WRC 6 Review – Licensed Rally Racing (PS4)
Despite serving a very specific niche, the rally racing scene has never been more competitive in gaming. Dirt Rally is taking realism to a new high point (to the point where it’s alienated some fans), Sébastien Loeb Rally Evo has the backing of the greatest rally racer of all-time, and WRC 6 is the only game that features the World Rally Championship license. All three titles offer something unique for rally fans, but can WRC 6 reign supreme with its familiar tracks and drivers?
The short answer is “no,” but that doesn’t mean that the Kylotonn developed racing game is a total waste of time. As mentioned before, Codemasters’ Dirt Rally is an incredible achievement in terms of simulation. No other rally game can rival it in terms of realism, but that praise does have a downside — its brand of gameplay simply isn’t fun for a lot of players that aren’t die-hard fans. That leaves an open space for WRC to fill, and with its recognizable roster and tracks, it’s prime to be the rally racing game for more casual fans.
Good for Beginners
In some ways, WRC 6 absolutely succeeds in being an accessible rally racing game. There’s a wide range of different difficulty options (and settings to change different driving aids), which means players can be competitive against the computer from the very beginning. On top of this, the game’s lengthy career mode has players going through the World Rally Championship ranks, while starting off in the Junior division. Identical to its real-life counterpart, these cars are all of the same specifications, and it ensures an equal playing field for beginning drivers. This works well to ensure that new players won’t be overwhelmed by the various car configuration options that are introduced later on (such as making sure your car is optimized for gravel instead of tarmac tracks).
Where the game fails is in how it doesn’t teach the player the basics of rally racing, a sport that is dependent on cooperation between the driver and co-driver. For those not familiar with the sport, the driver takes direction from his co-driver, who notifies them of upcoming turns and how sharp they are. “Right 3,” might mean nothing to the average person, but to a rally driver it indicates the severity of a right turn. Other games have done a fantastic job of teaching these terms to players, and Dirt Rally had an incredible amount of co-driver options, where the player could tweak when they got the turns called out. Sadly, no tutorials or options exist here, and the co-driver voice is very robotic in its delivery.
The saving grace of the co-driver system is that the turn advice are also presented visually, and these graphics are very well done. For example, a hairpin turn sign will even include an example of what the upcoming turn looks like. While it’s not ideal that the player has to look at the top of the screen to get a good eye for what is coming ahead, it’s what I ended up relying on as I really didn’t like the co-driver audio.
As mentioned before, the career mode is where the bulk of the player’s time will be spent. It has players rising up the ranks of individual classes with the goal of ultimately getting to the WRC league. A rally season is composed of the player competing in 14 different rally events, which are each composed of several individual stages. These will take the player all across the world, as they race in Portugal, Finland, and many other countries. It’s ultimately a test of both endurance and consistency, as players will have to do well in each stage in order to have the best overall time and win a rally competition.
This essentially breaks the game down into a series of time trial races. So, while there isn’t the joy of speeding past a competing racer, there is the thrill of competing against the clock. The in-game racing generally feels good, and the cars are as responsive as one would expect. Since rally racing is about safety, learning the course and listening to the co-driver in your ear (or at the top of the screen) is definitely key to having a solid performance.
There are some undeniable rough edges to the game, though, and they really keep WRC 6 from being a top-notch racer. For one thing, the technical performance is straight up disappointing (especially when you consider that these issues weren’t fixed in time for the delayed North American launch of the game). From texture pop-in to screen tearing, I was consistently unimpressed with the game visually as I drove my car around bends. Another strange quirk is that I found the cockpit view to be hard to use due to the camera oddly sitting high inside the car. I could only see the upper half of my wheel, and it was centered in such an odd way that it was fun to look out of. I found the third-person view to be fine, but it’s a shame that I couldn’t enjoy the action from first-person.
Online play is also available for those that want to race against other players, but due to the nature of rally racing, it’s not like it enhances the experience greatly since you’re still just racing against the clock. It is cool to see the ghosts of other drivers in real-time as you drive the track, although I could see it also being a distraction for some. Other multiplayer modes include time-sensitive challenges and tournaments, where players can see how their driving matches up against others. It’s a cool addition, even if I found myself racing against the computer more often than not.
If you’re willing to overlook WRC 6‘s faults and are going to purchase the game, then know that the game costs far more digitally (an outrageous $69.99) than physically (a much more reasonable $49.96). This disconnect in pricing seems to be due to the physical version being distributed by Bandai Namco, while Bigben Interactive is credited as the publisher of the digital release. There’s really no way to justify spending a premium price on this game, so the digital pricing scheme is pretty gross to see.
WRC 6 offers up a decent alternative to Dirt Rally, specifically for fans that want a more forgiving take on the sport of rally racing, but there’s still a lot of room to improve. If the series really wants to be the rally game that most players flock to, it’ll need to offer up better tutorials, and teach players how to understand their co-driver. On top of that, there’s a general lack of polish (from technical issues to visual fidelity) that keeps the game a solid notch below the competition in its own racing niche. There’s still some fun to be had, but there’s far better racers on PlayStation 4.
Review code for WRC 6 provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.