The Art of Crashing: Is Wreckfest 2019's Best Racing Game?
No matter your preferred gaming system or genre of choice, fans of racing and car games these days have it good. Whether it’s arcade driving games, hardcore PC racing simulators or the automotive sandboxes that are Forza and Gran Turismo, fans of racing games certainly don’t struggle for choice.
And with such a saturated market, it can be hard to find new and interesting racing games that stand out from the crowd, but that’s exactly what we’ve found with Wreckfest—a title from Finnish developer Bugbear Entertainment.
Bugbear is the same developer behind the old FlatOut series and Wreckfest draws much of its inspiration from that as well as other classic games like Street Rod. Wreckfest was originally released on PC last year and just a couple weeks ago made its debut on PS4 and Xbox One.
As it’s name suggests, crashing is a big part of the game—but more than that, Wreckfest is a well-done and enjoyable take on demolition derby, grassroots “banger” racing and other sorts of automotive mayhem that might take place on a Saturday night at your local fairgrounds.
And when it comes to the aforementioned crashes and destruction, Wreckfest nails it with a detailed damage model that actually comes close to BeamNG but in a more polished and more structured way.
And despite the all of the emphasis on crashes and mayhem, Wreckfest’s driving physics are actually quite realistic—especially if you turn off all of the driving aids. With races and happening on both paved and unpaved surfaces, you’ll find a rewarding and fun challenge as you wrestle with the game’s variety of vehicles.
Because the brutal punishment they take, none of the vehicles are licensed, but they are all thinly disguised versions of real cars—and the roster includes everything from a Ford LTD wagon to a Honda CRX and everything in between.
Like other racing games, choosing your car is all about finding a balance between acceleration, top speed and handling, but with the added challenge of durability. Some of the sports cars and are nimble in the corners, but are much easier to be spun out while the slower, more lumbering vehicles can take more hits.
There are also a bunch of specialty vehicles that include RVs, lawnmowers, school buses and even a sofa with an engine that makes for some hilariously enjoyable and destructive racing opportunities.
You can even race two cars stacked atop each other, which are both challenging and fun to master with their high center of gravity and high likelihood of dramatic roll-over crashes.
More than that, Wreckfest nails the grassroots aesthetic of this sort of racing with its battered, spray paint covered vehicles that start the races looking haggard and end up much worse than that, often smashed into unrecognizable hunks of steel.
There’s even a surprisingly deep upgrade system where you can purchase and install both performance and cosmetic upgrades, as well as parts to beef up the amount of punishment your vehicle can take during a given event.
That last part is especially important because while Wreckfest features a number of different racing types, but just all of them end with parts strewn all about the track, and the biggest challenge is often just finishing with your car in one piece.
There are straight up demolition derbies here your only mission is to survive, and there are more traditional races that feature destructive elements like Figure 8s and layouts where you have to circle back and navigate oncoming race traffic to complete each lap.
It goes without saying that you’ll crash often and you'll crash spectacularly as you make your way through Wreckfest’s selection of both online and single player modes. But unlike other racing games where big crashes usually result in frustration and disappointment, here they are a fun and welcome challenge as you gain additional points for wrecking our opponents or seeking revenge on the racer who crashed into you.
In a world where we are spoiled for racing game choices with more titles vowing for our time and money than ever, Wreckfest is a game that should be more than worthy of your consideration. Not only does it stand out from the pack, it’s easily one of the funnest and most unique racing games we’ve played in recent memory.
If Wreckfest doesn't satisfy your itch for automotive destruction simulation, you may want to check out BeamNG.