With the WRC license Scandinavian flicking itself to EA in 2023, WRC Generations may represent the last official effort developed by KT Racing for now – and the studio has certainly shot the works at it. The culmination of a seven-year stint on the series, WRC Generations combines gorgeous effects and great handling with the most generous selection of rally stages I’ve seen anywhere, and the result is the best and most laudably comprehensive rally game of KT’s tenure. That said, last year’s WRC 10 held that title previously, and most of Generations’ improvements relative to it are otherwise largely iterative.
WRC Generations features a massive 21 rally locations, including all 13 of the events from this year’s official championship, plus a further eight bonus rallies – those are locations that aren’t on the 2022 calendar but are included because why the heck not? I’ve played rally games that have arrived with fewer countries than the bonus locations in Generations alone. It towers over even the excellent Dirt Rally 2.0, which eventually racked up 13 locations after its run of DLC was complete.
Series veterans will note that a lot of the stages themselves are repeats from previous games, but I like having them all here in one package with consistent features. That said, I do miss my beloved Australia (last seen in WRC 8) and Poland (last seen in WRC 7), which are conspicuous in their absence. KT Racing has already let fans know they will not be added later, which is a shame, though it seems recalcitrant of me to gripe too much considering the glut of countries that did make the cut.
The new Swedish stages are a big highlight, and are easily amongst the best-looking routes in the whole series. The snow in particular is uncannily realistic whipping past it at high speed, with roads flanked with sloping piles of soft clumps as the ploughed edges encroach back onto the stages. It looks seriously excellent at night, too, and it’s a great showcase for Generations’ terrific lighting, from the glow of campfires to the way the headlights cut through the woods. A mix of wide-open blasts and incredibly narrow channels, Sweden is extremely strong in Generations and is now one of my preferred spots – even though the snow rallies like Sweden and Monte Carlo traditionally don’t rank too high on my list of favourites.
It’s worth noting that on new consoles, Generations offers a choice between a 1080p/60fps performance mode and a 4K/30fps graphics mode, and after spending time with both I’ve settled on the former. Even at a quarter of the resolution the stages are still rich with detail, and I’ve noticed no screen tearing – which has been an occasional bugbear for this series in the past. As with WRC 10, slowing down to scrutinise roadside elements close up does reveal some murkiness (and I wouldn’t really put the cars and their fairly mediocre damage modeling in the same class as Forza, GT, or even Dirt) but in motion Generations is otherwise a slick and vibrant racer with strong lighting effects.
There remains an excellent rhythm to Generations’ handling, which has been very good for several instalments now. The loose gravel driving is still the best; dancing through corners and feeling the weight of the car on the cusp of out-of-control is brilliant stuff – as is the feeling of your car gripping up at the perfect moment as you pitch it sideways at the apex. Asphalt handling feels a little less sticky than previous years, too, which makes Generations feel pleasingly less twitchy at times. This makes it easy to like on a controller, which is good news for those of you without a wheel. It’s still very responsive, but it doesn’t seem to interpret steering input on a controller so aggressively.
KT Racing’s use of the PS5 haptic triggers is also top notch – particularly under heavy braking – although it probably got a bit too ambitious piping so many collision noises through the DualSense’s speaker. Things have a habit of sounding a bit more like a can full of rocks than a car collision. The DualSense is a great controller but it’s a poor substitute for headphones or a real sound system when it comes to the violent tapestry of sounds and ruckus required by a modern racing game.
Like WRC 10 and WRC 9 before it, Generations again forces us to begin our careers in the WRC 2 or WRC 3 feeder series. This makes perfect sense from a realism point of view and for anybody who’s picking up Generations as their first WRC game, but it continues to make no sense from the perspective of someone who just did this same thing last year. It just seems so arbitrarily strict to force us to annually apprentice for a shot at racing in the main series. If you’re not going to check my save data can you at least take my word for it that I know what I’m doing?
KT Racing has, however, completely changed its approach to the Privateer career option, which lets you build your own team and design your own car. In WRC 10, Privateer mode was locked behind the completion of all the historical events in its special Anniversary mode, which was absolute madness. In Generations, it’s mercifully available immediately, and I found it definitely helped rejuvenate my enthusiasm for slogging out more seasons in the minor leagues. With Generations’ livery and sticker editor (which functions similarly those available in Forza Horizon 5 and Gran Turismo 7) I was able to design a modern homage to the ’90s Repsol Escort of Carlos Sainz, and I’ve felt much more ownership over my career progression in a car I can properly call my own.
There’s a little bit of trial and error required in the livery editor, as you need to leave space for Generations to automatically place official rally logos and competitor details (and if you don’t, things will overlap and look terrible), but overall it works well. Best of all, unlike in WRC 10, Generations allows us to share designs and download them from other players. Even if you don’t have quite what it takes to master the art tools in the livery editor – and it is something that takes patience – you can rest assured rally fans across the world will be producing pitch-perfect historic replicas and hot new wraps for all the cars before you know it. Many of the historical cars in Generations are missing legacy sponsors, but there’s no way they’ll be missing for long now fans have the tools to both fix them and disseminate them to all.
Torquing ’bout My Generations
WRC 10’s slightly premature 50th Anniversary mode may have celebrated the series’ milestone birthday a year too early, but it still brought with it the biggest salvo of historical content since KT Racing started adding classic cars in WRC 8. While Generations lacks a similarly retro-focussed standalone mode, it does retain the actual cars. So it’s largely the same assortment of world championship-winning cars, with a few extras – including worthwhile additions like a 1979 Ford Escort MkII and 1980 Fiat 131 Abarth. Marcus Grönholm’s Drivers’ Championship- and Manufacturers’ Championship-winning 2002 Peugeot 206 is also here, albeit tied up in pre-order DLC limbo at this point.
It remains a very good list, though it’s disappointing Generations couldn’t deliver a few more fresh models in this last hurrah. It definitely would’ve been nice to have seen a first-generation Focus and a second-generation Impreza, for instance. Synergistic, even, considering the name of the game and the fact they’d be the older brother and younger brothers, respectively, to models that are here. Dirt Rally 2.0 has these cars and more, and the garage there does still handily pip Generations despite its own baffling lack of Toyota.
If you like the new stuff better than the old stuff you’re also in luck, because the 2022 WRC series has seen the debut of the new Rally1 hybrid WRC cars, all three of which are included in Generations. The Rally1 cars, which now feature a 100kW hybrid unit mated with the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that’s powered WRC cars for the last decade, are pretty interesting to drive Generations thanks to their electric boosts. Basically, having the hybrid power up our sleeves gives the Rally1 cars temporary bursts of 500bhp, with further bursts possible after regenerating energy while braking.
Just like in real-life, Generations allows us to select from three power mapping modes before a stage – a powerful but short boost, a balanced option, and a less potent boost that lasts longer. I could definitely feel the extra oomph when it was available, and it’s an engaging challenge to wrangle this new aspect of the cars and get that extra power down on the road.
Source: IGN Video Games All