EA Sports WRC Review

Richard Walker

If there's one thing that EA Sports WRC successfully drives home, it's that rally racing is hard. While DiRT Rally 2.0, Codemasters' last foray into rally simulation, wasn't exactly easy, it at least felt like you could muddle your way through a course and maybe record a half-decent time. By comparison, WRC takes no prisoners. Often, you're lucky to complete a rally stage at all, never mind beating the clock. For rally sim purists, Codies' uncompromising approach will delight, but for casual racing fans, WRC's high barrier to entry might prove to be a major turn-off.

Few concessions have been made to accessibility – WRC is utterly punishing, and 'fuck you if you don't like it' seems to be the overriding sense you're given when playing the game. There are assists, but they do little to help when you're sliding sideways off-course while trying to take an open hairpin, only to be landed with an egregious 30 second penalty. Within the blink of an eye, a lengthy course you might have been navigating with laser-focused precision, can be completely undone by a single error or lapse in concentration. At times, it feels downright cruel.

If ever there was a racing sim crying out for a time-rewinding flashback function, WRC is it. Seemingly, not having flashbacks somehow keeps the off-road racing pure, but in reality, you could argue that it takes something away from the experience. Granted, the DiRT Rally games did away with the flashbacks a long time ago, and even DIRT 5 (which Codies described as one of its 'fun' DiRT games) didn't have them, but my question is, why not have them? They can be a learning tool; a way of perfecting tricky curves and torrid hairpins, without having to restart an entire race from scratch. In a game as unapologetically challenging as WRC, it seems like a bit of an oversight.

Much has been made of the new Rally School in EA Sports WRC, which enables newcomers to get to grips with the intricacies of ragging a souped-up car across gravel, asphalt, and snow. But even these handy lessons, apparently designed to ease you in and teach the basics, can chew you up and spit you out. Hit a cone. That's a fail. Brake before the designated blue box at the end? Fail. Make one mistake? You won't make it to the end in time, so, yep, that's a fail. Also, I lost count of the number of times I'd be ripping along at speed, racking up a sweet time, only to fly off the edge of a cliff into a ravine. That's 'terminal damage', and your entire rally is effectively over. Well done.

And yet, WRC is clearly a fantastic rally game. It looks incredible, as many an Unreal Engine 5 game does, and it runs at a lovely, smooth lick, save for the occasional moment when the game will just hang for a split second – always helpful when you're racing along a wet surface at 100mph. Still, there's an in-depth Career mode to delve into, featuring an expansive calendar of events to tackle, alongside budget and personnel management – though, whether you have a successful season, of course, hinges upon your performance across WRC's rallies and special events, regardless of where you begin your career, be it the Junior WRC, WRC2, or full-fledged World Rally Championship proper.

You'll not only have to keep a financial Benefactor happy if you want continued funding for your racing endeavours, but you'll have staff and engineers who need a rest now and again, if you want to ensure they remain both efficient and content with their station. Between rally stages, you'll also have to decide which of your crumpled components you need fixed by your engineers, which costs valuable time and cash – having the best possible team of engineers will cost you more money, but it'll mean you can implement repairs faster without losing quite so many minutes and seconds.

Outside of a fairly straightforward Career offering, WRC's 'Moments' enable you to relive various scenarios – some real ones cherry-picked from rallying history, some fabricated. As relatively bitesized, single-stage events, these prove to be appealing, as you fight to win medals for the target times or position. The Moments inspired by real events are an interesting window into rally history, like Colin McRae having to get his dilapidated Subaru Legacy RS over the line during the 1992 Finnish rally. Chuck in Time Trials with times to both set and beat for leaderboard glory, asynchronous multiplayer in Clubs, online competition for up 32 players, Championship mode, Regularity Rally (tasking you with driving routes at a target average speed – speeding penalties, hurrah!), and the Builder, in which you can cobble together your very own rally car right down to the engine, exhaust, steering wheel, seats, wing mirrors, bodywork, and livery, and you have just about the most comprehensive rally game Codies has made yet.

Whether or not it's the best rally game around really depends upon your skill level or willingness to persevere if you're not initially quite up to the level that WRC demands. If it's a no-holds-barred rally racing challenge you seek, then EA Sports WRC will more than scratch that itch. But if you're expecting a casual, friendly race experience that holds your hand, then you simply won't find it here. EA Sports WRC wants to see you hair off the track into a ditch, before callously pointing and laughing at you. If you're willing to patiently put in the time and effort, though, you'll find something truly rewarding.

EA Sports WRC

Going all-in on realism, with the high level of difficulty that entails, Codemasters has outdone itself with EA Sports WRC, delivering a stern rally racing challenge that pulls absolutely no punches. If you've got the minerals, then this is the rally game for you.

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Each car's engine sounds suitably powerful and angry, buzzing with menace as you navigate WRC's stages. Pace notes come in thick and fast, too, with a choice of languages and voices. The menu music is perfectly okay.


A truly impressive looking rally game, with lovely vistas, a cracking damage model (switch on hardcore damage for the full effect), and a smooth frame rate (save for a rare instance where the game hangs, which will surely be patched out).


Enormously challenging (perhaps prohibitively so for more casual race fans), WRC can be hard work, but if you're willing to patiently put in the required time and effort, it's a rally experience that delivers in spades.


A deep, though somewhat straightforward Career mode, Moments, Time Trial, multiplayer, and the Builder offer a comprehensive rally package, brimming with customisation and stuff to do. Sadly, there's zero concession to racing fun seekers.


A handful of easy ones, a bunch of grind-based ones (get out of here with your 'drive 1,000 miles' bollocks, mate), and a lot that rely on actually being good at the game and putting in a consistent performance. It's a long and grinding road.

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