If you’ve been patiently waiting for DiRT Rally 3.0, stop right now. With developer Codemasters acquiring the FIA WRC licence in 2020, EA Sports WRC is essentially its successor.
Jump into any event in EA Sports WRC and you’ll soon have this affirmed. The physics here have been transferred from Codemasters’ DiRT Rally 2.0, giving you confidence to throw whichever car you’re in around the game’s large number of locations. Not only that, but they’ve been improved, too, especially when it comes to driving on tarmac, which now feels grippier. Needless to say, straight off the bat, EA Sports WRC feels better to play than any other rally game out there.
While it’s not quite the biggest rally game, EA Sports WRC is also on the large side when it comes to content. A whopping 17 locations are included, covering the latest official WRC season and more. So whether you have a certain affinity for Rally Sweden, Acropolis Rally Greece or Rally Japan, you’re more than catered for. Thanks to satellite mapping, the stages on offer in these locations are more authentic than ever before, too. In fact, keen rally fans might identify some stages that are impressively accurate in places.
In pursuit of realism, however, Codemasters has made a change that also impacts EA Sports WRC negatively. The EGO Engine has been ditched, with Unreal Engine used instead to allow for longer stages. The results are mixed. While it allows stages to be closer to their real life counterparts and the areas they exist in feel more expansive, it also means the visuals aren’t quite the step up you might expect. EA Sports WRC looks nice, sure, but it doesn’t impress considering it’s a current-gen only title.
Related: The Best Racing Games on PS5 (2023)
Playing EA Sports WRC on PS5 for review, what’s really disappointing is that there are technical and performance issues. Some of these have been smoothed out a little since launch, but you’ll still encounter frame rate drops on some stages as well as screen tearing. There’s the occasional bit of stutter, too, and some visual inconsistencies. None of this is game-breaking, but such issues are distracting in a game where just one lapse of concentration can result in an incident that takes you from first to last.
In terms of modes, EA Sports WRC has largely what you’d expect. Career mode pretty much falls in line with what has become the norm for racing games, but it feels basic in ways. From a calendar you can choose what type of activity you want to engage in week by week, whether it’s a major rally event, an invitational, or one of many team building activities. There is more of a focus on managing budgets, however, which adds a bit of a unique twist. Ultimately, while it does the job, it doesn’t feel as engaging as the career mode found in later WRC efforts by Kylotonn.
Outside of career mode, there are the usual companion modes such as Championship, Quick Play, Clubs and Time Trial. What’s missing, however, are the challenges found in DiRT Rally 2.0 that change on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. If, like us, you particularly liked these, it might come as a bit of a blow. Softening the impact a little is the introduction of Moments, a series of challenges that will be expanded periodically, offering a range of scenarios. Some of these are based on historic events, others simply inspired by them, and some completely fictional, but they’re fun to complete regardless.
EA Sports WRC is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, there’s no denying that this is the best rally game yet when it comes to authenticity and physics. It’s also pretty comprehensive, with a large number of locations complete with seasonal variations and a generous selection of cars. You can even build your own vehicles, which is somewhat rewarding. It’s just a shame that it’s dogged by technical issues, a career mode that feels a little ho-hum, and visuals that don’t truly impress. So, while EA Sports WRC is a solid effort, Codemasters still has work to do in order to deliver the definitive rally racer.