New Game Review

Review – Wreckfest (PC)

Not your average derby.

Thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, we’ve all see it before; a farmer showing off his fresh new tractor by driving it down a main road at a snail’s pace, blocking traffic. But what if everyone was driving a tractor? What if those tractors were better used as bumper cars? Absurd question or the genius behind Bugbear Entertainment’s Wreckfest.

Wreckfest isn’t exclusively about a John Deere thunder-dome, but the first event does introduce players to the idea that destruction is equally as important as speed. Unlike Mario Kart,players aren’t given items and projectiles to enable their destructive tendencies, only the vehicle itself. Ramming into opponents at various speeds and angles is the only way to harm your opponents. The caveat is that you can’t damage them without risking collateral. Playing too aggressively could mean destroying your own vehicle, leaving you in the dust.

Next Car Game - Wreckfest Screenshot 2018.07.31 - 16.43.40.48.png
I haven’t heard anyone mention a Gremlin since Dick Miller.

Completing events in top positions awards points that accumulate to help unlock new game modes and events. Once players complete the tractor derby, they’ll be able to unlock new racing and derby events. But unlocking new races has more criteria than simply placing in events. Completing races will grant you Credit Points, or CP, that are used to purchase new vehicles and parts. Unlocking new classes of vehicles will also make new events available to you.

Courses are made up of winding roads that quickly transition from dirt to asphalt and back, forcing racers to tune their vehicle appropriately before each race. Adjusting suspension, gear ratio, differential, and brake balance gives players the right amount of additional steering advantage over the competition. It also forces players to avidly observe the track as they race, anticipating their next moves and shifting into the proper gear before dirt roads hinder control.

Screenshot (12)
Freedom means being able to race recklessly.

For such a small studio, Bugbear did a killer job visually. The atmospheric lighting effects of the sunrises and sunsets over the course are fantastic; equally so are the reflections. Collision physics are fun and not too over-the-top, keeping the race grounded in realism more than the opening tractor derby might suggest. And the soundtrack filled with hard rock power chords keep the adrenaline going even when you’re trailing behind (as I often would).

But for as many strengths as Wreckfest has, there are some obvious oversights. An off-road racing game in 2018 that focuses on tuning vehicles for each track should absolutely have a weather system as a central game mechanic. The lighting indicating time of day is a stunning testament to Bugbear Entertainment’s technical ability, but how much better would the game look had they included additional weather effects? What if we could see headlights reflected off of falling rain drops? Or muddy particle effects from rain-soaked dirt track was kicked up as racers slipped on wet track, drifting wider than intended, sideswiping a passing car.

Next Car Game - Wreckfest Screenshot 2018.07.31 - 16.34.30.29.png
Don’t drink and drive.

Wreckfest is fun and has plenty of events to keep players motivated to progress through the game’s content, but Wreckfest just doesn’t have the level of variety that I had expected. Worse, it’s the first racing game that I’ve played in quite some time that didn’t support a controller.

 

Graphics: 8.0

Textures are solid and reflections are good. But with so many matte surfaces, the graphics engine is underutilized.

Gameplay: 7.0

Wreckfest is a strong game but suffers from a lack of variety and controller support.

Sound: 8.5

Sound effects and a great soundtrack make for the perfect raceway mixtape.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Game modes get old quickly and start to feel like a bit of a grind.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Wreckfest is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

A copy of Wreckfest was provided by the publisher.

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Boston born turned typical Brooklyn hipster with too much beard and too little time, trading off sleep for the chance to test his patience with the most frustrating games. From Dark Souls to The Witness to ironman Xcom playthroughs; if it offers a challenge, it’s on his list. When he’s not hiding in the mountains, editing music tracks, or pretentiously talking about craft beer, you’ll find him replaying the Bioshock, Mass Effect, or Souls franchises.

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