WRC 5 FIA World Rally Championship Review

Richard Walker

It's been a while since I last played a properly good rally game. WRC 5 might be one of the better ones I've played since Codemasters' Colin McRae series transformed into DiRT and eventually left behind the idea of retaining rally driving as the game's primary raison d'etre. Based upon the official FIA World Rally Championship, WRC 5 has all of the requisite licenses, including official drivers, teams and cars, although the stages are the imaginings of French developer Kylotonn Games.

Not that it matters. WRC 5 has all of the hallmarks you'd expect from a rally game, with a lovely collection of speedy hatchbacks and three levels of competition to battle through in the game's Career Mode. Alternatively you can hit up the Quick Rally or Quick Stage mode to take on one stage or a single rally with whatever time of day and weather conditions you like. Beyond the game's Rally School, engaging in a Quick Rally or Stage is the perfect way to master the handling and the properties of each surface you'll face.

Dust cloud, ahoy!

Things start off fairly tough in Career amid the snowy climes of Monte Carlo, as you cut your teeth in the J-WRC, earning your rally stripes before advancing to WRC-2. Teams will offer you contracts, each of which promote a certain mentality and way of driving, so you're encouraged to pick a crew that's best suited to your play style. It's a neat touch that ensures you don't simply plump for the team with the nicest car or the livery with the prettiest colours. Your strategy and driving style actually matters.

Your team's morale is also dictated by your performance, which in turn determines the efficiency of repairs between stages. A higher level of morale means you'll be able to fit in more repairs during the 45-minute time limit and consequently do better in the ensuing rally stages. It's all rather deep and intricate, and differs from team to team, adding another layer of strategy to the game beyond tuning your car for the right surfaces and what not. Ultimately, however, it all boils down to how well you can throw your car around each point-to-point route, and that's easier said than done.

Once you're hurtling through the misty forests of Finland in near-pitch darkness, you'll get what WRC 5 is all about as you slide around on the loose gravel and mud. Kylotonn's game is forgiving to a point, but soon ups the ante once you graduate beyond the relative ease of the J-WRC. Make it to the WRC proper, and you'll find wrangling each car a major challenge, in a good way. I played the game on hard difficulty with few assists, but couldn't make the jump to simulation mode, where manual gears and zero assists is the order of the day.

Should the WRC-2 and WRC cars prove too much of a handful, you can always turn stability and braking assistance on, while knocking the difficulty down a notch or two grants you more restarts and snapshots. The former gives you a limited number of attempts at restarting an entire stage, whereas the latter acts like a flashback of sorts, enabling you to simply retry a section of a stage that you might have buggered up. And sometimes the handling can be incredibly challenging, demanding a great deal of concentration and some help from your co-driver with their pace notes.

Trees and tarmac!

Thankfully, the achievement list is nice and straightforward, with the most demanding tasks involving winning a rally at every one of WRC 5's locations around the globe. The online achievements are challenging too, but for all of the wrong reasons. On Xbox One, I didn't manage to get a single multiplayer race underway, which doesn't bode well when no one's playing the game online.

We did manage to get a full 8-player rally going on PS4, and found racing against multi-coloured ghost cars incredibly distracting. As online racing experiences go, it's not the most enjoyable and sometimes verges on being utterly miserable. On the rare occasion that you do get into an online lobby, you have to wait for every player to hit the 'ready' button, otherwise you're stuck interminably, which is annoying. Overall, we'd recommend giving WRC 5's online mode a wide berth in its current state, unless you're able to set up a match with friends.

WRC 5 is a solid rally title that's marred only by a somewhat choppy frame rate and a slight lack of connection between your car and the surface upon which you're driving. Otherwise, Kylotonn's rallying title is a decent racer and well worth picking up if you're lamenting the lack of good rally games in recent years. Striking a balance between enjoyable handling and the level of challenge, WRC 5 ultimately succeeds in being good, dirty fun, and a damn fine rally racer.

WRC 5 FIA World Rally Championship

A decent rally title, WRC 5 has its issues, but none of them are game-breaking. The online mode might be severely lacking, but the single-player experience is fully-formed, with Career Mode, Quick Rally and Quick Stage modes offering plenty of solo enjoyment. If you're after a good rally racer, look no further.

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Nice menu music, throaty engine noises, fierce crackling exhaust sounds, superb, if slightly annoying co-driver voices. WRC 5 sounds just like it should.


WRC 5's cars look nice, but the environments are a little inconsistent and in some cases, rather sterile and static. The frame rate is a bit shaky too, and some very, very minor screen tear sometimes rears its head on rare occasions.


An enjoyable and nicely challenging rally game that can sometimes be a little bit frustrating, WRC 5 is solid. The online experience is practically non-existent on Xbox One, however, which is a shame.


All of the meat and vegetables you'd expect from a racing game with no extra frills. You've got Career Mode, Quick Rally, Quick Stage, Rally School, online and local multiplayer for up to 8-players, and that's your lot. Again, solid.


Just the right amount of challenge and spread, WRC 5's list covers all of the right ground without being too difficult. A fine achievement list.

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