In this article, we take a look at the racing game Wreckfest. I used to play a lot of racing games, but for a long time now, none of them have caught my attention. This changed when Wreckfest came out. There are several reasons to get excited about Wreckfest. First, it's created by Bugbear Entertainment, a Finnish gaming company known for their high-quality racing game series FlatOut. Second, the game has been in development for four years, so they have certainly been dedicated. The end result can be summarized as follows: Wreckfest offers a great combination of arcade racing, exceptionally well created crash physics and a kicking soundtrack. Let's go through some of the reasons for all this high appraisal.
I’ve been longing for a racing game with great driving mechanics and a competitive, yet fun racing system. This is exactly what Wreckfest offers. I’m not the biggest racing game enthusiast and I haven’t played any of the most recent racing titles. To be brutally honest, Rocket League and racing in GTA V Online are my most recent experiences in online racing so I’m definitely a racing game casual. However, I’m always on the hunt for a fun-loving racing game and for now, Wreckfest managed to secure that spot.
If you are looking for a realistic driving simulator with modern sports cars, look elsewhere.
Wreckfest is your game if you’re looking for a fun-loving racing game with tuning, nostalgia, hilarious crashes and, as the title suggests, a whole wreckfest awaiting you and your friends.
As mentioned previously, Bugbear is a Finnish small/mid-sized game company best known by their previous FlatOut racing game series. Thus, it’s clear why Wreckfest has such a brilliant physics engine. Furthermore, when it comes to that magical “feel” of the game, Wreckfest just feels right and maybe that is also part of the FlatOut heritage. Racing games must have a stable FPS, great controls and a real sense of speed, and competition. Wreckfest checks out on all this criteria. In addition, part of the nostalgia of the game stems from the soundtrack of the game. In lack of a better description: The rock and metal oriented soundtrack gets you into the mood for wrecking. The driving itself feels quite intuitive, yet the mechanics are also highly customizable which should appeal to the more hardcore racers.
Of course, the game deserves some criticism too. You can’t create a lobby with friends in order to join a server simultaneously, and the few servers that do exist are mostly empty or full. Luckily they’ve added official servers and if the game ever becomes more popular, there will be more servers. The online game lobby and the spectator view are also not the most intuitive. There are occasional trolls with a bus or a harvester and although it might be fun for a while, it gets old pretty quick.
I have to admit that Wreckfest came completely out of the blue for me. I follow the gaming industry quite actively, but it seems there are new releases daily, and there’s no way you can keep track of all of the releases. In any case, I’m very glad Wreckfest has finally seen daylight. I've been enjoying it for a good 20 hours and I think there's at least another ten hours of fun into it. The main criticism is aimed towards the single player challenges which are quite unsurprising. If you're looking for an enjoyable, yet semi-casual racing game continuing on the legacy of Mario Kart, Blur, and Need For Speed, then you need to look no further.
+ Wreckfest stands out positively from the grey mass of racing games that try too hard
+ The crash physics engine is exceptional and provides plenty of fun moments
+ The controls are intuitive and the soundtrack complements the mayhem, resulting in a fun-loving experience with a real sense of competition
- The realistic damage physics mode is ruthless, and definitely removes some of the fun from casual racing, so it's not recommended
- The single player challenges are unsurprising, repetitive and have arbitrary hindrances, like requiring a certain type of car to participate
- Don't expect hundreds of hours of gameplay unless you really fall in love with the engine. It is truly exceptional, but it's still only a damage engine
UPDATE: Marko says the following (no one asked him to do so, he just decided to):
I've been playing around with Wreckfest since it entered Early Access on Steam in 2014, back when it was still known as Next Car Game. At that point, it was already an impressive tech demo with excellent car damage modeling, but Bugbear clearly weren't satisfied with this so they changed engines mid-development and at one point were even rumored to be going out of business. Thankfully that wasn't the case, and Wreckfest has seen a slow but steady stream of updates over the last few years.
I've never actually tried the "final" game (probably should get around to that at some point), but it always felt like the successor to FlatOut 1 I've been waiting for since that game came out roughly a million years ago (2004, for those of you keeping score back home) with a hint of the old Destruction Derby games (even the car damage HUD, which is now almost identical to the one in those titles, used to be completely identical) and I really enjoyed that. I know some people prefer Flatout 2 and its HD remaster, Ultimate Carnage, but those replace the demo derby/folkrace sensibilities of the original game with what could be described as a poor man's Burnout that falls far short of Burnout AND FlatOut and just might feature the single worst implementation of rubberband AI I have ever seen in a video game. Luckily, Wreckfest is not that, and actually has a remarkably robust racing AI component which is capable of putting up a decent fight -- and of course, if you don't feel like racing, you should try some of the more insane courses such as Crash Canyon. Known as Crash Alley Run in the FlatOut games, that was already utter mayhem with eight cars, and now there's up to 24!
And come on now Pekka, who on earth listens to the in-game soundtrack when playing racing games? That's just... unethical!