After a 15-year hiatus, V-Rally is back, and we’re here to make sure you succeed on the rough terrain.
Starting in 1997 and published by numerous companies across the world, Infogrames’ V-Rally series was always a popular one, offering a different take on racing to the Gran Turismos or Destruction Derbys of the world, thanks to the titular rallying that was unique and tough. Make no mistake, driving a car across dirt tracks as the wheels strain for traction is a difficult thing, and V-Rally strived for realism and difficulty, while somehow maintaining an almost arcadey feel, as well.
Fast forward to right now, and Kylotonn are back with a new take on the series after a 15-year break. There’s also a new publisher, BigBen on board – the people who put out the WRC, TT Isle of Man, and FlatOut racing games. V-Rally 4 is just as tricky to master as you’d expect, so we’re here to help ensure you don’t spin out at the first corner and end up in the water upside down.
1. The handbrake is your best friend
If you want to seriously challenge the leaderboards and dominate the higher difficulties or online modes, you’re going to need your trusty pal the handbrake. While other games can require clever use of the handbrake at high skill levels to take certain corners, V-Rally 4 almost demands it from the very beginning. If you are planning on slowing for every corner, braking and easing round the bend then you’ll end up stuck in the doldrums of the mid-table finishes: this isn’t that kind of sim-racer. Right from the start make sure you understand what the handbrake is doing on any particular terrain and use it to help you corner efficiently and quickly. You will need to slide round the dirt at the highest speed manageable to get the best times. On top of all that, getting good with the E-Brake is certainly going to make it easier to master the gymkhana events, too, so save the donuts for that discipline.
2. Your co-driver isn’t just there for their good looks
This may sound like a no-brainer, but ignore your co-driver at your peril. Rally driving isn’t like regular track racing, because although you have a map on your HUD that allows you to see the track, it’s a standard top-down one, where you need a 3D one. In fact, for newcomers that’s the best way to think of your friendly disembodied voice: a 3D sat-nav. Your right-hand man will tell you when a bend is coming or how difficult it might be. These pacenotes are the key to winning because on a new course, or even just if you’re distracted by the pretty visuals, the co-driver will give you information you can’t know: Are there obstacles? Has there been an accident? Pay attention to what they say, and never allow yourself to become complacent and start ignoring them, because your co-driver is a critical part of an event like a hill climb.
3. Practice on lower difficulties and get used to the handling
One thing V-Rally 4 has that makes it more difficult than all previous entries in the series is a few issues with its handling model. Whether it’s because the terrain mapping under your wheels has become so much more realistic or not, we don’t know, but what we can tell you is that your car can spin out at a moment’s notice. It’s essential that you get used to the handling model so you can react accordingly the second you feel control slipping from your hands.
4. Don’t forget the joker lap, and decide when is best for you
In rallycross you’ll spend less time driving on the dirt, and get to enjoy some high speed fun on the tarmac. But rallycross has a thing called a joker lap which you absolutely must do once per race. Put simply, the joker lap is a slightly different variant on the regular track, usually making for a shorter or longer lap that you must take once, offering a tactical element not found in other racing classes. You might personally find that it’s best to get it out of the way early on, and if that works for you: great. However, it might be that you find that if it’s a shorter variant, you save it for the final lap to squeeze a few places higher up the leaderboards. Whatever you do, don’t forget or… well, the joke will be on you. Sorry (not sorry).
5. Every car will feel different, and that’s ok
There are plenty of cars to choose from in V-Rally 4, and it’s going to take time to get used to the different classes as well as the different types of race you’ll be taking part in. Don’t get stressed about how much money things cost early on, because the early game is all about getting you used to things and teaching you the ropes. Soon enough you’ll be hiring people to work for you, repairing your damaged vehicles, and generally planning out which cars will help you get to the top. Spend time exploring the racing disciplines as much as you can, and don’t fall into the trap of just doing your favourite. Experiment, practice, and improve.
6. Above all, don’t get frustrated: be prepared to fail while learning the tracks
Rally games really aren’t like other racing experiences – we can’t stress that enough. You’ll be taking part in races that are long and winding, with tight tracks where a single mistake puts you into a pool of water. It’s easy to get cross and want to quit, but persevere and learn the tracks, and combine this knowledge with all of the above tips to become the ultimate V-Rally 4 driver. It’s okay to fail, but it’s how you pick yourself up, dust off, and go again that makes you the champion.