If anything can be learned from racing, nothing gets an audience going quite like a high-speed collision. As hazardous, frantic and often deadly as they are, the spectacle keeps pulling people back, to the point where the entire Burnout franchise is best known for its slow-mo crash gimmick. Wreckfest doesn’t just emulate this, it glorifies it. It takes the destructive concept as far as it can go without becoming realistic Mario Kart and lets the players loose inside its tracks. Best of all, it never takes itself seriously.
The actual damage reflected on the cars is highly detailed. Unlike other games where you can end up driving a crumpled burning heap of metal so long as it still has four wheels, here it lists off individual damage. The loss of brake fluid, rear spoilers being ripped off an engine damage is all reflected here. While it is by no means highly realistic, it means players need to contend with more disadvantages as they hurtle toward the end.
What’s more, the sheer variety of cars means you end up facing more than merely a mix of old bangers. You can quite easily end up with a school bus racing a modern Jaguar and a motorised lawnmower. A fair few of these are joke options, and they are by no means balanced, but damn if it’s not funny to watch the results. Many of these can even be customised further, with roll-bars and unique paint schemes.
Unfortunately, Wreckfest does have a few very noteworthy problems. Despite exiting Early Access, the game’s AI is overly simplistic, and will typically follow a direct route to win the race rather than engaging in high-speed crashes. Even when you do enter a demolition derby this doesn’t change, and it can be remarkably easy to eliminate yourself. As such this is a game which is only truly fun with friends, and that unfortunately hinders its potential. Furthermore, while it is receiving frequent patches, it is still prone to the odd crash (pun not intended) or even a full-on black screen.
Wreckfest is simple and pure fun. It’s a distilled version of the insane races found on Grand Theft Auto online, but the lack of weapons and greater emphasis on car damage still allows it to stand out on its own. You can semi-tactically choose where and how to bring down a rival, while also riding with a giant plexiglass blue shark mounted on the hood of your car, racing against a combine harvester. Just keep in mind that you do need a good group of friends to take full advantage of its destructive race courses.
WRECKFEST / DEVELOPER: BUGBEAR / PUBLISHER: THQ NORDIC / PLATFORM: PS4, XBOX ONE, PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (PC), NOVEMBER 20TH (PS4, XBOX ONE)