WRC 10 isn’t a bad game. Available now for previous and current consoles as well as PC, it’s an enjoyable rally title that looks good, feels good, and it’s decidedly immersive thanks to a career mode that covers driving as well as building and managing an entire racing team. You’ll notice we didn’t say great, because WRC 10 commits the fatal flaw that often befalls a sequel. It doesn’t move the franchise forward.
We have a bit of experience in this area, as we reviewed WRC 9 in September 2020. It was easily the best WRC-branded game of them all, so admittedly, WRC 10 has a high bar to meet. As before, we sampled the newest iteration on the Xbox One X playing through a 4k HDR television, racing with a modified Logitech G920 force-feedback wheel.
It didn’t take long to learn WRC 10 is a match for WRC 9 where it counts, offering a smile-inducing driving experience that isn’t quite as hardcore as DiRT Rally 2.0. It looks as good as the old game too, and these are all good things because WRC 9 was a major step forward for the franchise. But the million-dollar question is this: If WRC 10 merely equals WRC 9, why buy the new one?
More Cars, More Tracks
Nacon and KT Racing studio would point to WRC 10’s extra content, focusing on the history of the World Rally Championship. Aside from running through 19 classic rallies in History Mode, you can jump right into a plethora of historic stages, with Acropolis and San Remo being arguably the best of the bunch. The stages are period-correct as well, with billboards showing era-appropriate ads should you have a fleeting moment to take your eyes off the road. Spectators also get very close to the road for some classic stages, harking back to the daredevils of the Group B era.
You’ll also find more historical cars to enjoy, including entries from Subaru and Mitsubishi. These brands were conspicuously absent in WRC 9, but here’s where we have a serious bone to pick with WRC 10.
Colin McRae’s 1997 WRX is available, but only for those who preordered the game and that ship has now sailed. Whether it shows up later is unknown, but alas, you can at least enjoy the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V, right? Sure, if you buy the more expensive deluxe version of WRC 10, which also adds an extra rally stage and a starter pack to help your career mode early on. With Subaru and Mitsubishi dominating the rally scene for over a decade, bragging about the manufacturers being in WRC 10 then not having either in the standard game feels like a major bait and switch.
As for other historics, we’re grateful for the Toyota Celica but you still won’t find properly classic Fords like the Sierra Cosworth, Escort, or the RS200. And there were certainly more Subarus and Mitsubishis in the WRC than just the single iterations of the WRX and Evo. We can only assume there’s some sort of licensing issue at play, though that doesn’t explain why the available Subie and Mitsi aren’t included in the standard game.
Same Old Gameplay, Same Old Problems
This could be easier to stomach if WRC 10 made improvements over physics, pace notes, wheel feedback, and car tuning. Cars still feel a bit too twitchy, though we’ll give KT Racing credit for creating very distinct characteristics for front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive models. You’ll need to practice with each platform before racing, and you’ll need to recce the stages too. The pace notes are okay, but hardcore racers will find them lacking in detail. They’re also just wrong sometimes, especially with corner speeds and cuts. It’s hard to drive flat-out when you can’t trust your co-driver.
As for wheel feedback, the game heavily promotes Fanatec, which is a superior wheel to Logitech. However, that’s not an excuse for mediocre feedback on any supported wheel, and WRC 10 could do better. Finding a balance between steering response and slip is virtually impossible, and even on the strongest settings the wheel always feels light. We managed to eke out an acceptable middle ground, but snapping from massive understeer to snap oversteer without warning still happens.
Adjusting settings on the car can help with that, but the advanced interface shows random numbers without context for what they mean. As such, tuning the car becomes a very frustrating, time-consuming endeavor of pure trial and error. I’ll firm up the front springs to 25000, and shock compression to 3000.
What does that mean? KT Racing, just list the stats in actual units such as kilograms, inches, degrees, and so on like so many other racing titles. This comes across as an arcade-flavored throwback to older, less accomplished WRC titles, and it clashes with the authenticity the current title is trying to establish.
Sadly, all the above criticisms were present in WRC 9 on Xbox, and from our perspective, they went untouched for WRC 10. Framerate issues also cropped up from time to time during gameplay, which we checked against WRC 9 to ensure it wasn’t an Xbox problem.
With WRC 9 humming, we actually spent an afternoon having fun with the old title instead of the new one. That’s pretty telling right there.
So Close, Yet So Far
All that said, WRC 10 is a good game at the core. It’s not perfect, but rally fans seeking an immersive WRC experience will appreciate all it has to offer. However, the format is the same as WRC 9 so it doesn’t feel like a new game. It drives the same. It looks the same. It even has the same foibles. Adding 2021 stages and historic content in a WRC 9 DLC pack would’ve been just fine, but alas, that’s not where the money lies. We also suspect tugging at heartstrings with Subaru and Mitsubishi content then not offering either in the base game will upset many fans.
If you already have WRC 9, it’s hard to justify paying extra for more of the same in WRC 10. If you’re looking to step into a WRC game, scoring the older title at a lower price would likely suit many gamers just fine. Or, if having legit WRC ties isn’t as important as enjoying a rally experience with better physics, pace notes, and historic vehicles, DiRT Rally 2.0 is still the superior title. At least in the Xbox world.
WRC 10 is available now for PC and all major game consoles including Xbox One and Series X/S, Playstation 4/5, and Nintendo Switch.