Rallying has come a long way over the decades and with ever changing regulations, cars and technology, each year we’re greeted by a new version of the digital version of the FIA World Rally Championship and this year WRC7 has arrived. In the later half of 2017, we’ve been completely spoiled by a plethora of racing games, F1 2017, Project CARS 2, Forza 7 and Grand Turismo Sport, so WRC7 has its work cut out for itself as other titles add rally and rallycross categories to their diverse games.
WRC 7 is developed by Bigben and Kylotonn who’ve done a great job of updating the title to refresh it for the 2017 World Rally Championship changes. Being the official title has its benefits, as the game includes all the official cars, drivers and tracks. There’s a few divisions and cars to choose from like Junior WRC, WRC 2 and the top tier, 380HP, 500NM WRC cars like the Ford Focus RS WRC.
This game does what many fail at, that’s providing a fast way to demonstrate your racing experience. By taking a quick driving test, the game tests your ability to drive. Based on how many times you crash and how fast you complete the stage, you’re driving style difficulty will be set as Amateur, Semi-Ro, Pro, Simulation or Custom driving styles. You can always override this, but I found this to be a great way to get setup and communicate to the game, this isn’t your first time at the rodeo.
In terms of racing categories, there’s the standard Solo (Quick game, Career, Custom Championship) and Multiplayer (Online, Split screen and Hot seat / time trial) options. Throughout your time in WRC7, you’ll race across no less than 13 countries (including Australia), 52 Special Stages which challenge you with a diverse range of surfaces including dirt, mud, gravel, tarmac and more.
WRC7 also implement eSports Challenges which more games are doing to connect fans with the sport and keep you coming back all year round.
This game is frustrating when it comes to visuals. There’s times where stages and sunsets look absolutely phenomenal, but others where texture details look like they were more of a Friday afternoon effort. When you launch around the same time as Forza 7, you have a really high benchmark to reach.
During the review I played the game on a number of displays from computer monitors, to a cheap Full HD TV as well as a premium 4K TV, the Samsung Q7F. What I learnt was that the game can look sensational, when played on a fantastic display. One lower quality screens, like the cheap HD TV, it can look like a complete mess. The colours are weird, the shadow detail is lost and lacks contrast, but on the Q7F, the visuals are absolutely gorgeous. The game supports many steps in resolution and that includes a maximum of 4096×2160. I always like to run displays at their native resolution so played most of the game at 3840×2160. When not recording the gameplay, the GTX1080 was able to run at a smooth 60fps at 4K, with all the quality settings maxed out.
Something love about WRC7 is the inclusion of Nvidia Ansel. If you’re not familiar with it, its an in-game engine that allows you to pause the gameplay, then export high resolution photos (as much as 30Mb in size) and even 360 images. Think of it like the best in-game camera system you’ve ever used, and some. Since Nvidia announce Ansel, I’ve been waiting for a game to support it, thankfully WRC7 does.
This game supports races at multiple times of the day, but unlike Project Cars 2 and Forza 7, this has to be chosen ahead of the stage and isn’t dynamic. There’s a variance in weather in that different stages may be raining, but stages don’t often last long enough to enable real-time weather changes to be practical.
At the end of the day, the new handling means you feel more connected to the car than ever before and the sense of speed is better than any other title I’ve played. With the racing so good, you can forget about some of the visual deficits.
Ahead of the game’s release, we brought you news that the WRC7 developers had redeveloped their physics engine and after getting behind the wheel, everything they said is absolutely true. The feeling of traction across different road surfaces translates through the wheel more than ever before. Being able to feel the car’s grip is critical as you slide the car through corners, searching for micro-seconds off your stage time.
The new rules in 2017 means engine power has been revved up by 70 horsepower and is now at 380 hp, with the turbo restrictor increased from 33 to 36 mm. The power is easier to control with the return of an electronic central differential for better handling. The feeling of speed of speed as you launch off the line and fly up the gearbox is amazing. You feel that speed in a way I don’t think I’ve felt in any other game. Typically you have to glance down at your speedo to see how fast you’re going, but in WRC7, you can feel it.
When it comes to being fast, there’s no substitute for knowing the course, but being able to adjust the timing and detail of your co-driver’s instructions is a fantastic attribute of this game. Everyone will have personal preferences or abilities to retain a list of ingredients for the upcoming corners, precise adjustment on this allows you to hear the instruction exactly when you need it and respond according. This means you’ll have just the right amount of time to get your car sideways for the upcoming corner, the angle determined by your steering input after the corner severity is read out to you. Get it right and you’ll nail a great time, an incredibly rewarding experience, get it wrong and you’ll likely roll, or at best damage your vehicle. Worst case, you crash badly and attract a 10 second time penalty to be reset.
When it comes to controlling your car, you have a choice to make, controller or wheel and pedals. I forced myself to race with both as I think many casual racers will be on the controller. While the game calls for precision inputs, they’ve done a great job at accommodating for the less precise inputs on a controller thumbstick. When you put a hard left into the controller, the game understand you don’t mean rotate the wheel to the lock stops. With that said, if you’ve got a wheel and pedals with force feedback (the supported list is actually kind of ridiculous), that’s when the game comes alive and delivers a realistic simulation of being behind the wheel of a WRC car.
Racing solo is fun, but like many games, you’ll want to jump online and race with friends or other racing fans from across the globe. There’s weekly challenges to keep you coming back for more, especially if you want to hit the top of the international leaderboards. WRC7, like Forza7 returns the split screen option for local play against friends and family. Developers should be credited for this inclusion as not all invest the engineering required to make the performance of split screen work. This is a big asset for the game as it provides yet another reason to race and the more time you spend in a game, the more value you extract from your purchase price.
Price and Availability
If you’re a fan of Rally, get this game, the diversity of stages unique to this title, combined with a great physics engine, sense of speed and great audio is enough to make it a must have for fans of the sport. For those with a steering wheel and pedals, we can always do with additional titles to increase the value from our existing investments.
For those without only a casual interest in racing titles, I’d have to recommend you head to a more approachable Forza 7 over WRC7, a large part because of the deficit in graphical delight. If you’re buying an Xbox One X, you should know this title is on the list to get an update for 4K support of that console. Lets hope that same visual update also comes to PC racers.