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Featured Sim Racing: The Big Mid-Season Review - Part 6

Discussion in 'Other Racing Games' started by Paul Jeffrey, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    Sim Racing News Editor Staff Premium

    Wreckfest Review.jpg
    The RaceDepartment Big Mid-Season Review continues into part 6. For this edition we take a look at Bugbear Entertainment's Next Car Game Wreckfest, a PC Destruction Derby style racing game recently confirmed as being due to receive the console port treatment to Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

    Providing something of a more light-hearted approach to the racing genre, Wreckfest does however hide a surprising amount of simulation potential under the hood. The game gives players a thoroughly satisfying driving experience while providing plenty of entertainment value as you smash and bash your way to victory lane.

    Next Car Game Wreckfest
    Next Car Game Wreckfest Review.jpg
    The game with the stupid name. Natural successor to the FlatOut series , Wreckfest is a superb recreation of the exciting world of destruction derby style banger racing, but with a few interesting takes on the scene thrown in for good measure. Graphically pleasing to the eye and featuring one of the better damage models in the industry, Wreckfest is a visual delight to behold while at the same time offering a surprisingly engaging driving experience, bringing to the fore a simulation aspect one would not initially have thought the game would enjoy.

    The cars are all pretty entertaining to drive, with power slides satisfyingly possible in the quicker machines, mated to an impressive feeling of body roll and weight shifting simulated in the core physics offering while you are driving out on one of the many diverse racing environments found in the game.

    The title itself is very well optimised when one considers the amount of action that can appear on screen, and early stutter issues have now seemingly been resolved by developers Bugbear Entertainment. Menu and in game screens are a minimalistic affair at best, but never-the-less easy to negotiate for those not familiar with the game. Room has obviously been left for new features yet to arrive for the sim as Wreckfest just about scrapes through and passes for a semi-finished game when it is first fired up.

    On track the net code has been improved considerably in recent builds, presenting players with a solid online experience. The in-game lobbies work well, as does the simplistic chat functionality available when waiting for the race to load.

    Front end the game is still unfinished, but presentable enough to be satisfactory. Once out on track, that's when Next Car Game Wreckfest really starts to shine.
    Slowly but surely Bugbear Entertainment have been building up the content for Wreckfest, a game that now sports a grand total of eight vehicles ranging from low powered European based cars to big V8 American Muscle machines. Although only eight in number, a wide range of upgrades and enhancements can be made to each of the cars via the in game garage option. Adding upgrade parts changes the vehicles overall rating via a point score class system, much like the traditional Gran Turismo upgrade structure. Each car has its own unique feel, and each characteristic of the cars play to various strengths and weaknesses depending on the type of track, and event, one is competing in at any given time. Sadly official licenses for real world manufacturer brands are not present in Wreckfest, but the studio do a good job of leaving little to the imagination when creating the cars. Each vehicle in NCG:W can be easily identified to its real life counterpart, despite the often run down and dilapidated state one can expect from a dirt track banger car right at the very end of its useful life cycle.

    Track wise, the number of choices in Wreckfest varies wildly from tarmac gravel, mixed surface and tarmac race tracks, many inspired by real-world locations - literally providing a playground for any type of event the user wishes to participate in. All the tracks within Wreckfest have been created with loving attention to detail, much of the roadside furniture can be destroyed on impact, spreading debris and tyres across the racing surface for your rivals to navigate around (or through in many cases). All the tracks in game come with a reverse layout option, and Wreckfest even has a figure of eight and four different derby style stadiums to enjoy. The Stadium locations are particularly exciting to drive as metal grinds against metal in a fight to remain the last man standing amidst a sea of derbies and destroyed cars.

    The initial pass at garage implementation brings in a raft of car upgrades one can purchase for their broken down race car, however this functionality has not yet been fully completed. Expansion in this area has been promised, with an extensive overhaul of functionality and options due to be brought in to the game with future updates. It has been speculated that an extensive sales and wants section for both cars and parts will be created within Wreckfest, allowing players to negotiate deals between each other online to develop (or maintain) their favourite race machines. Little firm detail about the development of this side of the game is currently known, however with the recent announcement of a console edition it can be expected that further details will be teased in the near future.

    Online mode, this is where Wreckfest really starts to shine at its brightest. Support is provided for up to 24 players with relative ease, allowing server managers to set up their own rules, allow track choice voting and earn in game credits for such things as fastest lap, race win and most retirements caused. These awarded credits (which can be won by anyone on the server, depending on their performance against the respective criteria) can then be used in the offline garage to buy upgrades or repair damage to the chosen vehicle. Depending on the upgrades purchased, the car performance stats will be changed (in a similar way to Gran Turismo) and the vehicle may be moved up (or down) to a different class.

    Online is relatively short on features at this time, however Bugbear are looking at substantially increasing the online experience with "highly configurable multiplayer with a variety of modes". Unfortunately rapid release of updates are not a Bugbear forte, so how far down the line until the promised enhancements are until they reach the game is yet to be seen. That said, the core experience in Wreckfest, the raison d'être of the game, is the huge fun you can have playing in a packed online lobby. If the lack of features in Wreckfest appeared in a traditional track racing title, many would be pretty upset, but with Wreckfest, just getting out on the track and bumping and banging into your rivals is such good fun it becomes very easy to forgive the deeper issues and missing features with this title.

    Helping to bolster the content within Wreckfest comes modding support, a relatively new addition, implemented with the support of the popular Steam Workshop. To aid the community in creating new content for the game, Bugbear have very helpfully released several tools to help make the most of the obvious modding potential in Wreckfest, and happily the title's multiplayer environment fully supports modded content online. Allowing up to 24 players to race in custom cars, or on custom tracks, whilst still providing a solid gaming experience. The fruits of this new adventure have already started to show promise, with several high quality projects already in the works. This type of game simply cries out for a vibrant modding scene, and it is not hard to imagine if mods are sufficiently supported the community should be able to extend the playing life of this game considerably in the coming years.

    In terms of what you can expect to do within Wreckfest, Bugbear have begun to include new game modes for players to participate in. The various race and derby game modes currently include fan favorite Team Deathmatch, with further new modes and innovations promised for future builds. Of course if just simply entering a race and fighting for the win is your thing, players can do standard contact racing across all the tracks, with selectable lap counts, but sadly not static or dynamic weather and/or time of day effects, which is a bit of a shame, as the visuals in Wreckfest are top drawer and would benefit greatly from changing moods such as early morning to twilight events as the sun sets in the distance.

    Aiming to make the most of the attractive graphics and impressive damage model, Wreckfest does comes with a competent in-game photo mode and reply system that is close to becoming a rival for Assetto Corsa with regards to the "watchability" of the reply files. Despite having a solid photo mode, in my opinion Wreckfest seems to miss the point somewhat as the game contains no real place in which to upload your pictures, and offers no kind of incentive for players to make the most of this feature. With spectacular crashes and impressive visuals, one would expect Wreckfest to be making more of this side of the sim, developing the photo mode and making uploading and viewing of community images and videos one of the core interactive elements of the game. Maybe this has been earmarked for future updates..?

    This has been, for me at least, a bit of a revelation in Wreckfest. When I first downloaded the game way back in its initial Early Access launch, I fully expected it to be pitched squarely at the casual gaming audience looking for quick and easy thrills. I was wrong. Over time the studio have diligently worked hard to bring a high level of realism to the driving experience in Wreckfest. Ok it's not getting a new tyre model every three weeks, it doesn’t have the latest chassis flex technology nor does it simulate ERS or that NGU-KRHYE thingy, but the driving experience has received plenty of attention from the devs, and it does actually give a very authentic feeling behind the wheel without alienating wide sections of the audience with over complicated advanced driving physics.

    The way in which the car reacts to certain situations is intuitive, the player can feel what the wheels are doing through the force feedback in their hands and the car appears to present the appropriate FFB when understeer and oversteer are induced. Weight transfer (perfect for sliding) has been replicated very well indeed, giving the various loose surface tracks an added element of enjoyment as you slide around looking for grip whilst your competition rubs away at the car’s rear quarter in an effort to pitch you into a spin and off the road. Thankfully the developers have worked hard at providing H pattern shift compatibility for a variety of addon gear sticks, and these work exceptionally well in Wreckfest. Which is useful as all the cars in game run the traditional H pattern shifting method. Sadly clutch use isn't simulated properly yet, but that’s not going to stop me heel and toe driving anytime soon.

    Early in its life cycle Wreckfest displayed a tendency to react in rather wild ways to contact with other cars and the surrounding scenery, this seems to have been cured somewhat by the studio and now the vehicle interaction with other objects on the track looks, and feels, exemplary.

    FFB for the game is still a little rough around the edges, but by no means does this diminish the fun that can be had in this game.

    Pretty good actually. The cars all have different engine notes, and all sound reasonably close to how one would expect the engine to sound, depending on the type of car you are driving. Ok the cars are fictional (although it's not that difficult to guess which vehicle they represent), so we have no real life comparisons to make, but the team at Bugbear do a solid job of producing something that although not outstanding, isn't distracting either.

    Sound effects when hitting other cars or scenery are certainly not overdone, a usual pitfall for this type of game, and that in itself is a refreshing side of the experience not to be underestimated. Sadly many of the tracks don't feature packed grandstands, so crowd noise is pretty much non-existent in the game. This is honestly a bit of a shame and takes away much of the big event atmosphere, leaving track action feeling a little flat and emotionless for the majority of the time .

    Other in car effects such as the sound of broken metal scraping on damaged pieces of the car, or the wonderful noise of gravel as it rumbles around the wheel arches and bounces of the underside of the car are very underplayed in this game. This is an area the title would do well to focus on in future updates, as the majority of events are held on loose surface locations and along with debris strewn across the course should have more of an audio impact when driving in an event.

    RD Score: 6.5 out of 10
    Next Car Game: Wreckfest needs a better title, period. It's just annoying. Really really annoying. Other than that the game is actually a whole load of fun to play, and very much delivers on its core promise of providing entertaining racing with realistic and impressive damage in a host of interesting and different tracks and vehicles. That side of the game is, quite simply, perfect. Sadly exceptionally slow development has hampered the games growth, with several patches causing issues pretty much putting off the majority of the title's core fan base. That's a shame really, as Bugbear Entertainment really seem to be hitting their stride now as Wreckfest has benefitted from a number of very strong recent updates.

    Still lacking many of the proposed career features and car development options, the core base of the game is frankly pretty outstanding. If Bugbear stick with it, flesh out the content and offline career depth, Wreckfest could be brilliant.

    Oh yeah, its coming to consoles soon too !

    Thanks once again for reading our latest review article. We hope you enjoyed the read! Please do check out our previous summaries of Assetto Corsa and Automobilista here, DiRT Rally and American Truck Sim here, What's Upcoming here, Forza Motorsport 6 and Forza Motorsport Apex here and iRacing.com here.

    Next up we will be having a poke around what Project CARS has to offer. Watch this space!

    Do you agree with our scores? Next Car Game Wreckfest fan? Let us know in the comments section below!
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
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  2. Nox

    Staff Premium

    Don't own this title; I've been waiting for them to release a finished product first. Feels like I've been waiting forever.
    • Agree Agree x 6
  3. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    Sim Racing News Editor Staff Premium

    Yeah its not exactly "finished", but man its fun! :D
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Keith Joyce

    Keith Joyce
    Stercus accidit Premium

    Why wait? This game has me laughing out loud every time I play it - and that's just watching the AI... :roflmao::roflmao: Seriously though, it's where I do all my Turn 1 pre-race preparation for RD Club races. :whistling::whistling:
    • Haha Haha x 5
  5. Nox

    Staff Premium

    Because, in general (there are exceptions) I don't like pre-orders and early access games. I like a finished product.
  6. Keith Joyce

    Keith Joyce
    Stercus accidit Premium

    Fair enough Andrew but by the time this product is finished I'll be bored and on to the next big thing - it's entertaining me till then though.
  7. Nox

    Staff Premium

    Exactly, you're diluting your experience with the game. Your 10 hours (for example) with Wreckfest unfinished, with less features and more bugs will not be as entertaining as my 10 hours with Wreckfest finished. And in the meantime, I have plenty of other games to keep me busy.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Paul Bennett

    Paul Bennett

    To be fair it's not buggie just unfinished, it has a good concept just needs to polished. The mod guys are pretty active mostly with arcade type stuff, but the new UK Banger mod is fun only 2 tracks at the moment but they are MadCowie inputs an approved. With old classic's like the Ford Granda, Jag an Volvo for wrecking with more to come.
    • Like Like x 2
  9. M D Gourley

    M D Gourley

    Another great write up...
    I have had this game since it was introduced as Next Car Game and although progressing slowly it is absolutely fantastic as an addition to my other titles. The sim like FFB on my T300RS is very good and driving the cars in H Pattern is a real blast....for me personally, well worth the admission price:D
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  10. kamackeris


    This has convinced me to get it at the next steam sale. Do we run this here on RD?
  11. Paul Watkins

    Paul Watkins
    The Mighty Forth Team Premium

    Just thought I'd have a go at making a skin for the Banger Mod which can be added to Wreckfest. This has potential I think for Banger fans and especially old ex Banger drivers!!;) Woka.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016
    • Like Like x 1