WRC23 Hands-On Preview – The Real Deal

WRC23 Hands-On Preview

WRC23 stands for World Rally Championship 2023. In our continuing preview coverage of the game, this time we have some hands-on experience to talk about. To recap WRC23 is Codemasters latest foray into the dynamic and dangerous rally racing simulation. In our previous preview, which you can check out – here, the focus is on the depth and breadth of what Codemasters are aiming to achieve.

Codemasters goals are to be applauded but they will be torpedoed if the gameplay isn’t up to snuff. One of the enticing tidbits Codemasters shared is that the game physics uses those of the highly lauded Dirt Rally 2.0 as the baseline. Having played Dirt Rally 2.0, I can attest to the fidelity of the physics of the game. Top-notch indeed.

With great anticipation, I started up the preview build provided by Codemasters. I selected the professional mode which turns off all the driving aids. Then I picked a Quick Race and started the race. Got my ass kicked.

Tough Love Racing

But it was a firm and fair beat down. All the mistakes were mine. I missed shifts, stalled the car, missed braking points because of the track surface, and struggled to keep the rally car on the road. And I loved every second.

The game does not hold your hand. If you pick professional settings, the game expects you to drive like one. To properly set the table, I’ll recount my setup to provide a frame of reference. My setup comprises a Thrustmaster T300 FFB wheel, the Thrustmaster T-LCM pedal – notable for its load cell brake pedal, and the Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter. A decent setup, even though direct drive wheels are the pinnacle of sim racing setups.

With this setup, all of which the game recognized, I can state the physics and force feedback with this early build is top-notch. The roots of the Dirt Rally 2.0 physics are easily recognizable. Road feel and car physics are both distinct and provide excellent feedback.

Back To School

The courses for the Quick Race I ran included surfaces with gravel and sand. And in both cases, the appropriate feel and car behavior was reflected in the outputs my wheel received. Driving on gravel is notably different from driving on sand. On the sand, the car slid a lot more and required more judicious steering, braking, and throttle inputs.

After being humbled by the quick races I tried, it was prudent to go to training school. Here, you’ll find twelve lessons that start with basic techniques and move to the more advanced ones. The last lesson is a time trial which ties all the previous lessons together.

Each lesson covers a different surface; either asphalt, gravel, or snow. So the actual number of lessons triples. Couple with the assists you can toggle on or off, players will progress at a pace that removes any sense of frustration. However, be prepared to spend time to perfect your skills. Even on the easiest settings, the game is challenging. We can expect that Codemasters will continue to tweak the settings before they release the final build.

Based on what I have experienced with this early build, rally racing fans have something to look forward to. A game that will meet their expectations of a true real world feel rally racing sim.

Coming This November

WRC23 launches on current generation consoles plus PC this November 3, 2023. Rally racing fanatics have high hopes for this one and Codemasters sure seem intent on meeting those expectations.

***EA Sports WRC key provided by the publisher.***