When the PS5 was released, there was already a vehicular combat game that was aiming to be the next blockbuster. It came in the form of Destruction AllStars, which, despite its ambitions, has failed to strike a chord with most gamers. As statistics on PS-Timetracker demonstrate, the game has been steadily losing the attention of its player base. PS5 gamers who are fans of the genre need not despair, however, because there is a new kid on the block that shows great potential to crush its competition.
Wreckfest, developed by Bugbear, was originally released on last-gen consoles in 2019 and on PC in 2018. Recently, the game received a PS5 upgrade that is available for early access to PS Plus subscribers and will be available to all players for purchase on the 1st of June 2021.
Gameplay – Limitless Opportunities For Chaos
Wreckfest is a no-frills racing game. There is no storyline to get bogged down in or any character names to remember. All you need to do is rev up the game and pick an event to participate in. Of course, in the beginning, many events are locked until you complete certain prior events and progressing through the game unlocks several vehicles to use and modifications to try.
As a racing game, it offers a nice variety of tracks and an impressive selection of vehicles to use that includes tough muscle cars, school buses and even lawnmowers, to name a few. The handling of the vehicles hit a nice sweet spot between being too arcadey and too much of a driving sim. Although you will not be drifting around corners at high speeds like your average Need for Speed game, you also will not be fooled into thinking you are playing Gran Turismo.
Wreckfest will satisfy both casual players and gamers that want a bit of a challenge. This is thanks to the multitude of settings available to fine-tune your car bashing experience. Everything from steering sensitivity to brake saturation can be adjusted to your liking. Features such as ABS, traction control and stability control can also be changed to create a difficulty level that is just right for you. A nice way of adding an additional challenge is to change gear shifting from automatic to manual.
Many of the events in career mode are your typical kind of races you will find in most racing games: you and a fleet of competitors race laps around a track in pursuit of a first-place victory. The opportunities to bully your way around and bash competitors are there, and it sure is fun, but the winning strategy is often to focus on speed rather than muscle.
For fans of mayhem and destruction, the demolition derbies are probably where you will be spending most of your time. These events have you crashing and bashing your competitors to either score the most points or be the last driver with a running vehicle. These events are where this title shines and sets itself apart from most racing games on the market. There certainly is a primal kind of joy to be gained from throwing caution to the wind and ramming head-on into your rivals. These events feel intense and come with all the excitement of a contact sport.
With tracks that have you doing loop-de-loops and events that have you speeding in a harvester, Wreckfest certainly does not take itself too seriously. During moments that have you racing a couch or sending your rivals flying off their lawnmowers, the game reminds you that it has a good sense of humor. Although the wackiness and mayhem do not come at the cost of quality, there are a few aspects of the game that feel like they fall a little short of being fully realized.
Firstly, it is criminal for a game this fun to not have local multiplayer. It is potentially the perfect party game. Secondly, while the game kept a smooth 60 FPS framerate throughout my time with it, there was still the feeling that the cars lacked a certain sense of speed which did dampen the excitement just a little bit.
Perhaps my biggest gripe with the game is that it is a paid upgrade, so players who bought the game on PS4 will need to cough up some money if they want all the PS5 bells and whistles. While the improvements are certainly welcome, it is easy to question whether the price tag is truly worth it.
Graphics and Audio – Good Just Got Better
Most of the upgrades have to do with the visuals. Owners of the PS5 version will enjoy it at 4K resolution and 60 frames-per-second. This is in addition to a myriad of visual improvements that include an increased amount of foliage, dynamic dirt on vehicles, and improved shadows, particles, and environment lighting.
Much like the PS4 version, the game features damage effects on the vehicles. As your ride takes a beating, metal will dent and break, eventually leading to doors and bumpers falling off. In addition to providing a nice visual indication of how much of a wrecking you are taking, the damage effects make ramming your opponents feel all the more destructive.
The game also features a head-banging rock soundtrack that blends perfectly with the mayhem of the destruction derbies in the game. Vehicles sound powerful, and every collision brings with it the satisfying sound of metal smashing on metal.
While these features are nice, Wreckfest is probably not the title to pick up if you are looking for bleeding-edge graphics or immersive 3D audio. Nevertheless, neither the audio nor the visuals disappoint.
Multiplayer and DLCs – Take The Havoc Online
When you are not completing tournaments in single-player mode, you will be jumping into the often-chaotic online multiplayer events. Servers have been typically full, and it has not been difficult at all for me to find an event to participate in. This is to be expected, considering the fact that it was one of the PS Plus games for May. However, with its addictive gameplay loop, it would be nice to see it retain a strong player base going into the future.
Quite conveniently, multiplayer mode features both public matches where you compete against players around the world and private matches if you want to keep the metal-bending madness between you and your friends.
DLCs available to purchase include car packs and customization items packs. The array of DLC is not too vast and does not impede on the gameplay if you are not willing to open your wallet. However, for those who are interested, rolling up to the start line in a police vehicle or an ice-cream truck will certainly turn heads.
DualSense – Feel The Rumble
One of the biggest pulls the PS5 currently has over its competitors is the DualSense controller, which has quite a few interesting features that enhance immersion and add another dimension to gameplay. With the release of the the console but a few months behind us, not many games have had the opportunity to make full use of the DualSense’s features. Wreckfest, however, gives a good indication of the controller’s potential.
The haptic feedback makes the varied surfaces of the racetracks feel quite different from each other. Whether you are racing on smooth asphalt or a rough dirt road, you will feel it as much as you see it.
The adaptive triggers also add an additional layer of immersion. When pushing down on the left trigger, you feel resistance like you might feel when pushing your foot down on a brake pedal in a real car. You can also feel a little click in the right trigger every time the gears change. These features, in conjunction, take you off your couch and put you right into the driver’s seat.
Wreckfest was reviewed on PS5.