Home Game Reviews Wreckfest: Flatting Out the Best of Destruction Racing

Wreckfest: Flatting Out the Best of Destruction Racing

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Wreckfest The Beauty of the Race with Friends and Foes
Wreckfest The Beauty of the Race with Friends and Foes

Title: Wreckfest
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Released: June 14, 2018 (PC), August 27, 2019 (PS4, Xbox One), June 1, 2021 (PS5, Xbox Series X/S)
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 5
Platforms Available: PC Game, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Google Stadia, Nintendo Switch
Article Reading Time: 11 minutes

Wrecfest Drive Hard Die Last
Wreckfest: Drive Hard. Die Last.

Wreckfest: Bugbear’s FlatOut Resemblance

Ever since I was a kid, I adored the good old legendary FlatOut from Finnish studio Bugbear Entertainment, which in 2004 introduced its first game with a truly detailed and, dare I say, revolutionary racing car demolition model. It was simply something that, for example, Need for Speed couldn’t offer because of licensed cars, namely smashing your opponent’s car until it’s a piece of crumpled scrap and its driver flies through the windshield like a rag doll after crashing into a tree that you kind of helped him into. (This is my inner child self simply loved – no, don’t worry, I didn’t become a psychopath in adulthood) 

Wreckfest Flatting Out the Speed Curve and Racing
Wreckfest Flatting Out the Speed Curve

Following Titles in the Family 

The first FlatOut was followed by an even better second installment, perhaps the most revered by its community, and a few years after, another installment, which was defacto a double feature on “steroids” titled Ultimate Carnage. Later on, however, the brand was taken over by another studio that could have taken to it better, and over the next decade, two more not-very-good games were made that sealed the fate of this initially beloved franchise. Bugbear Entertainment, however, in 2017, once again made it known that they haven’t jumped with this type of racing game yet and served as a “spiritual successor” to their once legendary series, albeit with a completely independent game from the original and a different name – Wreckfest.

When the game was announced and later released, my FlatOut gamer heart raced with joy, and I had to buy it immediately. After just a few hours, I found out that this was the return of the king of demolition racing games.

Demolition – the Soul of the Game

As an avid player of the first FlatOuts, the most critical aspect of the game I was curious about was the demolition model… Here, right after the first collisions with opponents, it was absolutely clear – ONE OF THE BEST CAR DEMOLES IN GAMES!!!

Everyone at once signs off on the poor guy who takes it from you in precise detail; cars are shaped to the craziest shapes and sizes. There’s no more satisfying feeling than slamming into someone from behind, sending their car into the eternal hunting grounds, and watching their poor little vehicle fly several meters through the air over the barriers and flip onto the roof… It’s called the perfect disposal, and I felt like I was in seventh heaven during these moments.

Wreckfest Collision Damage Happened
Wreckfest Collision Damage Happened

Deepening the Gameplay over its Predecessors

However, the thing that elevated the experience towards FlatOut is also the independently destructible parts of the car, such as the front, rear, or side body parts, which are shown by a small diagram at the bottom corner of the screen, also included here, following the example of simulation games, is that the car is also divided into engine, transmission, brakes, and suspension. Of course, each part affects the car in a different way when they are damaged. A damaged engine has less power, a broken gearbox has longer delays when changing gears, the brakes do not brake your car evenly but drift sideways, and finally, the suspension which, when not in perfect condition, absorbs shocks worse on rough and uneven terrain which can also slow your car down or make it harder to control… Of course, this will not make your vehicle an unusable wreck. Still, it forces the player to try harder to give as good results as his undamaged pet at the beginning of the race. Therefore, these elements have their weight in the gameplay just right, but at the same time, it is still at the core of a rather arcade affair, which is spiced with many elements of games from the world of simulators.

Symphony of Destruction – Who knows…Knows

Speaking of independent body parts, another way in which Wreckfest differs from its 2004 and 2006 “grandfathers” is the additional armor. This didn’t exist in FlatOuts, and the cars were driven “light,” whereas Wreckfest is more inspired by real demolition derbies that are popular in America. It is possible to independently add both frontal and rear or side armor to the cars, which consists of various welded pipes, tees, metal mesh, and so on and so forth… From your pet, you can make a “mobile tank” which will not be hit by anyone on the road… However, it also has its price, and that is the weight of the car, which in Wreckfest plays a significant role, both if you crash with a heavier car into a lighter so this poor guy will fly like paper away and vice versa when hitting a heavier opponent we will experience the feeling that you hit a brick wall, The higher weight also affects handling, cornering and acceleration, the last possibility can be compensated by a more robust engine but the other two factors must be taken into account. 

Tactics is a Paradigm Before each Race

Therefore, before each race, it is necessary to consider what setup is ideal for a given type of event. For a demolition derby, you naturally want the heaviest armor possible. Speed is not so important, whereas speed and acceleration are crucial for a classic race, but even for such a race, it can’t hurt to at least protect your rear end against your rivals or your front end if you miss a corner and crash… The choice is always entirely up to you, and for each event, you simply make your own custom beast. To make things worse, in addition to the classic engine upgrades and armor modification, there is also the so-called “tuning,” where you can adjust the hardness of the tires that affect the behavior on different types of surfaces from asphalt to sand to gravel, the length of the gears which affect acceleration at the expense of top speed and vice versa, the brake engagement whether more front or rear and so on and so forth.

So the result is that you can adjust your car overall in terms of performance, acceleration, handling, drivability, durability, and weight depending on the type of race or demolition derby and, in the case of a race, also depending on the structure of the track depending on whether it is more of a speed circuit or a more technical circuit with more corners and all of this in addition to the surface you drive on which, by the way, is also shown for each circuit how much percentage and what ratio of, for example, asphalt or gravel and sand it contains and this will give the player a chance to prepare as best as possible for the most efficient driving. Again, however, as with the parts mentioned above of the car, such as the engine, gearbox, suspension, and so on, this doesn’t, of course, carry the massive weight of authentic and unadulterated titles from the world of simulators, but these elements are certainly felt and given some weight in the gameplay. 

Circuits and Artificial Intelligence

Now I can follow up on the circuits mentioned earlier, which are plentiful in Wreckfest, which also feel inspired primarily by the first FlatOut and often have several variations that you’ll be racing around, whether with friends, random players, or computer-controlled opponents. I’d first talk about the computer-controlled opponents, which only a few games have, and that is, like humans, the ability to learn… It’s natural that the first time you drive a circuit, it’s not a very clean ride and can be more like driving someone under the influence of alcohol. But of course, this changes with each lap, as you go around, you remember the circuit passages better, and you drive more and more cleanly, which is also true for your computer opponents who learn the track with you and while at the beginning they tend to crash and take corners wider and sometimes even go off the track, after a few laps their driving is more consistent and cleaner.

Awesome Multiplayer: Friends and Foes

Another crucial part of the game, as I’ve already bitten off, is playing with friends and random players… The game includes multiplayer and options for official public servers, public player-created servers, and private play where you can set the type of event, allowed cars, number of players, and other things that would enable you to have fun together with your friends and computer players that can be added to the number if you don’t want too empty lobbies or if you’re not going to have a one-on-one match with a friend, either during a race or a demolition derby. Career races and public multiplayer servers are up to twenty-four riders in size. Private up to a maximum of eight.

Careers, Cars, and Specials 

I’ve just mentioned the career mode, to which there’s certainly something to be said as well… Career consists of 5 main championships in which there is a wide variety of events from classic races to demolition derbies to special challenges with an assigned car, these challenges are for example races or derbies with a combine harvester, a school bus or a couch on wheels… Yes, it’s not a joke! Considering the often grotesque course of these races, we could actually talk about the best joke and the funniest part of the game when I cried with laughter more than once, especially with my friends when we took these cars to our private game… But you just have to experience this for yourself; at first glance, it sounds silly, but it really is… 

Demolitionisation is Cool

There is something unmistakable about a demolition derby or a race with an armored garden tractor or a couch on wheels. In the game, as mentioned earlier, there are a large number of cars which, on top of everything else, vary according to wheel drive, whether front, rear, or all four, body type from compact to mid-size to full-size or a special class which includes the combines above, buses, couches and so on… This is also often present in the various career events when these diverse criteria are present, and the game frequently exudes driving with different types of cars.

Brutality of the Audio

It’s worth mentioning the way audio and visuals are presented in the game. Music played an important role in the old FlatOut game, particularly in the latter. Though, the new game doesn’t have the same emphasis on music, the predominantly metal soundtrack is still excellent and adds a sense of brutality to the demolition. The main issue is that there are only around twenty tracks available, which is relatively few, and the music can become repetitive even though it’s still good.

Solid Visuals are a Must

When it comes to the visuals of the game, there’s hardly anything to complain about. Considering the game’s release date, it looks quite solid, and if you’re playing it on a PS5 at 60fps, it is an absolute treat for the eyes. The sunset in the game is particularly stunning, with the sun’s rays adding a touch of realism to the scene. Overall, the game appears to be free of any major bugs or glitches. Although there are a few minor exceptions that are barely noticeable, it’s essential to appreciate the fact that this game originated from indie developers. It’s impressive how much effort they have put in to ensure that the game runs smoothly and looks beautiful.

Breaking into the Last Curve

I’ve now covered everything essential that a lover of old FlatOut needs to know… In short, it is a racing game with a divine demolition, driving, and collision model, a large number of cars and tracks, detailed configuration of most of the available vehicles, good AI with the ability to learn, and a great multiplayer game whose fun is mainly greatly supported by many funny cars with an excellent technical condition, visuals and soundtrack which, however, lacks a more significant variation of songs which can be considered as the only flaw in the beauty of this game. 

This game pays tribute to the legendary FlatOut series, which was at the top of this subgenre. I have no choice but to say that this is a MUST-PLAY for demolition racing game lovers, and I hope that we will see a second installment of Wreckfest someday.

Wreckfest Purchase

Wreckfest on Steam – Demolition derby racing mayhem. Smash and crash your way to victory.
Wreckfest for PS4/PS5 on PlayStation Store – Buckle up for intense, physics-based, soft-body damage racing.
Wreckfest for Xbox on Microsoft Store – Drive hard. Die last. Realistic damage in this ultimate racing banger.
DRM Free Wreckfest for PC on GOG – Drive with Friends, drive with Foes
Collide Epically buying Wreckfest on Epic Store

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