EA Sports WRC PS5 Review – What you have to remember now is that EA own Codemasters. Codemasters were always famed for great games like the Colin McRae series which then became DiRT after the tragic loss of Colin. Their history in rally games as far as I’m concerned is one steeped in greatness, so I was pretty confident installing EA Sports WRC that I was going to be driving into a solid Rally game.
EA Sports WRC PS5 Review – Shakedown
Rally games have always been a favourite of mine it’s safe to say and it is nice to get back into the familiar feel of the handling mechanics that I am used to with Codemasters games. Yes, it is 4 years since DiRT Rally 2.0 but those physics worked. Codemasters have dispensed with its proprietary Ego technology in favour of Unreal Engine, in theory allowing more detailed visuals and stages over 30 kilometres in length.
All of the 2023 WRC season’s rallies are represented, (the Central European Rally arrives as a free, post-release DLC), with the drivers, teams and liveries of the WRC, WRC2 and Junior WRC classes included which adds up to a rather impressive 78 cars and 200+ stages.
Obviously, we have the career mode, which is pretty standard, but what I did like was the addition of being able to design your own rally car. I don’t mean that you get to design the livery, I mean that the team at Codemasters have allowed us to build a rally car from the ground up. This new addition allows players to construct a Rally1, Rally2 or Rally3 car from scratch, choosing the location of the engine and selecting from numerous cosmetic and mechanical components, with better parts unlocked during the game’s career mode.
There are online modes like Clubs where you can set up and enter online rallies using EA’s companion Racenet app. Moments, where you take on curated rally scenarios aiming for the fastest time on the leaderboard. The Moments section is quite fun, they have taken on both real-world scenarios as well as “What if” moments with the promise of more being added to the list in the future.
From the main menu of the game, you can customise your avatar, pick your favourite car from the history of the WRC and access the Builder mode that I mentioned above to design your own rally car.
EA Sports WRC PS5 Review – Hitting the stages.
It is, of course, the Career mode where you will spend most of your time in the game. From here you can elect to begin in one of the three classes of Rally. There is plenty to get your head around in the career mode.
Each week you have various choices you can make; whether to compete in a Rally, give your staff a well-deserved rest so they can perform at their best or to add more staff to the roster. These all intertwine with each other. Have to many staff and you will go over your budget, have too few staff so that you can’t alternate during Rally stages, and they will become tired and not be able to perform their tasks with the car.
It is only possible to make one choice per week, so you have to be careful what you do. Budgets luckily are generous for the most part, so being able to get your hands on a Group B Audi Quattro S1 Evo 2 for instance won’t break the bank. What will break the bank though is repairs during the Rally stages. Let’s be honest, if you are anything like me your car will be off the road more than on it finding every single ditch and tree that line the courses!
EA Sports WRC PS5 Review – Tech time
The sound within the game is scarily accurate. Take the iconic 95 Subaru Impreza out on course and if you are a fan of the cars, you will know exactly what I mean, and it never misses a beat from the engine note to the exhaust sound.
Something that was missing in DiRT Rally 2.0 is a photo mode. Thankfully, borrowing elements from The F1 series of games, we now have it. Take the photo below… I am no expert when it comes to taking photos on screen with the game (I’d rather shoot real life), but I tried to get a shot whilst I was running on a dirt stage. Even 30 seconds after I had passed over the track in the background, the dust thrown up from the car was still hanging heavy in the air.
I am used to games throwing up dirt and dust directly behind your car, but not hanging in the air like it does here. Graphics have definitely increased here as far as I’m concerned. Whilst on the subject of graphics though, one thing I don’t really think has improved much is the damage to the cars you sustain. It feels and looks like old mechanics have been incorporated; the same ones that have been used for the last 10 years if not longer.
Another fresh addition is regularity rallies; rallies focusing on a specific time of arrival rather than a battle against the clock. They do add a new dimension to the point-point format. It lacks the immediate excitement of standard rally though.
For most people though, the way the game handles when driving will be the major factor. Luckily the game feels remarkably similar to DiRT Rally 2.0 and that for me is a good thing. It has a slightly arcade feel to the handling rather than precision to it. That isn’t a bad thing although it may sound it.
Driving on gravel feels a lot better than in previous games and the cars need to be hustled to go fast and thrown into corners, the major problem comes on tarmac roads. It doesn’t feel like the car grips the surface like it should and feels floaty. You can’t sense the weight of the car on this surface as you can with others, and you find yourself making constant steering adjustments to correct your line.
Another issue I found is that sometimes your co-driver can struggle to keep up with the pace. I could be halfway through a corner that they were yet to tell me about. This is because stages can be extremely twisty with corner after corner being thrown at you in quick succession. I found it best to just go with my gut instincts rather than listen to instruction.
EA Sports WRC PS5 Review – Finishing Strong?
EA Sports WRC is a Rally Buffs dream. With its authentic line up of Rally cars to the sounds of the engines. A long career mode and expansive stages will draw in a lot of fans both new and old alike. The game does suffer from some performance drops that I noticed, but nothing major to spoil the fun. EA and Codemasters have said that stability upgrades will be on the way so at least they are aware.
With those issues aside, what we have here is a worthy successor to the DiRT franchise. When everything clicks in the game it is an absolute dream to play. It is safe to say that this is easily the best Rally game for a long time