Returning to the WRC franchise, Bigben has once again employed the services of Kylotonn Games for WRC 8. It’s out now for PS4, Xbox One and PC – with a Switch version coming a little later. We checked out the console version for this review.
It’s been two years since the release of WRC 7, but a lot has happened for developer Kylotonn. They were acquired by Bigben last year, which also marked their release of the V-Rally reboot V-Rally 4. It wasn’t quite as good as their WRC games though, which made us curious about how WRC would return after a two year hiatus.
I was happy to see that the two year wait wasn’t in vain, as besides the usual refinements WRC 8 also features an excellent new weather system and major changes to the career mode that move the game beyond just the racing portion of it all. Some things haven’t changed though, and Kylotonn’s approach to rally racing is still more arcade-like and accessible than what you get with Codemasters’ rally titles. And for some, that is exactly what you want if you feel like Dirt Rally veers too much to the sim side of things.
WRC 8 is even welcoming to newcomers, allowing you to start in the junior leagues before venturing on and using fewer and fewer driving aids in the process. There’s a great learning curve here, and it makes the game a good stepping stone if you’re considering eventually moving to a more sim-like experience.
Where WRC 8 also pleasantly surprises, especially after the release of Dirt Rally 2.0, is in the amount of content it offers. While Codemasters offered a great driving model, it was notoriously low on content and Kylotonn doesn’t make the same mistake with over twice that amount of rally races available at launch. There is also a large roster of different cars to choose from, including some classic models.
As mentioned, the career mode also received a big update this time around, and there is a lot more emphasis on team management. Doing well in races allows you to invest in your team, hiring crew members who are at the top of their game to help you along. Not getting those top finishes? Then you need to more carefully consider your financial move due to a limited budget. The campaign mode also offers a lot of chances for optional challenges that let you test our different cars and scenarios, which is both fun in terms of diversity and helps with your learning curve.
Playing though the career mode, you’ll inevitably run into the game’s new weather system as well. Driving in rainy or cold weather is nothing new, but in WRC 8 Kylotonn is now letting drivers experience what it’s like when conditions suddenly take a turn in the middle of an event. What kind of weather (changes) you’re expecting should affect your car’s configuration as well, and gambling and/or playing around with it is a great new addition. It’s especially fun in split screen multiplayer, which the game also supports – take two different loadouts onto the track and see who gains the upper hand and where.
This makes WRC 8 feel like a return to form for Kylotonn after the so-so release that was V-Rally 4. The two year break didn’t bring a major visual upgrade with it, but it’s the best WRC title to come out of the studio so far.