The last twelve months have been decidedly interesting for all rally enthusiasts: not only did Codemasters release the excellent Dirt Rally 2.0, but the announcement of the arrival of Dirt 5 has just been made and in all probability, in the next a future Dirt Rally 3.0 will arrive. This avalanche of realistic titles will be added in early September WRC 9: this is the series of the slow series of Nacon developed by Kylotonn since 2015 which was previously from Milestone.

The French promoter has gradually improved over the years what were the basic characteristics of this franchise, arriving already last year, as our Lorenzo Mancosu explained, at a solid maturity of the franchise that manages to mix a certain type of simulation skill with a plentiful dose of content. In fact, the career mode was remarkable, as well as the ability to play a full season or a fast rally as well as improvements in the multiplayer sector with the introduction of weekly events.

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After an online presentation where the differences between versions 8 and 9 were explained to us, we came into possession of the preview code for WRC 9 which will be released on September 3, testing by hand and how well the game has developed. This is basically an annual re-release of the franchise along the lines of what Codemasters is doing with the F1 series. Already from the main menu it is clear that this version of WRC 9 is clearly 80% derived from its predecessor. The game management areas have remained essentially the same as the majority of the content present in terms of game modes; the options available are really numerous and allowed us to analyze the content both from a technical point of view and from a gameplay point of view.

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Among these, the fast play obviously allowed us to take a look at the basic characteristics of the game, but also the weekly challenges which are managed directly by the developers and which in our case were not yet accessible. . Unfortunately, the career mode was not playable, but we were able to play a full season or even the challenges dedicated to certain combinations of cars and rally in which certain performance and time requirements must be met in order to continue to conquer the most. badges possible. .

The training modes to ride on small circuits are very useful for those who decide to tackle WRC9 with a more simulative attitude, but there is also the possibility of carrying out a series of tests on all the official stages (more of 100 stages for 14 Global Rallies) in the game to familiarize you with the different cars, especially the different types of road surfaces. A great way to have a base from which to start whenever you take part in an official rally by preparing a setup suitable for all conditions.

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The modes are closed with the multiplayer; obviously we couldn’t get involved because the servers are still closed: from what we saw both regarding the possibility of creating custom lobbies and regarding the online events or the official eSport section , certainly dedicated to the official championship. In short, there will really be a lot of meat on fire for those who want to face the match by testing themselves against other human opponents. A legacy from the past, which Kylotonn’s boys are obviously fond of, split-screen mode has certainly remained for console audiences who enjoy one-on-one duels sitting on the couch.

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In terms of content, the game is not a completely new edition but it is essentially the continuation of the 2019 title with the addition of a whole series of innovations capable of enriching the overall mileage, both of which will reach a whole series of parameters which, also during the examination, we noticed that we were always critical of the conduct. Then come, in addition to the rallies already present, three new nations such as Japan, New Zealand and Kenya. To these in the after-sales phase will be added a series of updates for Finland and Portugal which were already present in WRC 8.

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The settings will be fifteen in total and may be faced with more than fifty official teams for the four categories currently entered in World Rally or in WRC, WRC2, WRC 3 and Junior WRC. Also in this case, the increase in the number of cars and teams is decidedly very significant and the icing on the cake is represented by the presence of fifteen historic cars requested by the community and finally included in this incarnation of the game. .

Graphically the game is very similar to its predecessor: the image quality is good but it is the visual amplitude of many stages that strikes in the shots from the outside.

The other innovations concern not only the circuits and the vehicles, but also the introduction of a series of opportunities at the gameplay level which allow WRC9 to be regarded as a decidedly innovative step compared to its predecessor. Derived directly from the neighbor, Dirt Rally, the Club System arrives in multiplayer mode to create its own online championships open to all or only to friends.

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The cooperative mode requested by all fans is eagerly awaited; there will be the possibility to face complete stages or rallies with a friend as a navigator. These will replace the in-game one and should be just as effective in giving you the right directions to try and complete the stage in the best possible way.

We do not know how the system works for the browser and how they can annotate the path: we imagine that it is possible to activate a system of digital notes but we do not exclude the fact that it is necessary to return to old glories school made of notepads and pens for a fashion that promises to be truly fascinating.

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The number of available challenges introduced directly in the mode just mentioned also increases with a series of changes in the graphics and especially in the physics of the vehicles on which we had focused during the review WRC 8. ‘technical aspect of the graphics and sound we leave the notes to the final review but already from the videos accompanying this article, we note that graphically the game has not changed much and the quality of the image is quite comparable to that of the ‘old version.

Going into the gameplay detail, we took a look at the three rallies in this version of the game and we could see how, from a qualitative point of view, they fairly accurately reflect what we had the used to play in previous versions of WRC. They’re all pretty well done when it comes to consistency of layouts with stages from easy to extremely difficult with frequent grade changes and blind curves that require careful recognition before tackling them at full speed. Interesting, in front of the dirt roads of Kenya, the possibility of seeing oneself crossing the road abruptly from the wild fauna which could cause some problems on the stopwatch once arrived at the end of the stage.

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It’s also no joke in New Zealand with its gravel and dangerous overhangs to tackle at full speed, especially if you decide to set the damage to a realistic level. Any little burr can really lead to a disastrous off the track to destroy the car beyond repair and immediately end up in a rally.

A big missing from the past is back, or the rally of Japan which returns with its extremely technical stages on the roads around Nagoya and the surrounding mountains. We took on the three rallies on offer for a quick taste of what to expect at the start of September and we can say that those who have enjoyed the difficulties of the other events on the calendar will not be disappointed by the more complicated stages introduced in these contexts.

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So we can’t wait to see the completely redesigned courses in Portugal and Finland. both laid on fast dirt roads: dry in the first and wet in the second. We will not be able to talk about it in the review since this additional content will be published for free in a few months from the launch of the game.

As for the WRC9 driving model, we’ve taken more than one step to try to understand how the physics of the game have evolved and we can already anticipate that we weren’t surprised to see a natural sequel to what we had already appreciated in WRC8. The series is moving more and more towards the simulation aspect, especially when all aid is removed and it is decided to compete with the wheel.

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The use of the joypad is indeed well implemented but requires a certain driving assistance and hardly allows to obtain the same type of efficiency as a steering wheel and a pedal during a competition without assistance. We got our hands on the most powerful cars like the recent Ford Focus in the top class, but we also pulled a few WRC2s by the neck and even some of the old legendary glories that turned out to be some of the toughest. to drive in an absolute sense.

Compared to the first versions, the series organized by the French developers, the driving model is of a much higher quality and allows you to get your hands on the deficiencies of the car according to the surfaces or its vehicular characteristics by working on a full-bodied configuration screen. The choice of tires according to the surface is fundamental and it takes twenty minutes in the most demanding stages between snow and dirt roads to understand that the game does not give a discount if you overdo with the braking or by moving excessively. the weight of the car from side to side in more tortuous strokes.

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The powers of the different cars seem to be rendered correctly as well as the inertia of the car in the front and rear facing different surfaces. From a certain point of view, the impression is that the physics are less filtered than that of the Dirt Rally with the various cars which in many situations give the player less grip than they really should.

The inertia and the weight of the vehicle are better perceived by the steering and require absolutely remarkable control caution. In some cases, however, we have noticed oversteer that cannot be recovered from a small skid: a current aspect of the WRC 8 that we have tried to correct, sometimes successful, sometimes not, by working on the settings and technique. piloting.

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The most powerful cars are those in the premier class: training a bit with those in the lower class is certainly a good idea.

For the moment we can conclude this overview by confirming the impression we had on the occasion of the press presentation and the first hours of play that we spent with WRC9: we are clearly in front of it is the continuation of ‘a solid base from an options perspective with a very sophisticated career. Vehicle dynamics are what interests us the most and, after almost five years of development, they could aspire to the quality label to put it in direct competition with precisely the Codemasters slowdown titles that we mentioned at the beginning of the review.

What we can anticipate here is that it is unlikely that those who had enjoyed The predecessor will be disappointed with this new incarnation of the franchise, for the new content on offer, but especially for the new modes of play, especially cooperative and competitive multiplayer.

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Those tied to the titles of the competition can sit quietly at the window awaiting our review which will attempt to clarify whether this latest effort from Kylotonn represents this franchise’s definitive leap in quality to the Olympus of quality stamp: the time of a month and we find out.

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