WRC 9 Next Gen Review: Thrill ride only heightened by new tech

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It takes a special kind of crazy to go rally driving, but thanks to WRC 9 you can do it from the comfort of your home.

Originally released on Xbox One & PS4, we love WRC 9 for its deep career mode and unrelenting challenge.

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Now that next-gen consoles have arrived, Nacon has given the game more than just a touch-up. WRC 9 takes full advantage of everything next-gen has to offer.

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DualSense is a revelation

Off-road racing is notoriously hard to get right on a gamepad. With huge steering changes, throttle, brake, and gearing inputs needed to go fast, along with synergy with the car, it's nearly impossible to get it right for pad players.

WRC 9 did a good job of translating the experience to a pad, but for PS5 players it's a whole other level.

We knew the DualSense controller could change the way racing games play, but now we know!

On the DualSense WRC 9 is a glorious game.

THE REAL DEAL: On PS5 this game comes alive like never before
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THE REAL DEAL: On PS5 this game comes alive like never before

Not only does the haptic feedback let you feel exhaust blips and every little individual bump in the stage surface, but the adaptive trigger are a complete game-changer.

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You can feel the difference in the brake and throttle triggers immediately, and that difference progresses and changes as you drive.

The brake becomes heavier as tyre grip drops or wheels lock, the throttle changes as the car takes a beating.

Not only that but the 3D audio really lets you hear everything, giving you a better sense of when to change gear or how broken up the surface is becoming.

Silky-smooth graphics aids gameplay

The next-gen power gets the game up to 60 fps and 4K, if you have a monitor that can handle it.

As a result the racing becomes all the more precise and rewarding.

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FULL GLORY: The scenery is stunning, but don't get too distracted!

You can be more accurate with your car placement and see the on-coming rocks and trees more easily.

It's still a tough challenge to be fast in WRC 9, but one that feels more achieveable with the next-gen improvements in graphics and visuals.

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What if I'm on a wheel?

Most rally racing is done with a wheel, and as a result the improvements are limited. You of course benefit from those super-fast load times and better graphics. The racing itself is mostly the same, that sensational thrill-ride of weaving through forests and clinging to the edge of cliffs. It's still a joy to race.

However, the undoubted selling point of this game is the remarkable quality of it's pad play on PS5.

We have found ourselves stepping out of the bucket seat and picking up the controller, because unless your sim rig is really high quality, you can feel the road more through the controller, even if you can't necessarily make those mirco-adjustments you need to.

Verdict

We've tried the game on both Xbox Series X and PS5, and it's still the engaging, challenging, and rewarding rally experience that it was on initial release.

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The improvements are what we have come to expect from games going up to next-gen, but with that awesome utilisation of the DualSense controller.

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The fact that this is now a pad-friendly rally game is pretty remarkable given its quality when you step behind the wheel. Those two don't usually mix, but Nacon has discovered a recipe that others will surely want to get hold off.

It's a winner for us.

RacingGames Rating: 9.5/10