Wreckfest is one of the free PS Plus games for this month, and from what we’ve played, it’s a fun racing game. Let’s unpack what “fun racing game” means because the ironic part is every other open world game that has a vehicle component also has a racing side quest tucked somewhere in there. From Grand Theft Auto to Cyberpunk 2077 and even Yakuza: Like A Dragon, unless you love racing games on its own, you can find a racing game almost anywhere nowadays.
Since Burnout Paradise, I haven’t found another racing game that I would go out of my way to play on its own. Wreckfest gives players the experience of playing a racing game without being good at a racing game. In a way, it’s the same as the vehicle side content in open world games without much skill. Skill would definitely help out in completing challenges in later points in the game, but it’s really easy to plug and play without much consequence.
One thing that really made Wreckfest stand out on the PS5 was how they implemented the Dualsense controller to improve immersion. The more damage your car sustains, the tougher the resistance gets with your adaptive triggers. Wreckfest‘s controllers are actually a lot better than Destruction Allstars‘ adaptive triggers, if that says anything at all.
Once you start the Career mode in Wreckfest, you don’t need to join a multiplayer game to get everything what the game has to offer. You will receive AI generated opponents to race against, and of course to wreck. To advance to later challenges, you have to complete the score to unlock more challenges and meet the champion score to advance.
While you don’t need to complete every challenge in Wreckfest, it gives you enough chances to progress with the extras and objectives in each challenge. You could also progress with increased levels by winning challenges and buy extra cars and parts with the credits you win in every challenge. This makes progression a breeze, and is forgiving enough for players who aren’t skilled enough at racing or even at wrecking.
There are many challenges to complete in Wreckfest: The Banger Race, The Demolition Derby, and finally special challenges where you compete with special vehicles such as lawnmowers and buses. You’re encouraged to switch vehicles as some of the challenges would only take European cars for example or lawnmowers for the lawnmower race. It keeps things fresh, and you can also increase difficulty when it gets too easy or you can progress to multiplayer if you get bored with the random computer enemies.
One of the best parts of Wreckfest is how you can customize every car with your credits. From your derby car to your lawnmowers, you can change their look, paint job, and parts. You can have a car that’s just there as a “Crasher” car and you could also have a car that’s a “Racer” depending on what event you want to compete it.
The destruction derby stages is where the game really shines. Being the last car standing is the most fun part of the experience, and it’s really one of those “turn off your brain and just enjoy” races where you just look to create the most havoc as you can. There’s a wee bit of strategy involved, because the aim of the mode is really to be the last car standing, but overall its really just a fun romp, if nothing else.
One thing that’s a minor immersion breaking aspect is that the audience and everything outside the racing area appears to be quite static making them dull. More effort could’ve been made making the races appear a little more like the real world instead of “just a racing world”, which is a pity because the visual details of Wreckfest are actually quite decent for a racing game.
The audio in Wreckfest could also use a bit of work. Crashes and wipeouts don’t feel convincing, and the soundtrack doesn’t really get your blood pumping during a race. There’s a general lack of “oomph” here, and could be a major point of improvement.
The camera can also use some work as when you move your right analog stick, it’ll show you another camera shot rather than just moving the camera. It can get very confusing if you’re the type who constantly monitors your lead. It would’ve worked if the camera could be moved with the right analog stick to check your peripheral area to watch out for other cars. That being said, while more damage could affect your car’s performance, I feel that the handling and braking could’ve been a little tighter.
What we liked:
- Easy to use, fun destruction derby action.
- Customizing your vehicles.
- Free-flowing career mode.
- Buttery smooth performance with decent loading times.
What we didn’t like:
- Once the novelty ends, you’re left with a generic racing game.
- Camera controls need more work.
- Really lazy backgrounds and static audience breaks immersion.
Verdict: Wait for it
At the end of the day, once the Wreckfest novelty ends, you’re left with a generic racing game with uninspired design. It’s good that we received this title on PS Plus to try out, milk it for all its novelty, and then get far into the career mode, as it would have been hard to justify a full priced purchase for a title like this.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of fun to be had with the Career mode and even going multiplayer for some destruction derby action. There’s a bit of mileage to be had with the levelling system, car market, and customizing your vehicles, but the game doesn’t go deep enough to hook the players after all the destruction.
While Burnout Paradise and Forza Horizon are probably the gold standard when talking about open world racing games, both casuals and fans of the genre can briefly appreciate what Wreckfest can offer. If you don’t like racing games because you’re not good at them, there’s enough to get you started and then some. It’s easy to get into, but not enough to sustain interest after a while.