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WRC Generations, Review

I am a massive Rally Motorsport fan, both IRL and in video games. Colin McRae Rally on the PSOne is still one of my all-time favourite video games. In recent years, Rally fans have only had two IPs to choose from.  ‘Dirt’ from Codemasters and the official “WRC” titles from Kylotonn (KT) Games. But with EA swallowing up Codemasters last year, and then taking the “WRC” licence from Kylotonn from 2023 onwards. 2022s WRC Generations is the last outing for the WRC franchise under KT. So, how did their WRC swansong stack up?

WRC Generations is like many of the officially licenced racing games. It has all the cars, teams and drivers for the current season. But with the ‘Generations’ title, you would rightly guess that notable cars and teams of the past also feature. As a result, I could drive the latest 2022 hybrid WRC cars with electric boost, but also drive cars from the overpowered 80s, like the 1985 Peugeot 205 T16. It’s a greatest hits compilation for a long-term rally fan like myself. Just awesome.

The first thing to address though is the all-important question…

How do the cars feel to drive?

Well, that’s complex. I use a driving rig with racing seat, Logitech G920 force feedback wheel, full pedals and sperate gearbox shifter. And with the games default control settings it felt…well terrible. The force feedback was wrong, vibration was too strong and the all-important linear sensitivity was miles off being accurate. I am not alone in this appraisal. A quick scan of Reddit shows countless threads of sim racers trying to find the right input settings for their wheels. I eventually settled on settings which made the wheel feel good and the cars controllable.

To answer the initial question above “how does it feel?”…after some changes, it felt great. But to be frank, the changes made where so far from what the ‘default’ settings were. I wonder if anyone at KT Racing even tested the game with a wheel!

The basic game model of the WRC titles has been consistent and hasn’t changed greatly in 2022s Generations. The well-trodden player modes return- solo one-off events, competitive rally multiplayer and a career mode. I have always been drawn to the career mode in most driving games. So, this is where I started. Essentially it is a very paired down version of the career modes in the bigger franchises out there, like F1 for example. 

Back to school time

Start in a junior grade, build a team and make money to advance…as well as win races. The actual UI for the Team Career mode is very simple and has zero narrative or ‘curve-balls’ to navigate. So, to class it as a Career Mode is a slight overstatement. It is essentially a glorified calendar with a series of minor events or trainings sessions to do, to build up the team numbers and abilities, leading into a full WRC Calendar event.

Generations has a team ‘skill tree’, which I really liked. It has an RPG vibe in fact, spending XP points to get advancements in certain areas of the team. Be it pit crew skills, weather forecasting, recruiting or more intangible assets like team morale. Trying to fill in the skill tree and reap its benefits is what pushed me on in the event calendar, more than the overall mode itself. My only real complaint, is that for someone who is a long-term Rally game fan. ie: I have played A LOT of Rally games over the years. I loaded up the Career Mode but to start with the lowly WRC Junior 2WD cars. The awesome WRC Hybrid teams are locked. I understand this is to slowly introduce players to the power of the full WRC cars, but I wanted to run a real WRC team and car, not grind my way through a junior tier team season.

After a rough start, WRC goes like a train

As mentioned, the game did not control well out of the gate, but after some tweaks I was away. The cars were suitably powerful and the sense of speed was excellent. The WRC Hybrids cars have the e-boost setup, so depending on the mode, extra power is delivered to the car from electric motors just like the real WRC cars. An awesome addition and well implemented in the game. All the stages from the 2022 season, as well as various historic and practice tracks, are beautifully made and look great. I was playing on an Xbox Series S at 1080p / 60fps and the game still sung. I must admit, a wee bit of tearing at speed, but not enough to break the experience. The snow levels in Norway were standouts both graphically and in design…but man, they are a little hard at speed. The snow banks are very unforgiving when you are flat out. 

The cars look great, with detailed factory liveries on all. The custom livery editor is impressive…for those who are in to that. Making liveries has never been my thing though, so I leave that to the ‘professionals’. Audio design is a nit-to-pick though. The cars sound great in “3rd person” view. Popping and cracking as I attack the track. But I use a wheel and prefer a cockpit or bonnet point of view. So when I went to that POV… all that great audio design disappeared!

The engine noise became this generic interior engine noise. Honestly, it was a old Toyota corolla sounding thing, just revving its tits off. There was none of the texture and violence Rally cars are famous for anymore. It is seriously disappointing.

Rally fans will want to know something else.

How does WRC generations stack up against Dirt Rally 2.0? I know it’s a 2019 game, but in the Rally community it is the flag barer of what a great Rally game should feel like. Simply put, WRC Generations is very, very close. I still think Dirt has a better ‘feel’, particularly around tyre to surface physics. I think WRC feels a tad too ‘slippy’ (that’s technical term) at times, but if Traction Control (TCS) is turned on the car becomes a loaf of bread on wheels, all heavy and slow. But, the difference is honestly negligable and very subjective.

WRC Generations is an awesome Rally package, one that KT Racing should be very proud of as their swansong from WRC. Many other games like, Forza Horizon feature “rally”, but it’s still just arcadie, power sliding chaos. Not proper Rally Sim racing. WRC Generations is for Rally offcinados, who love the challenge and the tension of travelling at 130km/per hr through narrow forrest tracks.

Basically, anyone who knows what a ‘Rally SSS’ is, should just buy this game. You’ll love it!