WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship (PlayStation 4) Review

By Josh Di Falco 16.12.2019

Review for WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship on PlayStation 4

WRC 8 is back for 2019, and developer Kylotonn has delivered their best dirt-rallying edition yet. With an improvement over the car physics and the driving, the developer has also crafted one of the more expansive season modes, with a full-crew management system, and skill-trees to improve car performance, as well as the crew members themselves. Being an officially licensed title, all of the tracks featured in the real-life 2019 season appear here, with Turkey and Chile being added to the slate, along with the official teams and drivers. There's no doubt that, from the outset, WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship looks to have improved from WRC 7 in almost every way, as it bridges the gap between this series and DiRT.

The car physics and game mechanics in WRC 8 take another step forward, as car control feels a lot more realistic then previous titles. Cars feel better to control, and there is a clearer difference between how they handle. 'Hitboxes' are also much more defined and predictable than in WRC 7, or Kylotonn's other dirt-racer V-Rally 4. When racing on the track, this time cutting corners or initiating minor bumps with the environment, produces consistent results, where in the past, hitting the same path twice would produce two different results.

Track surfaces have also improved, and this is thanks to the 'dynamic weather' system that has been brought into WRC 8. With dynamic weather, this means that rain can fall, or storms can roll around mid-race. Preparing for a race isn't as simple as picking the right tyres to match the weather condition, but one must now take into account a portion of the race that could be compromised with bad weather. Heavy rain fall can create puddles on the race tracks - and driving across a deep puddle at full pace can cause drivers to lose control of their cars. Tackling the same track during the day brings with it different strategies to wet weather racing, as puddles generally form in strategic spots on the track that can make beating lap times that much tougher. Storms can also limit visibility on the track, making the co-driver's navigational role that much more important.

Screenshot for WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship on PlayStation 4

Where the real meat of WRC 8 lies, is within the career mode, which has been refurbished to provide a more robust experience. Beginning in 'Junior WRC,' the aim is to slowly progress through the rankings and leagues into the higher tiers of the dirt-rallying championships. Part of what makes the career portion an exciting mode is that there is a crew management system in place. Hire a crew of up to 35 members that fill roles that are crucial to the team moving forward. Want to get the weather forecast for the upcoming race to be better prepared? Hire a meteorologist. Want to improve the speed of which cars are repaired during an event? Hire mechanics. Want more events to appear on the calendar to choose between? Hire an agent. Because crew members get fatigued after an event, it's vital to hire multiple members of each role, so that they can fill in at the next event while the others rest. There's even a physical therapist role that can be filled to assist the crew members to recover quicker from fatigue.

The calendar is filled with different events to take part in. In the early stages, there are only a couple to select from. However, by hiring a better agent, more events come into the fold. The calendar is broken up into 'blocks;' each one can be filled with any event that is offered. Choosing between a 'Training' drill for experience points or a 'Manufacturer's Tryout' to earn reputation with the manufacturer can become hard decisions as the rewards for both increases. 'Events' are the main multi-day races that impact on the leaderboards, while 'Historic Races' and 'Extreme Conditions' are fun diversions. The former features many classic cars, while the latter pits all the odds against the driver, with tough conditions, low visibility and a car that badly requires a mechanic. While these last two don't have any impact on the WRC rankings, they are great for cash and experience boosts, though it may come at a cost of missing a 'Manufacturer's Tryout.' Each of these events are varied and different to each other, and drivers have a choice if they don't like to perform in one of the events. For example, ditching all the 'Extreme Condition' events is an option for those who don't feel like pulling their hair out.

Screenshot for WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship on PlayStation 4

Forging a career from dirt-rallies relies heavily on completing enough 'Manufacturer's Tryouts' to bank enough reputation points with that manufacturer to be able to drive for them in the rally events. However, signing with a manufacturer isn't the end of it - there are seasonal goals that need to be completed for that manufacturer to retain faith in the driver and keep the reputation levels high. Plus, once a driver has signed with a manufacturer, other manufacturers can still offer their own challenges to earn rep on, which can sometimes test the patience of the current manufacturer. In addition to manufacturer goals, there are also short-term and long-term objectives that can be hugely rewarding with experience points. The goals are standard objectives based around completing events with specific tyres for example. Sometimes though, these objectives can be hugely contradicting - for example, a short-term and long-term objective both clashed with opposing tyres, so one of them was going to be a failed objective regardless of which tyre was chosen for the event.

Getting experience points is vital for career progression - WRC 8 comes with skill trees featuring across four disciplines. 'Team' and 'Crew' skills benefit the team as a whole, allowing for better events to appear, featuring higher prize pools, while reducing fatigue and increasing morale for all crew members. The crew's wage can be reduced to save money while mechanics can be upgraded to work faster and allowing for better repair results mid-event. 'Performance' and 'Reliability' are focused on the car itself, and these skill trees don't open until the driver has graduated from the 'WRC Juniors' league, and these focus on tyre management or headlight resistance for night racing to upgrades on aerodynamic kits, transmissions, gearboxes and more. With many nodes on the skill tree, drivers can configure and mould their driver and team to the shape that they desire - and everyone will be different. Prioritising the right skills that suit a driver's play style is the optimal way to go about, as is the case with many other titles that feature skill trees.

Screenshot for WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship on PlayStation 4

Moreover, gaining skill points was a frequent occurrence, and there was hardly any grinding needed. Simply choosing the events that had the biggest experience awards made attaining these upgrades much quicker. The experience and cash rewards sometimes have to be balanced out - for example, drivers may occasionally have to take the experience boost with the lower cash prize, or vice versa. After each event, new crew members are available for purchase to join the team, and this also means having to cut other workers who are no longer viable crew members. Crew members have their own skill levels - though managing them is simply a numbers game: sign those with higher skill levels and cut those at the bottom to make room for more members. Remember, there are only 35 crew member slots in the reserve in addition to the eight slots that get filled each event, and this can fill up quite quickly.

For those who just wish to take out the WRC championships without the bells and whistles of a career mode can still enjoy Season mode, which just features the events and removes all the team-based micromanaging and skill trees. Playing through season mode alone can be lacklustre for those who are seeking more content. 'Online modes' are stock standard formalities at this stage, with almost every racing title having these options. Go online, jump into a race against other players and take out the bragging rights. However, online lacks any meaningful progression systems so they mainly act as online exhibition matches. Those who wish to play WRC 8 locally will be happy to know that there is two-player split-screen racing available. While many may not rate this mode, this reviewer was delighted to see such a mode included, where other racing titles had chosen to omit this for... reasons.

Screenshot for WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

WRC 8 is a fantastic leap forward from WRC 7, with a revamped career mode for aspiring drivers to sign a team, manage crew members and level up skill trees to become the best team in the dirt-rallies. There are heaps to do in career mode, while the driving mechanics and racing physics get an upgrade as well. While this still retains the 'arcade' feel of racing, this is as fun as they come in terms of pure enjoyment from the thrill of tearing across dirt tracks, without track faults or graphical inconsistencies that hurt the previous titles. However, this does suffer from an "all eggs all in one basket" approach, in that there's not much in store here aside from career mode. If WRC 8 is the foundation of the franchise moving forwards, then it's safe to be anxious to see what Kylotonn has in store for the next title.

Developer

bigben Interactive

Publisher

Bigben Interactive

Genre

Driving

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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