The first round of the WRC Esports Championship is in the books. Mirroring the real life discipline, the first event on the calendar was a trip to the Monte Carlo rally. A nightmare of snow and ice, it certainly tests drivers and players alike straight from the off.
I’d just like to precede the following breakdown of the event with a dire truth. I absolutely hate the Monte Carlo rally. It doesn’t matter what game it appears in, Carlo always breaks my spirit. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s break down the inaugural round of the WRC Esports Championship and how I basically secured that prized Hyundai i20.
For each round in the WRC Esports Championship, I will be putting in a single attempt after practice in the game’s other modes. This means that a collision or crash is not a reason to reset and my initial placement is final.
Monte Carlo Stage 1: Luceram – Col St Roch Special Stage
The Esports gods at Kylotonn made the good decision for the opening round by throwing a Special Stage at players before the gigantic Epic Stage. Luceram acts as the perfect warm up round thanks to its many winding roads and dreaded hairpin segments. Even the greatest intentions can hide hellish circumstances though, as I found out.
Pumped up and ready to go, the Yaris flew out of the gates incredibly quick. So quick actually, that I almost immediately had an accident. The combination of the nimble Toyota and an icy road pushed me into a boulder off the track. Thankfully, a last minute adjustment avoided total disaster.
With a vast majority of the stage putting you on a cliff face, the claustrophobic feel of the sprint is evident right from the start. There’s some really great segments in this track that are ruined slightly by the conditions. Ice and snow driving is fun but the understeer experienced during the run was tiring to say the least. I’m not a tuning guy when it comes to racing games, so it was Gazoo stock as far as that was concerned.
That being said, after a dodgy first sector I settled nicely and continued on with decent pace hindered by a slight weariness. Section five contains the dreaded downhill hairpin section that will give just about anyone a headache. Thanks to an over-reliance on the handbrake though, I managed to survive.
With the first stage taken care of, it was a trip to the service area before the main event: the terrifying Epic Stage.
Monte Carlo Stage 2: Aspres Les Corps – Chaillol Epic Stage
13 minutes of hell. That’s how I would describe Monte Carlo’s Epic Stage. A tour-de-force of everything that mocks me in terms of rallying skill. Ice, understeer, walls built to trap your car. I was rightfully terrified of what Aspres Les Corps had in store. To make another video game comparison, this is very much the Dark Souls of rally stages.
Surprisingly though, I felt like I drove a very nice first couple of sectors. My fears had been mostly calmed; aside from a few bumps and scrapes, there was nothing stage-ending. Thus, I became more confident, drifting through corners and letting my foot hit the accelerator just a bit more. Then, things took a turn for the worst.
After showboating a bit too much with the car’s back end, I didn’t have enough time to make a simple adjustment and smacked a rock, launching my car into the air. The sheer impact of the collision sent my car flipping not once, but twice, before humbly rolling back onto its four wheels. Thankfully, a forgiving damage model meant the Yaris simply brushed itself off and sped away again. Time was lost but my entire stage was not.
The issue was that such an accident only three minutes in seeped away my confidence in an instant. Where I was flying before, I was now waiting and almost glued to the handbrake. Lady Luck wouldn’t be on my side again, should I make such a mistake. Problems started to arise as the tires started to wear; roughly three minutes after my rolling stunt, a collision with a wall impacted the car quite a bit. Damage was mounting up and with still half the track to go, full concentration was required to get to the end.
By far the strangest thing to happen during this stage was that I actually started to feel myself enjoy it. For some reason, the thrill of trying to keep the wavering car on the tarmac made me forget about how much I don’t enjoy Monte Carlo. I was almost disappointed to see the finish line. Almost.
With both stages completed, my first experience of WRC Esports comes to an end. A finishing time of 16:30.171 means that I placed 366th on the PlayStation 4 platform. Perhaps I might not win that Hyundai i20 after all.
My WRC Esports Championship So Far
- Round 1 – Monte Carlo: 16:30.171 (366th on PS4)