Four years since its release, Dirt Rally 2.0 remains the last word in rally simulations, and Codemasters is finally back with the long-awaited sequel. Only this time, it comes with the full World Rally Championship treatment, including the teams, drivers, cars, and stages. It's called EA Sports WRC, and it's barely two months away, slated for a Nov. 3 release.
WRC will launch with 17 rally locations—an impressive number that even goes beyond the 13 of the official 2023 calendar—with the Central European Rally co-hosted by Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic arriving in a free update after release. As for cars, it'll include not only all WRC, WRC2, and Junior WRC-class vehicles, but also 68 historic rally cars, which the studio says span six decades of the sport.
It's also built on a new engine. Previous Dirt Rally games utilized Codemasters' long-running, in-house Ego technology, but with EA Sports WRC comes a switch to Unreal Engine. This will surely enable more modern graphical features, which Codies' titles have been lacking in recent years, but sim racers shouldn't fret about a potential setback to physics. The studio worked hard to convert Dirt Rally's beloved driving model to the Unreal platform and even improve upon it, now calling it the Dynamic Handling System.
The developers built the new dynamics with input from WRC competitors, including former JWRC driver Jon Armstrong, who's credited as a designer on the title. Codemasters says it's punched up the audio presentation on a per-car basis as well, further enhancing the immersion.
This being a Codemasters rally title, though, you probably weren't overly concerned about whether it'd be a satisfying drive. The single-player career experience, though, remains a big question mark, as it was probably the area in which Dirt Rally was historically the most deficient. EA Sports WRC addresses this as well, with a Builder mode. Here, players will supposedly be able to architect their own top-class rally car inside and out, choosing everything from underlying mechanical components to interior and exterior design, before pitting their creation against the established competition of Ford, Toyota, and Hyundai in the championship. Rumors had teased this feature well before the game's announcement, and we're very pleased to see they weren't fooling.
The Dirt team's first rally sim in years is shaping up to be a solid one, then, and you can look forward to our impressions as we near release. EA Sports WRC 23 will launch on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles, as well as PC via Steam and the EA app. And by the way, it'll even support cross-platform multiplayer, so you can vie for the top time against your friends, no matter what box they're gaming on. Hallelujah.
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