F1 23 is stealing the spotlight right now, but it’s easy to forget there’s another licensed motorsports game from Codemasters and EA on the horizon: WRC 23.
After Kyltonn’s seven-year stint concluded last year with WRC Generations, Codemasters has secured the official WRC game license as part of a five-year deal. Its first WRC game is due to arrive this year, but despite several leaks, WRC 23 still hasn’t broken cover.
Platforms are yet to be confirmed, but WRC 23 is reportedly skipping PS4 and Xbox One consoles, releasing exclusively on PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC only.
WRC 23 skipping PS4 and Xbox One
Spotted by YouTube channel AutySim, the official WRC Factbook 2023 says WRC 23 is coming to PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC, with no mention of PS4 or Xbox One. Codemasters and EA have yet to confirm this, but a recent datamine leak also suggests WRC 23 will be a current-gen-only game.
Furthermore, senior creative director Ross Gowing was quoted in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz last year saying Codemasters is working to “define the future of rally on PC and the latest generation of consoles,” again implying that WRC 23 will leave old consoles behind.
This is a welcome move. Unlike WRC 23, F1 23 is still heading to PS4 and Xbox One as well as PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC. This is holding the game back, as F1 23 will still run on the old EGO engine that’s powered every F1 game since F1 2015. However, the F1 games likely have a much larger player base than WRC, so EA will want to maximise sales on all formats.
Notably, WRC 23 also seemingly isn’t coming to Nintendo Switch. If not, this will be the first time a WRC game hasn’t been released on Nintendo’s hybrid console since WRC 7 in 2017. This isn’t surprising given the poor reception of WRC’s Switch ports.
This won’t be the first EA-published racing game to skip PS4 and Xbox One though, as last year’s Need for Speed Unbound was also current-gen only.
Setting a new benchmark for rally simulations
WRC 23 skipping PS4 and Xbox One may reduce sales, but it’s ultimately the right move for the series. Nearly three years after the release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles, we’re finally starting to see developers move away from cross-generation releases.
By maximising resources for current-gen platforms, WRC 23 promises to be a significant step forward for rally games. Kylotonn’s WRC games steadily improved with every iteration, but Codemasters’ rally game pedigree is unrivalled, having popularised console rally games with Colin McRae Rally back in 1998.
Being published by EA also means WRC 23 will likely have a bigger budget and reach a wider audience.
EA clearly has high hopes for WRC 23. According to the WRC Factbook, WRC 23 will set a “new benchmark for authentic, challenging rallying on next-generation gaming platforms.” It also claims WRC 23 will be the “most accurate representation of rallying available” and focus on “repeated play and an accessible learning curve for new players.”
This should ease concerns from fans that WRC 23 will be an arcade rally racer. From the official factbook's descriptions, it sounds like it will retain the depth and realism of DiRT Rally 2.0 while offering a suite of accessibility options to lower the difficulty for new players.
Ditching last-generation consoles will help WRC 23 reach its full potential, offering new levels of fidelity (potentially with a new game engine originally planned for the cancelled DiRT Rally 3), more accurate stage designs and realistic driving physics. Let's hope it paves the way for F1 24 to finally get an engine upgrade and ditch PS4 and Xbox One.
We don’t have an official release date yet, but a datamine leak last month suggests WRC 23 will launch on 28 July 2023. A Champions Edition will reportedly provide access three days earlier on 25 July. This is earlier than usual - Kylotonn’s WRC games typically arrived in September at the earliest and November at the latest.
An official announcement could be imminent. If WRC 23 is coming in July, we expect a reveal trailer to drop just before or after F1 23 launches next week.
After launch, the Factbook confirms the WRC esports series will continue in WRC 23, running alongside the official WRC Championship.
Rumours also suggest WRC 23’s new career mode will let you build your own rally car from the ground up, starting with choosing a drivetrain and engine position before installing components such as the gearbox, clutch, radiator, suspension, brakes and exhaust.
For more on WRC 23, check out five features we want to see in Codemasters’ WRC debut.
For more articles like this, take a look at our WRC page.