Wreckfest: The Tony Hawk Pro Skater of Motorsports


Wreckfest is the unusual pairing of destruction derby, local dirt racing, a bit of inspiration from Rallycross as well as a very healthy dose of Tony Hawk Pro Skater for good measure.

What’s Special About Wreckfest?

Wreckfest is a game that knows exactly what it is and what it hopes to achieve. It’s not the type of game that is striving for ultra-realism or simulating any real events from the real world of racing onto a digital platform. Wreckfest is a game that was created for one thing, and that is to have fun. Period.

What helps Wreckfest to achieve this rather simple goal is that first and foremost, the game is very clearly inspired by Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Like Tony Hawk Pro Skater, the controls of Wreckfest are simple arcade controls, the gameplay is fun and engaging, and for each race or event, there are sub-milestones that the game encourages you to achieve. Things such as spinning out three cars before the end of the race or dealing X amount of damage or knocking out Y number of vehicles before the end of the event. Lastly, the music is a mix of high energy alternative rock songs, just like Tony Hawk Pro Skater.

Game Modes, Cars, and Car Mods

Wreckfest has two primary game types, which are destruction derby and lap racing.

In Destruction Derby you pick your car and drive around the map doing as much damage as possible to your opponents. The goal is to end up as the last surviving car, but along the way, you’ll need to take out a few of your opponents before you can claim victory. This is important because the balance in this game mode is such that every time you hit a car, your car takes damage. As the striking car, you take less damage than if you are the recipient, but you still take damage. To win you need to be strategic in when and where you decide to strike because if you get caught in the middle of the pack then the AI is going to pound you into submission. You also need to keep an eye out for damaged cars that are out of play. If you hit one of those, then you will do significant damage to yourself and naturally receive nothing in return.

In lap racing, you tear off down the track, and your goal is to be the first to finish the race. As mentioned above the developers give you smaller bonus tasks to complete while you’re racing. It is conceivable this was done to keep you entertained, but it also gives you something else to focus on beyond just finishing in first. If you choose to attempt these feats then not only do you need to finish first but you also need to do 10,000 points of damage, for example. It helps to put a bit of urgency into the three lap format. It gives you a choice to sacrifice speed for the additional task at hand. However, if you’re a pro, then you’ll be able to manage both without skipping a beat.

As long as we are talking about balance, let’s talk about the cars in the game. Mostly you don’t need to purchase another vehicle because the Mustang that you play with at the start of the game is one of the more evenly balanced cars in the game. It has decent acceleration, good top speed, proper handling and it is adequately armored. However, if you are lusting for another WIP, then you can always purchase a new car so long as your level is high enough to be able to pick it up. With new cars, you’ll see very clearly that there is a choice that must be made between speed and durability. Be sure to choose wisely!

Now, if you are longing for more power or handling, then you can always modify the Mustang with the in-game currency/performance points that you earn by playing the game. Wreckfest has the standard assortment of car mods: engine performance, handling, armor, and aesthetics. Keep in mind that most of the mods have pros and cons. For instance, a mod that is great for top speed might decrease your durability. The one thing you’ll find in Wreckfest is that speed comes at the cost of armor, and heavy armor comes at the expense of speed, so it behooves you to mod and set up your car appropriately for the game mode that you are going to playing.

Tracks, AI, and Gameplay

The key to Wreckfest is that the tracks aren’t too difficult to learn, but more importantly, they are so very forgiving. If you go off-road, it’s not a problem. Frankly, it’s amusing to go off-road because there are a lot of destructible items in this game. Things such as tire barriers will explode when you crash into them, which – to me – only adds to the fun factor of the game. The downside is that there isn’t a lot of track variety in the game, nor is there that one track that always seems to beat you up. The game could use with a few more technical tracks or perhaps they could tone down on the ease of the game to add a tick of challenge to it out of the box.

Wreckfest: The Tony Hawk Pro Skater of Motorsports Wreckfest: The Tony Hawk Pro Skater of Motorsports

This transitions well into a chat about the AI. The AI is…there, and that’s pretty much it. Out of the box, the AI isn’t anything that will bother you nor will it challenge you. If you are going after damage or spin challenges, then there is a good chance that you won’t finish first because the AI is not doing anything else besides trying to win the race. It would be nice to see the AI have similar in-game challenges as the player because I think it would be entertaining to see the AI do battle with each other as if they were trying to achieve a damage milestone.

That being said, this ease of gameplay and the ability to tackle side goals each race is kind of essential in keeping the players engaged over the long haul of the career mode, because – as I previously mentioned – there isn’t a lot to this game. Just like with Tony Hawk Pro Skater, the developers needed to find a way to make to keep players engaged in a game that would otherwise be put down after a few hours of playing.

Game Mods

The weakest point of any arcade style game is replayability. Once you’ve done it all then what’s the point of doing it again? Unlike in racing simulators, there rarely is a reason to go back and play through the entire career mode again – unless you are a completionist. That’s where the developers got smart and opted to allow for the community to mod the game via the Steam Workshop. In the Steam Workshop, you can subscribe to mods such as new cars, new tracks, a new cinematic replay mode, people getting ejected from the vehicles upon impact, and more. Having the ability to easily mod the game adds a ton of replayability to a game with an inherently short life cycle.

Wreckfest: The Tony Hawk Pro Skater of Motorsports Wreckfest: The Tony Hawk Pro Skater of Motorsports

Final Thoughts

While Wreckfest might not be the game with the most depth to it, it indeed is the game that has one of the higher fun factors that I have played in a long time. I love a game that knows exactly what it wants to do and embraces the absurdity of itself. To me, Wreckfest does just that. It doesn’t try to be something that it’s not, and I highly respect that. The clear throwback to Tony Hawk Pro Skater regarding arcade-style gameplay with energetic alternative music and in-game side missions just added the right flare and originality to an otherwise saturated genre.