After last week’s teaser, EA has lifted the bonnet on its first WRC rally racer: EA Sports WRC.
Taking over from where KT Racing left off with last year’s WRC Generations, EA Sports WRC (no, it’s not called WRC 23 as many assumed) heralds a new era of WRC games developed by Codemasters, creators of the acclaimed DiRT Rally series and the original Colin McRae Rally games.
Coming to PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC this November, EA Sports WRC ushers in a new generation of rally games with physics adapted from DiRT Rally, a new Unreal graphics engine, and a comprehensive car builder that lets you build your own rally car.
Codemasters’ most authentic rally game yet
While DiRT Rally ran on Codemasters’ in-house EGO engine, EA Sports WRC will utilise Unreal Engine, bringing a generational leap in visual fidelity. This could mean it's only a matter of time before the F1 series adopts drops the EGO engine.
Since EA owns Codemasters, there were rumours that EA Sports WRC would be powered by EA’s Frostbite engine. While this will be Codemasters’ first game to utilise Unreal Engine, the physics are adapted from DiRT Rally.
Upgrading to Unreal Engine has enabled Codemasters to create longer and more detailed stages, with 18 official WRC stages and over 600km (370 miles) of unforgiving stages on asphalt, gravel, and snow. 12 of the 13 official WRC 2023 stages will be in EA Sports WRC at launch, with Central Rally Europe coming in a free post-release update.
EA Sports WRC boasts ten official WRC, WRC2, and Junior WRC cars from Ford, Toyota, and Hyundai. These include the new 4WD Rally1 hybrids introduced in last year's season Switching to electrified powertrains has resulted in some of the fastest cars in the sport’s history.
Kalle Rovanpera's Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid stars on the PS5 cover, with the Hyundai i20 and Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrids appearing on the Xbox and PC covers respectively.
Alongside the modern WRC cars, EA Sports Rally will feature 68 iconic rally cars spanning 60 years of the sport. Among the classic cars confirmed so far are legendary Lancia Stratos, Audi Sport quattro S1 Group B car, and Colin McRae’s iconic 1998 Subaru Impreza S4. This brings the total to 78 in the EA Sports WRC car list.
With the help of 2023 FIA European Rally Championship ERC3 champion Jon Armstrong, who served as a Game Designer for DiRT Rally 2.0, EA Sports WRC's new “Dynamic Handling System” is set to deliver the “most realistic off-road experience to date.”
Experienced players can choose a professional driver setup, while new players can personalise the handling to make the game more accessible. EA Sports WRC will also build on DiRT Rally 2.0’s exceptional audio design, with improved car sounds and new pace notes including simplified commands for rookie drivers.
Being an officially licensed WRC game, EA Sports must appeal to a broader range of players. These tweaks will hopefully make EA Sports WRC more accessible for new players than the DiRT Rally games, which are notoriously difficult.
Car builder confirmed
One of the most intriguing EA Sports WRC rumours doing the rounds pointed to a new car builder. These rumours were true.
EA Sports WRC introduces a new Builder mode that lets you build your own modern-era car from scratch. Players select the chassis, body shells, and mechanical components before customising the interior and exterior. A livery editor lets you personalise your car before putting it through its paces and competing for the top spot in the WRC.
Cross-platform multiplayer will also be supported for up to 32 players. F1 23’s Race Replays, a new Moments mode will let players relieve “pivotal scenarios from the 2023 season alongside classic events from the sport’s archives” in daily challenges.
“EA Sports WRC is the purest form of motorsport where every stage is a fight against the clock, the terrain, and yourself,” said Ross Gowing, Senior Creative Director at Codemasters.
“This is the rally game we’ve always wanted to make, combining our studio’s deep knowledge and expertise with the power of the official WRC license representing the pinnacle of rally motorsport. The game’s new engine has enabled us to push rally to the edge of what’s deemed possible, and the additional features, including Builder and Moments, give players even more ways to interact with the sport they love.”
We also now have a release date for EA's inaugural WRC game.
EA Sports WRC powerslides onto PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via EA App, Epic Store, and Steam on 3 November 2023. Unlike F1 23, EA Sports WRC won't be released on PS4 and Xbox One.
However, players who preorder EA Sports WRC will receive up to three days of early access starting 31 October along with five VIP passes. These passes will add post-launch content and vanity packs featuring liveries and apparel.
A five-year deal sees Codemasters helm the official WRC game series between 2023 and 2027. However, the lack of a year in the title makes us wonder if WRC will become a live service series going forward.
For more articles like this, take a look at our WRC page.