a Junior WRC or WRC 2. When you aren’t racing, you’ll need to manage your schedule, your team, and the relationship with your car manufacturer. Personally, I didn’t care much for these managerial components. Fortunately, the Seasons mode allows you to simply play rallies without any of these distractions. There is also a skill tree where you can spend XP to unlock benefits such as decreased turnaround times in races and bigger cash prizes. Players familiar with Codemasters’ F1 2019 skill tree will find this familiar. There are also Single events, online, and weekly events to keep you busy. Also crucial is the training area wherein players can come to grips with WRC 8‘s handling.
Overall, WRC 8 is a very fun game with lots of potential. Unfortunately it is slightly let down by the lack of polish. Nonetheless, Kylotonn is gradually establishing themselves as a serious contender for developing racing games.