Our impressions of EA SPORTS WRC

DirtFish's writers have been busy spending every second of their spare time playing the new WRC game


This week, partners, siblings and parents of rally fans all over the world have lost all contact with their close ones as they glue themselves to the all-new World Rally Championship video game.


Out for early access on Tuesday (October 31), the game is now available for everyone today (Friday November 3) on Play Station 5, XBOX Series X|S and PC.

But being the crazed rally fans that they are, DirtFish writers Luke Barry and James Bowen have already logged several virtual kilometers behind the wheel, pre-ordering the game for early access.

So on the game’s official launch date, what do they make of it? Does it live up to the hype? Here are their verdicts

It’s so addictive


It was a happy accident, but brilliant nonetheless. Planning my day off in lieu from last week’s Central European Rally, I’d given myself Tuesday – just thinking that made sense as a day for a breather. It turned out to be an inspired day for a day off!

Flu and COVID vaccine booked in for the morning, haircut immediately afterwards, I had an afternoon to fill.

EA SPORTS WRC did that, and then some. Aside from a break to go for a walk and eat some delivered McDonald’s, I think I logged about eight solid hours of playing time. It’s that addictive.

Having briefly sampled the game a week before at Codemasters HQ, I was hoping I’d perform a little better now back on my more familiar gamepad – rather than the state-of-the-art sim setup I’d embarrassed myself on before.

But let’s just say my Hyundai i20 N Rally1 ended my first attempt at Rally México looking rather second-hand. However that same feeling I’d felt on the sim, the genuine feel through the steering of where the grip is (or isn’t!) was back. And I soon began to get the hang of it.

Realistically if you’re a rally fan, particularly one who enjoys gaming, you’re going to be playing this new instalment. In a way it doesn’t even matter how good it is, because you’re still going to love the sensation of driving. But on EA SPORTS WRC it is a genuine sensation.

I found myself doing that awfully cringey thing real-life car reviewers do where they let out noises of excitement when they’re just loving their driving experience. That was me as I hustled a Ford Escort Maxi down one of Monte Carlo’s flatter and faster sections.


I was fully immersed – and the sounds (particularly of the Rally1 cars) are so accurate it’s insane. Throughout the rest of the day I did it all, from hanging onto my Seat Ibiza Kit Car as it was thrown around the Kenyan wilderness, or flying through the tracks of New Zealand in Volkswagen’s ‘unicorn’ Polo R WRC 2017. With 18 different rallies (17 at launch) and 78 different cars, it’s impossible to ever feel bored. There’s always something new to try.

And it’s incredibly gratifying learning how to get the most out of each different class of car. The front-wheel-drive machines were probably my favorite as they were easier to extract the most from for somebody with my limited skill level, but the Rally1s were the most fascinating. Learning how, and where, to use the hybrid takes time, and comparing them to the 2017-2021 World Rally Cars was eye-opening – I fully understand why Elfyn Evans initially struggled with the new generation, put it that way!

In the interest of balance though, and as a massive pedant, I do have some extremely minor points to raise. The Ford Fiesta WRC sports a 2021 livery but has Esapekka Lappi’s name and number on the side (when he drove for M-Sport in 2020) and Chris Ingram’s livery is selectable for the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 and not the Rally2 evo he actually drove in Monte Carlo this year.

And on that topic, it does feel a bit disappointing that not every driver’s livery is available in the game. For example you can’t play as Suninen in the Hyundai Rally1, Jari-Matti Latvala in the Toyota or Grégoire Munster in the Puma. And in WRC2 Lindholm isn’t available for the Hyundai, and most frustratingly of all Andreas Mikkelsen, the WRC2 champion, isn’t choosable for the Škoda. But these are all fixable with an update!

The fact is I’m already working out when I can play next, and how I can possibly upgrade my setup with the limited space I have available in my flat. That says everything you need to know. It’s the best £45 I’ve possibly ever spent.

Luke Barry

Smiles are guaranteed


Unlike my esteemed colleague, I was working on Tuesday (early access release day), which meant I had to endure hours of pain and anticipation before I could finally fire up EA SPORTS WRC once the last DirtFish story of the day had been posted.

Imagine Christmas day, but you don’t get to open your presents until after pudding! (Although lets be honest, playing a new WRC game is more exciting than Christmas).

After a bit of fiddling with the graphics settings and calibrating my aging Fanatec wheel and pedals to my liking, I was ready to take on my first proper stage.

The scene? Portugal. Weapon of choice? Err… Renault’s Twingo R2.

But there was a method to my madness. My logic was simple – start with a slow car on a slow-ish stage, then build myself up to flying through Finland in a Rally1 car. Thirty seconds later, as I searched for a way back onto the virtual road that I had departed after completely missing a sharp right-hander, I realized that even the little Twingo was going to take some effort to tame.


Happily, once you get your eye-in, EA SPORTS WRC offers a driving experience which is highly intuitive, meaning learning new cars, stages and surfaces is hugely enjoyable. Every turn of the wheel points the car exactly where you’d expect it to go.

Enter a corner too fast and you can feel the steering go heavy as the tires lose grip and you understeer off the course. But when you dial it back a little, and get the car right in the sweet spot – on the verge of crashing but also somehow beautifully in control – then the sensation through the steering wheel is fantastic. It’s so rewarding, and induces a broad smile that will last right up until the point where you collide with that inevitable conveniently-placed tree.

Despite not yet being able to fully tame the trusty front-wheel drive Twingo, I decided to ditch my planned steady progression and next headed straight to Rally1 on the icy Monte Carlo stages. I just had to experience how it felt to handle over 500 horsepower, hybrid boost, four-wheel drive and a decent amount of downforce through the spectacular mountain scenery. Could I keep it on the road this time?

Of course, the answer was no. But that didn’t matter, I was having a blast. And what’s more, the thing that struck me the most about the Rally1 cars was the sound. It’s extremely close to the mark (the sounds of the WRC are still fresh in my ears from watching last week’s CER stage-side), and the chirping of the turbo as you let off the throttle to rotate the car is particularly exquisite.


Before I knew it, the evening was done and it was time to drag myself away from the wheel and get some sleep. But as I drifted off, my mind was racing with thoughts about what car I should try next, where I can improve my driving and how many Tarmac rallies should feature in my first custom championship – yes I’m one of those types of guys.

The great thing about EA SPORTS WRC is that there’s so much to get your teeth into and so many different game modes to enjoy. Right now, it feels like it’ll take me years to experience everything the game has to offer, and master every car on every stage. And that’s certainly what I intend to do.

A few graphics issues aside (which will hopefully be fixed by a planned update next week), the game is superb.

James Bowen

Words:Luke Barry & James Bowen