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EA Sports WRC preview: Career and Builders Mode, and a look into the sport’s history

Moments Mode is another new mode coming to EA Sports WRC
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As we get closer and closer to the EA Sports WRC release date on November 3, we have more information to share from a media briefing GLHF recently attended. While our first EA Sports WRC preview was all about cars and tracks, it's now time to discuss modes, and some additional tidbits related to the new features coming to the game.

One of this year's new features is regularity rallies, also known as navigation rallies or endurance rallies, and as senior creative director Ross Gowing points out, "this is a different way to experience all the content in the game."

Regularity rallies are a matter of "arriving at very specific points on a stage at specific points in time, with penalty points being given if you're one second too early or one second too late." This requires a different skill set, precision, and control than classic rally stages, "and we think it's a nice compliment" to them.

Going into more detail about the modes, the new Builder Mode will allow players to build their own rally car, and have it compete both online and offline. Players will be able to create a Rally1, Rally2, and Rally3 car, deciding on all sorts of technical details starting with where they want to place the engine in their chassis to influence weight distribution. Once you do that, you'll move on to the mechanical hub, where you can invest in parts across the areas you feel most important to your driving style.

EA Sports WRC Career Mode

Then you'll need to pick front and back halves of your car's body, going on to customize its appearance with air intakes, wing mirrors, and more. With the car's exterior look settled, it's time for the interior: steering wheel, gearbox, seat - everything you want to make the car feel truly yours. All that's missing now is a livery, which you'll be able to put together on the spot. Codemasters is keen to point out that the cars coming out of Builder Mode will be "perfectly balanced against the licensed cars in the game," and the limits placed on performance will ensure that no one can create "a monster" and "destroy everyone" online. "It's something we really wanted to make sure we had - a fair competition, both between built and licensed cars."

Moments Mode is another new mode coming to EA Sports WRC. As Codemasters puts it, it is "a remixed form" of Dirt Rally 2.0's daily challenges. "We've been able to leverage all the incredible moments from the 50-year history of WRC, and we've been able to use footage from their rally video streaming service real rallies to give the player context about what they're about to experience," says senior creative designer Ross Gowing.

Each day will feature a new challenge, with a 20 or 30-second video and a "game re-imagining" of the event, where we can "recreate the actions of our heroes." These challenges will not disappear after a single day, unlike the daily challenges from Dirt Rally 2.0, but will remain available for the entirety of the game's lifecycle. EA Play subscribers will also get exclusive Moments.

EA Sports WRC Career Mode staff

Career mode will be Codemasters' "most fully formed," and will allow you to create your own team and choose from which point you join the sport. While "some games force you to start at the bottom and work your way up, we want to give players the opportunity to dive right in the premier class, if that's what they want."

In the mode, you create a team, hire mechanics and teammates, a driver and co-driver crew, rent a car to compete in, and manage your garage throughout the season, including budgets. "We wanted to move away from the player infinitely acquiring a massive pile of cash," says Gowing, who takes pride in having put together "this budget management mechanic" that is a much "more realistic representation of the way the sport works”.

Players will be presented with a calendar, and with many events from the official WRC championship stages, and even some from supporting tournaments, sponsor trials and invitationals. You'll need to take care of the mechanics and their freshness, so that they keep time for repairs and their quality under control. If it feels a bit overwhelming, you can always go for a Championship Mode where you just drive, and that's it. Or, if you're an online player, Clubs allow you to set up asynchronous multiplayer sessions with a group of friends, without any need for everyone to be online at once. The host puts together an annual calendar, and participants can get it and out at their own pace.

A quick play mode will allow you to set up a 24-event championship, each with 24 stages, and compete against the AI, or even save your template and bring it online for 32-user sessions that can take advantage of this year's biggest addition, cross-play.

Dirt Rally was one of the toughest games in Codemasters' history, and the studio wanted to tackle that with its first official WRC game. That's why a new feature called Rally School comes with ten lessons on each of the different surfaces included in the game, with a time trial at the end of each course to test your progress. Some challenges will cover how to do a manual start, how to do manual gears, and more, ramping up in complexity as you go.

EA Sports WRC Rally School lesson select screen

Speaking of the visuals, WRC is introducing a livery editor, allowing players to create their own livery and share it with the community. Year 1 features a five-season Rally Pass, where you'll earn XP and unlock cosmetics, and for the first time ever, a Codemasters rally game comes with a photo mode, from which you'll be able to share pictures with the wider community.

The new surface degradation system is yet another interesting addition. Depending on the starting order, you'll more or less rutted surfaces, as more and more racers will driver over them with time. This will inevitably have an influence on your drive. "Players starting near the top will have an intact, relatively good surface in front of them, and those starting as 50ths will find a heavily rutted surface presenting a very different challenge."

Post-launch plans have already been outlined. Virtual reality support will be available in early 2024, but as you can read in our F1 23 review, it'll be PC-only, based on the Open VR standard. "We know people are looking forward to it and we want to make sure that that is everything they expect it to be, hence the delay," says Gowing. The same goes for the esports mode, scheduled for 2024, giving you "the opportunity to compete to be the fastest virtual driver in the world."

"I'm delighted to tell you that this is the biggest rally game we've ever made," Gowing chimes in, and speaking of sheer volume, there's a good chance he's right. As for quality, we'll need to wait just a bit longer before we can experience the game ourselves, and tell you more about it in the coming weeks. In the meantime, EA Sports WRC is out November 3 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S.