Nacon and KT Racing World Rally Championship the license is finally over. The CMR the brand passes the baton to driving sim legend Codemasters – now part of EA – from 2023. KT is clearly hoping to exit on the right track, and it’s certainly earned its right; after WRC 8, WRC 9 and WRC 10 helped prove the developer’s reputation as a serious gamer, now it’s time for the real finale.
WRC generations promises to be so good, it doesn’t even need a number. However, from the first moment, something is wrong. After building its rally empire for three solid years, KT’s new outing isn’t quite the epilogue fans might have been waiting for. In its desire to deliver a definitive big leap forward – and a potential “here’s what you could have won” in years to come, if Codies fumbled the ball – it misses the mark.
I say that like a real KT convert CMR series, which slowly but steadily improved its formula after a particularly torrid start to average games. Despite Generations‘ handful of new bells and whistles, it follows WRC 10 in the same way WRC 9 made with 8offering something too close to its predecessor, and in some cases trying to fix what wasn’t broken.
The first half hour of WRC generations is shocking. Following in the footsteps of other publishers, Nacon has decided that you must now be part of its club to play CMR, despite it being the company’s last. It is also a poorly managed registration process and a sign of frustration to follow.
Even for series veterans, the tutorial is a good place to learn new developments, but WRC generations‘ initial training is not useful. Overlooking accessibility rules, it explains the new changes to the format, as well as what to do on a simple level, with text on the screen hovering above your racing focal point. There’s no voiceovers, gameplay slowing down to focus on tricks, or even set pauses between each new section to let you absorb new mechanics, like the hybrid engine system.
Visually too, it’s not really a step forward; in my favorite performance mode on Xbox Series X, the car model looks flat and glued to its surroundings, while the promised 60fps frame rate is rarely there. Switch to 4K and 30fps mode, and it’s often uncomfortable to game.
Above all, WRC generations‘out-of-the-box controls are a mess. That said, I’m a controlling guy. Nacon and KT Racing have made no secret of their partnership with racing wheel manufacturer Fanatec – its logo is the series’ loading symbol – but in their desire to deliver the ultimate experience to those with gear top of the line, WRC generations seems to alienate more casual gamers who want something CMR The franchise has proven itself to deliver well over the past three outings: scalable and customizable simulation controls that make it a lot of fun to play if you don’t have a full wheel setup.
At first it was so bad that I doubted my own judgement. I played a lot of Forza Horizon 5 over the past 12 months, so there was an obvious concern that I had gotten too used to arcade-style racing. After reinstallation WRC 10 and playing various modes for an hour – perfectly enjoyable too – I replicated my settings in WRC generations. It’s very different, and largely for the worse.
Some mechanics certainly feel better than before. The handbrake is more sensitive and satisfying. Asphalt-based steps feel tighter and more responsive under your tires, once you get the hang of them. Gravity and downforce also have more impact through ridges, dips, and jumps.
But then there’s, well, everything else. No amount of deadband or sensitivity adjustment seems to overcome the cars’ twitches once they hit a good speed. Dirt and snow tracks have a real Bambi on Ice feel, with correction and overcorrection inevitably seeing your car facing sideways, upside down, or the side of a cliff. Hitting the smallest objects sometimes stops you, seems to grab you and spin you 90 degrees, or sees your car roll and flip in physics-defying ways. The cars feel almost twice as heavy, and it takes a long time to adjust to braking distances and lockups.
With a controller, WRC generations often feels like an exercise in excessive caution, especially on courses constricted by trees, snowbanks, buildings or walls. Although many stages are identical to the last three CMR games – another gripe, but not so surprising at this point – you can find yourself constantly under-rev, over-braking and completely misjudging corners, as do-or-die racing doesn’t seem possible.
This, combined with its mostly identikit career mode, highlights the main problem with WRC generations: it tweaked things it doesn’t need and leaves aging modes intact. few people leave WRC 10– if at all – you’ll feel like its basic single-player mode is worth the wait.
Yet it is fair to say that WRC generations KT’s most complete offer CMR package to date, combining past ideas into an essentially “ultimate” collection. When everything clicks, admittedly quite rarely, it’s as good as ever. With the right vehicle on the right course, moments of brilliance are up for grabs, whether it’s the roads of Corsica in a Lancia Delta HF Integrale, the forests of Ypres in a Ford Puma Rally1 or the hairpins dramas of Monte Carlo in an Alpine A110.
Multiplayer is also improved, with a single player and team league system, divided into seasons, with daily and weekly events to keep you coming back. Given WRC generations won’t see any post-launch support outside of bug fixes – due to the license going elsewhere – it’s a good way to extend the game’s longevity and give fans what they’ve been asking for.
However, once I reinstalled WRC 10, I found myself going back and enjoying it more. Sure, WRC generations is the only real rally game this year, but if you have already WRC 10and you don’t care about online gaming, it’s hard to make the case for this ultimate outing, despite the promises it holds.