Codemasters’ DiRT 4 came out earlier this year while Bigben Interactive’s WRC 7 just recently released for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Now that both games are up and out on their respective platforms, there have been some graphics comparisons between the two games, as well as audio comparisons.
Bigben originally dropped the new launch trailer for WRC 7 today, just to give you an idea of what the game is like, assuming you’re unfamiliar with the franchise.
I was blown away by the graphics and presentation of the game, because I seriously did not expect that level of fidelity and quality from the game in the way that Kylotonn managed to provide.
Nevertheless, just about any rally racing fan was likely curious how well this new racer measured up against Codemasters’ DiRT 4. Thankfully, YouTuber Johnson Racing put together a quick seven minute comparison video showcasing the differences between the stage layouts and playability on the Australian outback featured in both games. Check it out below.
Well, first of all, the stages for Australia are very different. DiRT 4 is set in the more sandy-outstretches of barren dirt and gravel, basked in the unwavering glow of the sun. WRC 7 is set more in the wooded areas under a shadowy canopy of trees.
Graphically there’s a major edge to WRC 7 even with the slight difference in lighting and environment. For one, the LOD is a lot more relaxed in WRC 7. Pop-in and low-quality tree models are rife throughout DiRT 4, so much so that you can easily see where one shadow vector starts and where the other ends, especially on the foliage. It really takes you out of the experience.
As you can see, further back into the map, the LOD just gets worse and worse, and it’s a shame because the foreground and immediate fulcrum view of the track look fantastic. However, the realism fades real quick once you start taking your eyes off the track itself.
Kylotonn did a much better job utilizing natural light shaders so that you don’t see that nasty shadow-map pop-in. They also made prime use of ambient occlusion in order to give the surrounding environment a naturalized state in the final render so it doesn’t put you out of the experience.
Another highlight for WRC 7 is that there’s reduced specular mapping, and very, very subtle uses of soft-shadows within the environment, as well as refrained rendering of hard shadows. If you look at the ground and surrounding trees, you’ll be hard pressed to tell the standard shadow maps for the trees from the ambient occlusion laced throughout the environment. It’s all blended together so that it has a more realistic and natural tone.
Another interesting thing is that Kylotonn avoided the use of over-wrought post-processing effects. The blur is utilized appropriately so that it feels like it compliments the acceleration and speed of the vehicle, without it feeling obtrusive and distracting.
Also take note that they actually avoided the use of god-rays. Now in a lot of games god-rays can help make the environments pop. However, due to the somewhat cloudy overcast, they ensured that there was no overdone light-casting utilized throughout the map, which actually helps a lot in immersing the player into feeling as if they’re right there in the thick of it.
Additionally, you may have noticed that there’s a clear distinction in the way both games sound.
DiRT 4 has passable rally sounds, but WRC 7 manages to capture a lot of nuance in the audio department. Take note that in the clip above at the 3:30 mark when WRC 7 kicks in and starts running the leg, you’ll notice that you can hear not just the engine, but the ambiance of the track interacting with the car.
Notice that during the turns especially you can hear when the gravel and dirt kick-up under the chassis, bouncing off the wheel cradle under the frame. It almost sounds like you’re right there in the cockpit.
DiRT 4, while sounding nice, lacks the small details like that and it really takes you out of the experience.
WRC 7 also has far more weightier physics. The cars feel more attached to the ground and the mass distribution between turns comes across as more physically accurate than the loose and slippery physics featured in DiRT 4. This is not to take away from the qualities of DiRT 4 at all, it’s simply to highlight that Kylotonn has really stepped up their game with this year’s outing.
Now the Steam reviews for WRC 7 are still mixed at the moment coming off the initial launch. There are a lot of little nagging issues that hardcore fans are bringing up that hopefully Kylotonn can fix in the next major patch. With a bit of tweaking and loving care, I think WRC 7 could end up being the rally game of the year.