First EA SPORTS WRC gameplay showcases seasons, stunning locations

Thomas Harrison-Lord
The stage design seems to knock it out of the park within EA SPORTS WRC, as more details emerge – however, the proof is always when going hands-on.
First EA SPORTS WRC gameplay showcases seasons, stunning locations

Following an initial reveal for EA SPORTS WRC, further information has been revealed. Gameplay has been shown for the first time in a preview video hosted by World Rally Championship journalist Molly Petit – who it transpires will also be a voice within the title.

We already know that it uses Unreal Engine for the graphics paired with an evolution of DiRT Rally 2.0’s physics for the car handling, plus the entire car list has previously been announced. But now we understand more about the included locations, driver assists and a first glance at the stages in use from a driver’s perspective.

The stage design steals the show

As it has been previously discussed, EA SPORTS WRC primarily makes use of the Unreal Engine, as opposed to developer Codemasters’ proprietary Ego, so that it can create bigger stages.

It will feature over 600km of unique roads and more than 200 stages. In theory, the longest stages are significantly larger than forebearer DiRT Rally 2.0’s longest effort of ~13km, over double the length in fact.

EA SPORTS WRC Unreal Engine location

Based on this video alone, each location looks distinct, and the stage-side scenery is detailed to the point of potentially being genre-leading. While the environments look expansive, some of the routes are also treacherously narrow.

Just check out those… erm, giant acorns? Oversized lychees? What are they?!

EA SPORTS WRC large lychees

As to their authenticity, it still isn’t clear if whole stages have been recreated one-to-one or just elements of real-world areas. Following the Fafe jump seen in the reveal trailer, Rally Monte Carlo’s Col de Turini has now also been showcased.

EA SPORTS WRC Col de Turini

Seasons

A season is a common parlance for some form of in-game XP system in contemporary gaming, and the included Rally Pass does indeed sound like one of those, but we’re discussing seasons within a year here with differing weather.

Spring, summer, autumn and winter are represented, in theory, then changing the stage-side plants and trees to match. You can see in the trailer one shot that cycles through the four seasons.

How these are utilised in the game through the career mode is yet to be seen, but we presume that when creating customised events in clubs, for example, you can toggle between the four options.

Dynamic Handling System

As is expected, Electronic Arts has doused game features with a soundbite-worthy nomenclature, for example, Precision Drive in F1 23 essentially meant the development team had made driving with a gamepad more straightforward.

Here we have the Dynamic Handling System, which for all intents and purposes means the DiRT Rally 2.0 simulation vehicle physics – which we enjoyed very much – but honed and in particular, said to be more rewarding on asphalt stages.

EA SPORTS WRC Kalle

That’s the premise, we hope to try EA SPORTS WRC soon to see if that’s the case.

Further assists have been added for those new to the sport, including traction control to reduce wheelspin, a throttle limiter to prevent drivers from getting on the gas too soon and stability control to stop overt sideways movements.

Two pacenote systems, called out by your co-driver, will be available. A traditional numeric system highlights a speed-related estimate for each corner, whereas a more accessible system describes the severity of the upcoming turn.

EA SPORTS WRC Hybrid settings Rally1

The top-class Rally1 hybrid vehicles (Hyundai, Toyota and M-Sport Ford) will utilise the boost system seen in the real world, and also in the outgoing WRC Generations titles created by KT Racing. Again, you have the choice of three deployment settings pre-stage.

Strangely, this is described in the game as ‘throttle position’, which isn’t how it works in reality – rather there are maps that select how the available boost is used. For the aggressive, balanced and cautious presets on show here, we’re intrigued by how these affect performance or requisite driving style.

Finally, we’re over the moon that the 1999 Volkswagen Golf returns, this time in the livery Mark Higgins used to win the Formula 2 category on that season’s Network Q Rally of Great Britain, but a little confused as to why there’s a seemingly fictional livery for Colin McRae’s 2001 Ford Focus.

EA SPORTS WRC will be released for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S 3rd November 2023. Further details about specific game modes are expected to be revealed ‘next week’.

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