Execution is a big part of any plan, but the actual pen-on-paper part is just as important. That goes for a lot of different things in life, be it professionally, in your personal life, and even in sports. You can’t step two feet within a sporting organization without stumbling into teams of planners looking over strategy charts, coming up with different ways they can get ahead in the game, and that’s one of the most fascinating aspects of planning ahead in order to try and claim victory. Within racing, perhaps the most tactical of motorsports is the rally category, and the eight entry in the WRC franchise was at E3 to prove just that.
WRC 8’s demo took me by surprise, because I only got to drive a car for about a quarter of my time talking to the dev who was at the floor handling the demo, and even more shockingly, I didn’t mind it at all! The big part that my demo focused on was the planning, and the simulation behind the team that helps turn the gears way before a race even takes place. That means analyzing tracks, having a detailed look at your car’s setup, hold meetings about specific team members joining the team, and most importantly, whether or not you should wear any clothes to a press conference. Okay, one of those things might not be true, but hey, who’s holding any of these drivers to any sort of seriousness?
Well, this game apparently, because man, I really felt overwhelmed with the amount of customization that there is to be done before and after races. The races themselves can take place in a bunch of different locations around the globe, over fourteen, with two new to the World Rally Championship circuit, including Poland, which doesn’t officially make part of the real-life event, but serves as a practice location for the game.
The career mode is unsurprisingly the biggest part of this game, not just because of all of the planning simulation behind it, but also due to how it treats a racing career all throughout the calendar year. An actual calendar serves as a stage-by-stage schedule of activities, be it actual races to simply taking a day off: it’s up to you to decide what to do with your time, and your decisions end up playing a huge part towards the success of your team, and its efficiency.
If you let team members rest from events during an off, they’re able to regain their energy, thus upping their base stats and becoming more effective, but at the cost of not moving your own. That can help you in the long run, which wasn’t directly demonstrated while I checked the demo out, but was touted as one of the big crossroads during career mode — burn the midnight oil in detriment to your team, or take the slower path and have a stronger group in the long run? That is the question that will burn in your mind during WRC 8.
When the time to race came, I felt like the simulation part was done and over with, but the actual driving in WRC 8 felt solid. Funnily enough, though, even if the game didn’t play that well, I would have probably been fine due to how cool the whole underlying mechanic to racing was in this demo. Thankfully, I didn’t find anything wrong with the racing or graphical parts of WRC 8. Sure, a few things looked off as it’s expected from a demo, but the overall presentation looked good as I played on a PlayStation 4 Pro. I expect the visuals to pop even more on PC, but the little of what I tried at E3 was tight enough on Sony’s platform.
I’m anxious to start a team of my own and see how far I can get without crashing and burning, and I won’t have to wait too long. WRC 8 will slip and slide onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch sometime later this year.