Imagine a demolition derby but with slightly armored lawnmowers where you can destroy and run over the drivers of the other landscaping equipment? That's something you can do in Wreckfest, the new, but super long-in-development racing game from developer Bugbear and publisher THQ Nordic.
Wreckfest is a demolition themed racing game currently available on PC and coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this fall that embraces the dirtier side of what players will recognize as a game design very similar to the Forza series. It features actual derbies with challenges to wreck opponents, alongside a variety of more traditional racing options for different classes of vehicles for both solo and online multiplayer play.
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And it plays great too if you have racing wheel or controller. Wreckfest is a little awkward to play with a keyboard, as are most racing titles. Online play however, can be messy to get into but worthwhile for the derby matches. There were a little over 100 servers each time we checked and most of them are empty, with a few nearly full at all times. There are quality of life issues with how the lobby works (Typing in lobby chat for instance will switch the control scheme away from controller to keyboard, and resets you back to not ready, meaning you can miss the race start) but it's all worth it if you can get into a derby match.
We can't stress enough how fun having up to 24 players trying to smash each other in an effort to get the most takedowns is. And it almost doesn't matter what class if vehicle you can bring. Our highlight match saw a mix of muscle cars and trucks, three buses, and one giant piece of farm equipment all speeding around an enclosed map which looked like a live-action version of a Rocket League stadium as car parts (and cars) flew all over the place. It was spectacular, fun, and hilarious. It's what Wreckfest does so well but it needs the player counts to support that. Racing is fun too, certainly.
Wreckfest is visually impressive, with interesting and varied track designs that take advantage of the slip-and-side off-raid racing style and paved circuits. There are tiny, super intense tracks, and larger, longer races - many of which feature obstacles for player vehicles to crash through and send flying. The same can be said for the vehicles themselves which offer an impressive mount of detail, especially when they're in pieces...
There's highly detailed damage modelling for all of Wreckfest's vehicles (yes, you can damage parts on the lawnmowers too) which alongside the game's physics are the highlight of the game. Gameplay is built around a career-style progression system where there are circuits and events to play to earn points to unlock the next set, and once a full set is complete, you can access the next one. The interface and career system looks straight out of the Forza Motorsport games and so we're going to keep making that comparison.
There's a lot to do, and players can customize their vehicles along the way, from the visual side with colors and decals, to tuning actual parts and armor, and upgrading their rides along the way. Again, it's remarkably similar to Forza and that's not a bad thing, even if it doesn't have the same polish.
“Wreckfest is not just motorsport – it is motorsport with an attitude. An attitude we love."
- THQ Nordic’s Managing Director, Klemens Kreuzer
While the game offers a path for progression and unlocking championships and with them, more vehicles, along the way - it's really the driving where Wreckfest stands out. The physics and damage systems encourage and reward aggressive techniques, even if it's just the visual pleasure of flying tires and crushed up cars doing flips. On a short race, players my find themselves drop from the top three to back of the pack because of how an unlucky pile-up occurred around a sharp bend, but that's okay. Restart again.
Wreckfest does one thing notably better than other racers - it makes repeating a race for a better position more worth it. You don't feel so bad losing positioning when it's because of onscreen mayhem. The onscreen mayhem is the reward. There are also challenges attached to events which help encourage some, let's say, risky behavior.
The price point on Wreckfest is steep given its offerings versus other major racers but what's there is worthwhile. Wreckfest looks great and runs great but doesn't go as deep as we hoped and the question is whether or not it has staying power. Post-launch content is promised that'll add more, but Wreckfest is more for the hardcore and already-sold-on-it players who we expect will be satisfied, at least until the next racer comes along.
Wreckfest released June 14, 2018 for PC and releases November 20, 2018 for PS4 and Xbox One. Screen Rant was provided a copy for review.