While developer Bugbear Entertainment is best known for their work with the Flatout series, they have been working on the Early Access version of their next car game, officially labeled Wreckfest for quite some time. As I haven’t checked out the progress and improvements that have been made to the game since its first appearance on Steam, I was taking back by the enormous amount of work that has gone into the game. Previously, the game didn’t feature any dedicated career mode, something that fans have been begging for, and it also lacked true customization for each vehicle.
Any part imaginable can be purchased using in-game currency, including parts to increase performance and handling, as well as visual pieces to look your best before entering a demolition derby. Adding a thicker/heavier rear bumper, not only changes the car's appearance but acts almost like armor, adding more protection to your vehicle. There are thousands of possible combinations, so you won’t have to worry about ever seeing the same car during multiplayer races. During the presentation, it was also mentioned that Wreckfest includes Steam Workshop support.
The game’s Career mode starts players off with a barebones car, but it can be improved by upgrading parts after completing races. While I was limited to seeing only the starting cars, I was told that the progression in the Career mode would feel natural. As you progress, you’ll earn faster and more powerful cars to drive, instead of having players struggle with S rank vehicles from the start. Before putting an Xbox 360 controller in my hands, I was shown the realistic and dynamic wheel pressure system that reacts to the different types of tracks, and how you drive across them. Before venturing into the racing wheel rig that was setup in the THQ Nordic area, I raced through four of five races, ranging from the most basic asphalt oval track to a figure eight dirt road leading to plenty of destruction. There is a wide gamut of different assists that can be turned on and off. I played with some of them turned on, allowing for my car to become a crumpled wreck, but still drive relatively well enough. Getting severely damaged in any area, however, will limit your car's performance, while light damage only affects the car’s visuals. In one race, in particular, I slammed into an opposing car, blowing out the right, right side of the car in the process. Trying to turn for the remainder of the race became nearly impossible, but at least the crash was satisfying.
While racing, I can feel the love that Bugbear has poured into the game, creating a highly simulated experience, and yet I couldn’t help myself from driving into tire piles on the sides of the roads. As the name implies, one of the core features of the game is causing damage to your opponents. Sure, racing is important, but sending another car into a car, or taking a door off is just as important. The dirt road figure out was certainly a highlight of the racing courses, but the actual demolition derby events were highly enjoyable. As with the real life sport, you want to avoid hitting cars with the front of your car, as you’ll take damage at the same time.
There isn’t a solid release date for Wreckfest; however, Bugbear plans to release the game on PC, as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.