Review – WRC 9

I was positively surprised with last year’s WRC 8, as you may recall. The franchise had never been that impressive up to that point, being largely considered an inferior competitor when compared to the likes of Codemasters’ Dirt series, but WRC 8 was a turning point. Kylotonn took their time, revamping their engine, improving their game in various ways, and delivered something that, while still daunting to newcomers, was way better than its predecessors. I wasn’t expecting for that game’s successor, WRC 9, to completely wow me as much as before. This is partially due to how soon it was released after its predecessor and partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic basically screwing up sports events all over the world. Sure the differences were minute, but all in all, WRC 9 is probably the best racing game Kylotonn has ever developed.

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WRC 9 is like 10% easier to drive when compared to WRC 8. Baby steps, guys, baby steps…

This is a very straightforward review because at its core, WRC 9 is basically WRC 8 with (very welcome) quality of life improvements. The career mode is still there, with a few additions. The racing itself has been slightly tweaked in favor of the newcomers, with some driving assists that make the overall gameplay feel a bit less intimidating. Although let’s face it, this is still a rallying game, the literal hardest category of racing in existence Therefore it will still demand a lot of concentration and lightning-fast reflexes from you.

The most noticeable improvement in WRC 9 is its visual fidelity. While WRC 8 was already a pretty game in its own right, it still suffered from some slight issues in its lighting effects and frame pacing department. That was fixed in WRC 9. It still runs at a locked framerate, but just like in Forza Horizon 4, it runs so smoothly that you can still feel an adrenaline-fueled sensation of speed. Considering that rally cars don’t exactly run at 200mph, that’s a compromise I’m okay with.

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Ray tracing? Who needs that?

It also looks way more impressive in terms of its level of detail, with the amount of assets onscreen, foliage, and most impressively, the quality of its lighting effects. I can only wonder what Kylotonn will be able to pull off once they start releasing versions with ray tracing support.

The only aspect in WRC 9 that is significantly worse than its predecessor is its loading times. I understand that this game is pretty, detailed, and its courses span for literal dozens of miles, but I couldn’t help but notice that the loading times became much longer and more annoying to deal with than before. Is it something you can get used to? Well sure, given that once you actually enter a race, you’ll still spend some time tuning your car’s specs, but it’s still annoying nonetheless.

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I bless the sunshine down in Aaaaaaafricaaaa….

Not a lot has been added in WRC 9 when compared to its predecessor, but what’s new in here is still very welcome. Its online interface is a bit better than before, its graphics have been improved by a significant degree, its framerate is more stable, and its controls, while still punitive towards newcomers, feature some new assists to make the adaptation process a little bit less traumatizing to the uninitiated. It might not be that much of a shocking improvement as WRC 8 was compared to WRC 7, but the folks at Kylotonn deserve a huge pat on the back for gradually transforming what once was a forgettable budget racing series into a franchise that can easily compete against the likes of Dirt and V-Rally. Honestly, it might even be better than its competition nowadays.

 

Graphics: 9.0

The lighting effects and overall amount of detail have been improved and the framerate, while still locked, is better paced than before. A very welcome enhancement.

Gameplay: 7.5

The slightly improved frame pacing improves the gameplay as a whole. A few new assists have been added in order to make the game more accessible to newcomers, but it will still require some time to get used to.

Sound: 8.5

Same as before. There is a wide array of voice clips meant to emulate your co-pilot, realistic engine noises, and better-than-average in-menu music.

Fun Factor: 8.0

WRC 9 is a bit more newcomer-friendly and a tiny bit more fun to play due to its minute, but welcome, quality of life improvements. It does feature much longer loading times than before, however.

Final Verdict: 8.0

WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship was provided by the publisher.