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Wreckfest review for PS4, Xbox One


Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment
Medium: Blu-ray/Digital
Players: 1-16
Online: Yes
ESRB: T

Wreckfest, from noted racing developer Bugbear Entertainment, is launching this week on both PS4 and Xbox One, coming roughly a year after the full release of the destruction derby themed racer hit PC. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign some years back, Wreckfest (formerly titled “Next Car Game”) manages to fill a gap in the racing genre that hasn’t seen much movement as of late. Namely, a destruction focused racer that features realistic damage modeling and vehicle wear and tear, housed in inventive events and occasionally ludicrous vehicle options. 

In that regard, I think Wreckfest certainly delivers. While the career mode lacks any sort of narrative structure, I actually appreciated the straight forward nature of the presentation. Career mode is split up into various championship series, introducing the player to lower-class vehicle options at the onset, and eventually leading to faster, and more unique vehicles in the latter half of the game. These are largely made up of demolition derby type vehicles, trucks, and so on. But you’ll also get more unique vehicles, like riding lawn mowers, along with events to put those unique vehicles through their paces. 

Driving controls lean more towards the arcade-style feel of racing, with an emphasis on drifting around corners and turns, but those that play popular racing games like Forza casually may be surprised by the early difficulty curve. There’s no racing line to follow, and A.I. drivers are extremely aggressive, so you’ll really need to learn the tracks, and may find yourself falling behind 1st place often in the early hours of the game. You can scale difficulty, tune various options on the car, and make adjustments that fit your playstyle, all of which will likely be beneficial to more veteran racing fans. 

There’s some customization options present, with different vehicles to either purchase or win via events, a livery system to place skins and customize colors, and various part upgrades to improve your vehicle’s performance. All of this is relatively straightforward compared to other racing games and works well enough. I do appreciate the look of the vehicles in this game though, they really nail that derby aesthetic with the various preset skins across all vehicle types. 

Single-player progression consists of an experience/leveling system. Leveling up grants you access to better parts, and you’ll earn experience simply by completing events. This same leveling system carries into multiplayer modes as well, so you’ll pretty much earn experience throughout the game regardless of what you prefer to do. In single-player mode, you’ll also earn in-game currency used for purchasing cars and parts. Wreckfest does a pretty good job in balancing out currency won with what you have available to purchase at any given time, so as long as you stick to a few vehicles at a time, you’ll generally be able to afford upgrades without any issues. 

Wreckfest’s multiplayer mode may lack some modern bells and whistles, but at least it works really well. Divided up into Quick Match, Derby Servers, Racing Servers, and Special Event Servers, I had no issues prior to launch finding people to play with, and virtually no connection or lag issues, which seemed pretty exceptional to be honest. You can create your own server focused on a specific race or event types, restrict car classes, change the timer on vehicle resets, select tracks and so on. Or you can opt to just view the server list, which will give you every room type available along with player count. Once in a room, you can see the ping status of every player, which seems to update constantly while waiting for a match to start. There is a vote to kick option in the room, requiring a handful of people to approve before being successful, but useful in keeping the rooms from filling up with people that try to ruin the fun for everyone else. 

One last thing to note, with the patch that hit today (1.03 as of this review), I’ve seen the overall performance improve on PS4 quite a bit. Load times can still be a bit sluggish, but they’ve definitely managed to improve those. Also, the temporary lag/freezing menu issue I kept coming across in the garage/shop menus appears to be gone altogether. Besides that, the game runs really well, even on a base PS4, and doesn’t seem to suffer on the framerate side even when the track is filled with little bits of debris in full races. 

All in all, Wreckfest is absolutely worth checking out on consoles. Having not played it on PC I can’t 100% say how it compares to that version of the game, but as far as console racing games go, Wreckfest certainly feels like one of the best this gen. The various modes, the unique demolition derby events, and awesome destruction modeling on display really make for an entertaining, no-nonsense type of racing game. I’d highly suggest checking it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Note: THQ Nordic provided us with a Wreckfest PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A