After months of speculation, EA Sports WRC was announced last week with a November release date confirmed. EA’s first official WRC game sees DiRT Rally creator Codemasters take over the helm from KT Racing, ushering in a new generation of rally racing.
A car builder mode is one of EA Sports WRC’s headline new features. This new mode allows you to build a rally car from scratch, choosing the chassis, body shell, and mechanical components. However, the most surprising revelation is the new engine under the bonnet that powers EA Sports WRC.
Say goodbye to the Codemasters EGO engine
Since F1 2010, the in-house EGO engine has underpinned every Codemasters racing title, including the DiRT Rally games. However, EA Sports WRC is the first Codemasters game to ditch the EGO engine in favour of the Unreal Engine.
As EA Sports WRC game designer and 2023 FIA European Rally Championship ERC3 Jon Armstrong explains in the first episode of EA’s The Racing Line show, switching to Unreal Engine has enabled Codemasters to create longer and more detailed stages than before.
“We knew when we got the WRC license that we would have a lot of locations to make, and we really wanted to push the boundaries of the stage’s length,” Armstrong explained.
“We have really long stages. We have stages that are 30 kilometres in length, which is super, super long. I think in a Rally1 car, it takes you 20 minutes plus to complete, so it’s a big challenge.”
That’s a significant increase from DiRT Rally 2.0. One of DiRT Rally 2.0’s shortcomings was the short stage lengths. At around 13km (eight miles), the longest stages take under ten minutes to complete. With significantly longer stages, EA Sports WRC will provide a more challenging and authentic rally experience that will push players to the limit.
At launch, EA Sports WRC will feature eighteen locations and over 200 stages. Twelve of the thirteen WRC stages will be in EA Sports WRC at launch, with the with the Central Rally Europe coming in a free update after launch.
“It’s been a challenge but a rewarding one. Everyone is making an effort to make it happen, and we’re starting to see the results.”
Time will tell if EA Sports WRC’s new engine leads to Codemasters’ F1 series switching to Unreal Engine in the future.
EA Sports WRC will use DiRT Rally's physics
While the engine under the bonnet is brand new, EA Sports WRC’s driving physics are adapted from DiRT Rally. This could be a blessing and a curse. DiRT Rally’s off-road driving physics are sublime, but the asphalt physics never felt natural.
However, Codemasters assures that EA Sports WRC is “all about realism” and “a sim racing title first and foremost.”
“We made sure to keep it realistic. We were able to bring across the DiRT Rally 2.0 handling model into Unreal,” Armstrong explains. “Our focus has been on building what we had and making it better and improving in areas that we wanted to improve. If you’re a fan of DiRT Rally, this will feel quite natural to you. It’ll be a step further and something you’ll really enjoy.”
For players who want the most realistic experience, EA Sports WRC will let you use car setups used by professional rally drivers. Numerous assists are also available for players new to rally games, as well as simplified pace notes.
The realistic pace notes are number-based, with calls like “three right into four left,” indicating the severity of the corner. On the other hand, simplified calls are more like Sega Rally and easier to understand for new players, with calls like “easy left” and “easy right.”
“We’ve got the returning assists that we had for DiRT Rally and a couple of new assists as well. But the fundamental part of the model is what we’ve always done with our DiRT Rally days, and we just tried to make it even better.”
Additionally, Armstrong confirmed five new cars coming to EA Sports WRC. Joining the EA Sports WRC car list are the Ford Fiesta Rally3, Ford Fiesta MK8 Rally4, Citroen Xsara WRC, and Colin McRae R4. Notably, this is the first time the R4 has been seen in a rally game since DiRT 3 in 2011.
For more articles like this, take a look at our WRC page.