There’s something incredibly special about the World Rally Championship. For as many real-life racing leagues or driving games that exist, the WRC is certainly one of the most interesting, unique ways to get behind the wheel. I love the idea that whether it’s on a true track or just along a path in a jungle, it fulfills that dream of long, dangerous drives where you need to have mastered the craft to finish, much less succeed. Developer Kylotonn has done the tough deed of bringing the real-life WRC to your living room with steady upgrades over the past few installments since taking over the WRC franchise, and while WRC 10 isn’t as comprehensively new as it is an incremental upgrade over last year’s game, it still offers the most fine-tuned package the series has seen and rivals some of the best licensed racing games on the market.
“While WRC 10 isn’t as comprehensively new as it is an incremental upgrade over last year’s game, it still offers the most fine-tuned package the series has seen and rivals some of the best licensed racing games on the market.”
The core of WRC lies in the gameplay, where tuning your car to match the track, terrain, and conditions ahead of you can not only make or break your ability to beat a record or win a race, but your ability to finish the track at all. Every turn is a dangerous balance between drifting, stopping, or accelerating, and even straightaways aren’t always perfectly safe. Becoming familiar with the ways cars handle is vital to your success, and WRC 10’s upgrades on the handling front are mostly smaller changes, making the cars feel that much more varied and forcing you to make more precise decisions regarding turning, accelerating, and what risks you’re willing to take. The decisions translate to the car setup as well, which requires you to actively consider what you’ll be facing during your race, especially as you decide which tires to fit for your car. If you’re on a normal gravel course on a sunny day, hard gravel tires will do the trick, but try to bring those tires on a night with a blizzard and you’ll hit every wall the course has to offer or go flying off a mountainside.
Damage has gotten a slight precision upgrade, too, though it’s hard to tell such a difference when the damage goes to such a small level. There are multiple areas of your car that you can damage that go deeper than the normal car quadrants. If you crash head-first into barriers too often, then you might lose your headlights or, in a worst case scenario, destroy your engine, but if you drive too much on the edge of a mountain, you might lose one side of your tires and struggle with turning. The precision with both damage and driving does sometimes undermine itself, as it doesn’t always make total sense which part of your car was damaged or why you didn’t make a certain turn, but I’ll forgive it for the moments where you spin a perfect drift and catch a turn without a hitch.
What really makes the WRC series as a whole, and WRC 10 is no exception, is the amount of content it has to offer. While with other racing games there’s a tendency to want to run the same courses over and over, there are so many different tracks here that it’s forgivable if you completely forget how a certain track is laid out by the time you come back to it. Among the new tracks this year are Croatia, Estonia, and Spain, each of which just adds to the amount of variety and enjoyability that the game offers. The tracks are all gorgeous, too, whether it’s raining, bright and sunny, or dimly lit. Of course, the tracks aren’t static either, and they change dramatically when certain weather and day-night effects come into play, each of which is much more impressive on the next-gen consoles than in past games. There really isn’t a way to run out of content in WRC 10 at all, since you’ll always be working to perfect a course with any number of combinations of tires, weather, or light.
“What really makes the WRC series as a whole, and WRC 10 is no exception, is the amount of content it has to offer.”
Career Mode is the key way the WRC series has structured its gameplay over the past few years, and this year’s career is mostly similar to last year’s with a few upgrades. The basic structure of the Career is that you are a rally driver that manages every aspect of your team, from the off-track team management and R&D to the on-track racing and repairs. Every month, there are four time slots that are used for a single activity, from a rally to team building or even resting. There are some nuances to these aspects, such as the fatigue of certain team members that requires you to rest, but I wouldn’t say it’s as detailed off the track as something like F1’s MyTeam mode. On the track, though, races are even more complicated than normal, since you have to manage repair time for each part of your car between races. You don’t have the time or money to repair everything at once, so you sometimes have to make tough decisions to, say, leave your headlights at risk in favor of fixing your engine. All in all, the Career Mode is easily the best and most comprehensive way to play, giving you the best opportunity to see everything the game has to offer in one place.
The biggest new addition to this year’s entry is the Anniversary Mode, which you can experience either in the standalone mode or as single events in the Career. These races cover some of the most famous events and vehicles from the history of the sport to celebrate its 50th anniversary, including the Acropolis in Greece, the first WRC race. These races are special in their own right, since the game does a good job of making them feel like they’re historical events. They only unlock sequentially when you beat certain times, though, and the times are both very long and frustratingly strict. I had multiple races that had limits pushing 7 minutes that I missed by less than 10 seconds, and doing the entire race again is a little more stressful than it’s worth. That said, these races are enjoyable for what they are, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to prioritize this mode long-term over a Career.
On the technical front, the game benefits strongly from next-generation consoles both in presentation and performance. Klyotonn clearly put a lot of effort into sound upgrades, as the sound is much more dynamic and precise than ever before. Cars look beautiful as well, especially when you see them up close in the livery, though the character models from the crowds leave a bit more to be desired. Load times are impressive, too, as long races load in just a matter of seconds and cause almost no framerate drops or visual glitches.
“On the technical front, the game benefits strongly from next-generation consoles both in presentation and performance.”
As compared to past versions of the WRC franchise, WRC 10 doesn’t add an incredible amount. Its Anniversary Mode is a great new place to see the history of the sport, and some of the tweaks are welcomed, but I don’t see it as a huge upgrade over last year. As it compares to other racing games, though, anyone looking for that feeling of rallying, especially requiring pinpoint precision and dynamic car changes, has another fantastic experience built for them, and anyone who hasn’t experienced the series before can jump into the best game in the series so far and find the best long-distance rally package on the market.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox Series X.