As someone who would much rather watch the excitement of Thierry Neuville and the rest of the WRC’s talent rip through deadly high-cliff paths and dense forests that occupy some of the world’s finest rallying trails than that of Lewis Hamilton predictably taking pole position in the latest Grand-Prix once more, it has to be said that the yearly release of WRC is usually one that I’m keen for. In recent years each title has only improved upon its predecessor and with Kylotonn set to hand the baton back to Codemasters in just a few short years, there’s no doubt they will be looking to maintain their impressive run of form that has seen the WRC games turn into one of the best racing games available in recent times.
The focus of WRC this year isn’t just on one particular mode, even though you will certainly be spending the majority of your time within the games huge Career offering, but rather the gameplay itself. Unlike most racing games, WRC isn’t a game in which the challenge and emphasis reside on winning, but rather the finish, with finishing any given stage proving not to be as simple as it sounds. Tuning your car is often the make or break of any given stage and can be the difference between finishing in record-breaking fashion or rolling into a ravine with a flat tyre.
Before we get into the core aspects of gameplay though, first you must decide where you’re going to be playing and much like previous entries, WRC 10 is a game with no shortage of content. Solo options available to players include the all-new 50th Anniversary Mode as well as Career, Quick Play, or Season, whilst Multiplayer racing can be conducted through Clubs, Online Multiplayer, Co-Driver or Split Screen Racing. There are also options for Challenges, Test Area and Training within the Skill Development section, but if you want to get straight into the crooks of it, you’re not strapped for choices.
For me, Career would be my stomping ground of choice and with options allowing you to partake in a full career of realistic length from the lower echelons of the sport all the way to the pinnacle of the WRC, this is certainly a sensible choice for getting the true feel for the game.
Unlike Quick Play in which players can choose their car, driver, track and be away with it, Career takes a real focus on each different aspect of rallying, from teams to staff, sponsorships to research and development and there is very little you won’t be involved in both in and between events. Not all will be with your chosen team both thanks to the inclusion of Anniversary Events which task you with beating a time set in an iconic vehicle over a historical course, as well as Manufacturer Events in which different vehicles are loaned to you to put through their paces.
Whilst the Career mode mostly harbours incremental changes over last years entry however, it’s the racing that feels most changed. Whilst each of the last three entries at least have felt very different in the ways cars handle, this year’s title is probably the one that has required the most concentration and learning. You may not be quite getting the sim rally experience you would expect to find in DiRT Rally for example, but WRC 10 does bring the appropriate changes to handling with even subtle movements often being the make or break when you’re crunching pedal to the metal down a country lane.
Mastering corners is a key factor in winning or losing this year also with players needing to master the balance between drifting and full-on stopping the car before accelerating away should you wish to shave off enough seconds to start truly competing, whilst even the straighter sections of a stage aren’t a guarantee for safety at full speed.
A big reason for this is due to how different each car feels. Between each class from WRC, all the way down to Junior WRC, there as a huge difference in the reactions and feel to how each car drives, whilst the Bonus vehicles and the Historic ‘Legends’ on offer show there to be very few cars that feel or drive the same. This means getting used to how each car feels is pivotal to a successful rally, and bigger risks are needed to really push through the positions.
Another impressive factor this year is the vast quantity of stages and rallies available, with Spain joining Estonia and Croatia as the new entries, with more expected to come at a later date. Other returning rallies remain as impressive as ever and with 12 available in the base game and an additional rally available already as DLC it’s not hard to find somewhere new and exciting to race.
As mentioned earlier, WRC 10 does also include the 50th Anniversary Mode which takes players through iconic stages over the past 50 years within Group 4, through Group B and A and all the way to current World Rally Cars. These can be enjoyed separately within this mode or as one-off calendar days throughout the Career mode.
Another big feature this year is the damage system, with tyre condition playing a more active role and players needing to spend more time deciding which tyres they are going to need for a stage and how and when to change them. Do you let them go down to near tyre-bursting levels to keep new tyres for later in a rally or do you change them the moment they start to lose grip in order to push every second of the race timer. Visual damage also takes an improvement too with cars really looking like they’ve been given a wallop when you go over a jump and land awkwardly or clip a tree too.
A feature I never knew I wanted was also included this year with Livery Editor allowing players to take any car from the game and create a look that they are happy with before sporting it against the masses. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before in other racing titles but it’s an interesting feature to have and it is easy to create pretty much anything you can imagine if you’re willing to put the time in.
Finally, we have the audio and whilst I usually expect this to be an area that is pretty much perfect in a racing game, due to the cars being the focus, however, it is worth mentioning that the audio is vastly improved this year with car sounds particularly holding a much more raw and realistic sound than previous years. No matter if you’re throwing the car through the gravel at a hairpin bend or slamming the needle at the start of an event you really hear the pops, bangs, and growls as the power of each vehicle sings out.
One major niggle with WRC 10 however – or maybe more the developers on this one – is the fact that despite utilising the new 50th Anniversary as a feature, cars such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V 1998 or the Subaru Impreza WRC 1997 that have such an iconic status within the world of rally have been stuck behind additional DLC meaning those with just the base game will already need to shell out some extra cash just to get their hands on them, along with the German Arena Panzerplatte SSS. Now I’m fully understanding of the concept behind DLC but if they are ready for launch and you want to make the most of a timed event in the history of rally, surely this is not the time to be monetising the inclusion of the most famed vehicles in the sport.
Overall and if you can look past that glaring miss of possible greed, WRC 10 is a fantastic game. The cars feel the part, handling is much more in-depth this year than in previous entries, and should you have the capacity to race with a wheel then you’ll find the whole experience incredibly engaging. Even with a controller though there is certainly plenty to be excited by and whilst we only have a few years left of Kylotonn holding the WRC license, we are surely seeing the best we’ve ever seen from the franchise yet.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.