Review | WRC Generations
Nacon has been publishing rather satisfying games based on the exciting world of WRC, such as WRC 10 last year which I personally reviewed at the time. This, however, is their last year with the licensing in place to publish games for the biggest rally championship in the world, before Codemasters and Electronic Arts take their turn starting next year. So Nacon’s objective is clear: try and deliver the definitive version of their WRC formula, building off the great foundations set by prior games, including as much content as possible from the prior titles and tweaking some of the overall experience. Is WRC Generations the ultimate rally experience by Nacon? Let’s find out!
Let’s get any eventual confusion out of the way first: what is WRC Generations exactly? Since WRC 5 back in 2015, French studio Kylotonn took the license after the Milestone years, improving on their simcade rally formula on a yearly basis. It culminated, so far, with last year’s WRC 10, which had the most convincing handling thus far, an improved career mode and much more. The World Rally Championship license for the next years is owned by Electronic Arts however, so the developers of this era of WRC games wanted to say goodbye with a final game that attempts to compress as much content as possible from all prior games (though obviously with updates), the best physics model to date, a lot of QoL updates, crossplay and more – all at a reduced price point, due to the fact the game intentionally wants to be a more iterative and not so much transformative of an update.
Indeed, when the game was revealed and shown for the first time, I was a tad confused myself. Looking at the UIs, the career mode, the training modes, the menus, the graphics… they could have fooled me, almost everything seemed virtually identical to WRC 10. Visually, too: the game’s graphics haven’t really changed since last year, which puts WRC Generations quite a number of laps behind the competition on a technical level. But as soon as the player sits inside the virtual cockpit of these epic rally cars, it all changes. I praised WRC 9 and 10’s more arcade-y approach, allowing the driver to improvise a lot during corners, dosing brake and acceleration to somehow get through corners that were perhaps taken a bit too courageously. WRC Generations’ approach is the opposite – the cars weigh a lot.
Stick to your line
Nacon’s new title, in fact, seems to push players towards committing to whatever speed and line they chose entering a corner, making the typical voiced navigation and the little icons for turns that pop up on top of the screen even more important. In a much more realistic fashion, it’s no longer possible to divebomb into turns, with players required to lose speed pretty early into the corner entry, as the wheels will slide on the mud, snow, asphalt (or whatever covers the turn), risking falling off into a ditch or crashing into a wall. Preferably a wall, considering the game’s damage system still feels inconsistent – sometimes the suspension will break by putting a single wheel into a ditch, other times the car suffers no consequence after slamming into the wall at pretty high speeds – something that can be abused immensely.
This revised driving model takes some getting used to, but it makes every corner feel a lot more tense – in the end, rally should be like that. A big change to the driving model of some cars this year is the presence of 2022’s hybrid cars, introducing an extra element of strategy given by the electric component of the engine. As Codemasters’ F1 games’ players may probably already correctly guessed, the extra power here is regenerated during braking, and then it can be used freely as an extra boost of speed where the player finds it most effective – preferably a fast section if not a long straight. The weight management and general handling of these brand new Rally1 cars proves to be an interesting challenge, but purists shall fear not: there’s dozens of other cars from this year and prior seasons alike.
Much to do
Indeed, the amount of content seems to be one of the core ideas behind this final installment of Nacon’s WRC venture. With over 750 kilometers of unique stages, dozens of cars and teams via a large selection of styles, there’s certainly a lot to drive and to drive on. As mentioned, the heart of the single player experience doesn’t really change: the career allows more or less the same options as before, putting the players in the shoes of a team manager and a driver alike, allowing them to hire technicians, spend on improvements of the car and the factory alike, on top of organizing tests, sponsor events and of course driving the actual rally races themselves. Naturally, time attacks, free races and so on are also back.
The real news would be in the online segment, however. Players can now create clubs for friends to join in. There’s a new Leagues Mode, which is effectively a ranked competitive mode with a ladder to climb through increasingly difficult real-life opponents. This happens via seasonal events the players can only try a fixed number of times, with then a ranking set based on the best times – this is, naturally, to avoid having players prevail simply because they grinded the same track for a hundred hours. And if you’re afraid of a low playerbase, fret not: the game is guaranteed to have quite some legs with crossplay among all versions of the title, both for its multiplayer segment and the leaderboards! Lastly, the game’s fairly dated graphics do allow the game to have a performance mode at 60 frames per second at a lower resolution, or a 30fps one targeting 4K. Needless to say, as it’s a driving game, I suggest the former, though even there the game feels a little choppy at times.
WRC Generations upgrades the general feel of Nacon’s yearly rally experience, tweaking the physics, handling, and smartly recreating the new challenges of the hybrid cars that are racing in the real-life series this season. The lower than usual price point is certainly very inviting, but it’s caused by the fact the game contains very little new content, with even the UIs, the career and practice tracks being virtually unchanged. There’s still a bit of “jank”, and the game is far from the best-looking racers out there, but WRC Generations offers a compelling middle ground between arcade and simulation rally, with a robust enough online and ranking system to push virtual drivers towards perfection for months to come. And now we wait for Codemasters’ first WRC game…
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||3rd November, 2022 (on Xbox, PlayStation and PC), 1st Decmber 2022 (Nintendo Switch)|
|Rated||ESRB E for Everyone, PEGI 3+|