Fans of Destruction Derby, Flatout, Dirt, and Test Drive, here is your next fix in vehicular destruction! Wreckfest, published by THQ Nordic and developed by Bugbear Entertainment combines racing and demolition derby gameplay into something all motorheads will enjoy.
Start your engines!
Starting with the basics, you have a career, multiplayer, and tournament mode. While going through all customization options, there was an overwhelming amount of customization essential for any vehicle game, racing, derby, or otherwise.
Tournament mode is a mash of modes where there are daily challenges to achieve top leaderboard spots and unlockable items. Career mode will get you through the typical set of tracks and arenas with the difficulty and lengths varying as you get further into each championship.
Strangely, there’s no proper tutorial mode. Your first event is a demolition derby on lawnmowers and from there, you’re left to figure things out for yourself. Not that there is much to figure out, but with so much going on your first time around, a little guidance could have helped. Fortunately, once that is over, you’re off to the…. Well, races.
As mentioned before, there’s a lot of customization. Though, much of it needs to be unlocked as you progress through your challenges, career mode, and multiplayer. You can earn money and experience points to buy what you deem fit and unlock other things on the way.
There is a lot to work towards. Players can buy and unlock paints/skins, buy new cars, and parts, and even tune them to tweak stats to your desired play style. For example, I can adjust the suspension, and gear ratio, and break the balance for tighter turns or higher speeds. You’ll see plenty of classic and new cars alike like the Gremlin, El matador, Tristar, and even CRX.
Come for the destruction, stay for the fun
The derby modes are the bread and butter of Wreckfest. There’s a lot of action going on with crazy and fun tracks you won’t see in regular racing games. Tracks like figure 8’s, crossroads, and more. Whether you’re racing or destroying, players can adjust the damage visuals. If you lean more towards showing more car damage, it will affect your driving performance such as missing rims and flat tires. Those will cause you to make less sharp turns or maneuver better.
Not all modes are created equal though. The racing tracks are fun, but nothing stands out from other racing games except for one thing. Aside from the damage visuals that can affect your race, players and opponents have health bars that can be reduced to destroy and slow down cars. I found this weirdly out of place and pointless since I never really had a reason to whittle away health to gain the advantage. I assume if I played more challenging difficulties, I would have found more use for it. Like the Burnout series, your offensive and risk-taking play style will earn you more points and help you level up for more unlockables.
The biggest standout to me is the soundtrack! Awesome rock and metal music will play during the loading and menu screens. I found myself putting my Switch on dock mode to blast my TV and let the menu sit idle for a bit while I did my errands at home. Bands like Cyan Kicks, Blind Channel, One Desire, and Black Dali are just a small tidbit of a great soundtrack. I put this on par with games such as Grand Theft Auto and the Tony Hawk series when it comes to good music.
Does the Switch play fair?
Graphically, the Nintendo Switch tries its best to keep up with the speed and chaos going on the screen with a few hiccups. Wreckfest is noticeably lower res and choppy from its much heftier console counterparts. Rarely did the framerate drop, but it did so occasionally during tense situations.
I had a lot of fun with Wreckfest. Many would have the argument to just get a console version that can handle the graphics and action, but the game still holds well on the Switch. There is a lot to do and achieve, lots to unlock, and a ton of silliness to it for that extra charm. How many racing games do you know that can have you pitting against school buses, lawnmowers, and even motor couches?
If that’s still not enough, there’s a good amount of DLC to be purchased to add more vehicles, parts, and skins to create the best vehicle your imagination can make. With so much to do portably, Wreckfest is a great catch on the Switch. It hits all the essential notes: good gameplay, good music, lots of unlockables, and lots of action. If you love racing and demolition derby games, this one is it.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Wreckfest for the Nintendo Switch provided by Bugbear Entertainment and THQ Nordic.