Wreckfest PS5 Review
I suspect that at some point while playing Forza or Gran Turismo or one of those other snooty racing sims with their car-porn focus on slippery reflective metal and engineered curves, you’ve had the urge to turn the race into a cacophony of screaming tires twisted metal. You know, to transform the Indy 500 into the world’s most expensive bumper car arena. When Wreckfest appeared on PC in 2018, and on consoles a little later, it allowed players to do just that: indulge their demolition derby fantasies of gleeful automotive destruction without the inevitable years in traction and physical therapy.
Wreckfest was probably one of the most overlooked racing games of the last generation, which is a shame. It splits the difference between arcade-style accessibility and all the tweaks and adjustments to performance that gear heads expect, while adding excellent physics and damage modeling–which is kind of its wheelhouse and point. Although Wreckfest’s career mode is pretty dramatically bare bones, there is still a huge amount of content to explore, cars, trucks and other vehicles to unlock and armor up, and plenty of multiplayer options. And even though it tilts towards being an arcade racer, the lack of a hand-holdy racing line and super aggressive AI opponents mean that players coming from one of the “hardcore” sims will need to learn a new way of driving. From the tutorial races on riding lawn mowers through later contests between trucks with high performance everything and tank-like steel cages, Wreckfest is simply fun.
Quick summary for the uninitiated: Wreckfest is a crowdfunded racing sim that places emphasis on demolition derby-style events (either against humans or AI), and many of the upgrades that players earn from races go to improving not just engines and suspensions, but things like armor plating and reinforced roll bars. Wreckfest doesn’t stray into Mad Max territory, there are no literal weapons mounted to the cars, but there is no shortage of twisted metal in even the more traditional races.
While the PS5 release doesn’t add to the package with new content, it makes a vast number of visual and performance improvements that elevate the experience and, given the dearth of racing games for the new console, it may well finally get some love from players.
Load times have been drastically improved, making getting into races nearly instantaneous, a huge upgrade from the PS4 version. More critically to enjoying those races, the framerate and resolution has gone from 30 fps to 60 fps in 4K, making each lap a fluid dance of silky smooth destruction. Although some of the environmental textures aren’t cutting edge, the improved lighting and 4K detail on the PS5 release really delivers where its counts, in the added particle effects, reflective surfaces, deformed cars and damage simulations, and other telling touches that bring the sometimes fanciful vehicles to life. I didn’t detect a shred of pop-in or framerate stutter and my experience was bug-free and felt polished.
Although it drove under the radar on PS4, Wreckfest deserves the attention of racing fans, especially those with a destructive streak and a love of vehicular mayhem. With its vastly improved framerates and bumped-up resolution, Wreckfest on PS5 is the definitive way to play the game, whether against humans or the game’s more-than-decent AI drivers. Wreckfest might not be the new console generation’s ultimate racing sim, but it has some depth, a unique set of chops, and is a lot of fun.
**PS5 code provided by the publisher for review***
- Fast loading times
- Improved framerates and resolution
- Fun variety of races
- Career mode is lackluster
- Some textures showing their age
- New version doesn’t add content