WRC 10 Review: A Patient Player's Racer
WRC 10 is a racing game all about endurance instead of the sprint. And for some, that might be a problem. This yearly championship rally game has all the hallmarks of a decent driving title. Plenty of tracks. A multitude of cars. And even varying track conditions.
Yet much like the issue facing the Formula 1 games, WRC 10 is intimidating to any unfamiliar with the world of rally driving.
WRC 10 Review: A Patient Player's Racer
The popularized racers of this generation (PS4/XB1) all focus on making the driver feel cool and fast (and maybe a little furious). Expansive drifts, blisteringly high speeds, gorgeous graphics, and fancy UI to watch your level fly up are staples. WRC 10, on the other hand, is all about functionality. It is a tense, tight-knit racer that you will agonize over left and right, cursing the single bumps that flip your car and trying your best to keep your foot off the pedal.
As someone entirely new to the WRC series, such mechanics were a challenge to overcome. Having played series like Need for Speed Heat and Forza Horizon 4, I naively approached WRC expecting a meshed experience closer to Dirt. Yet, as obvious as it might sound, WRC 10 isn’t concerned with racing casuals like me. WRC 10 is an experience focused on Rally fans.
The game unapologetically thrusts you into its world with difficult tracks, directionally numbered terms, and a very different style of driving. And at the time, none of it made sense to me. After a raucous intro, WRC doesn't let off, as it then hits you with a simulation-like management system, where you’ll maintain everything within your Rally team, even down to invoice emails.
At first glance, I was utterly horrified and often wondered, “When can I actually drive?”.
For fans of management sims and the real-world Rally Championships, this might be the perfect combination. I saw flashes of interest in the number-crunching as you pick one meteorologist over the other, for example, and the game features an expansive skill tree for point collectors.
However, the management side is an element of the game I quickly grew disinterested in. Having to take rest weeks for your crew might be a part of the real-team immersion, but it just feels like a waste of time more often than not.
Luckily, with online, quick play, and even a split-screen mode, you can entirely ignore the game’s management career mode and get right to the racing, even if it does feel alien. Drifting and steering feel unnatural, the tracks decidedly harsh, and the aforementioned terms do nothing but continue to overwhelm.
However, I stuck with this taught racer despite struggling to remove myself from the last position on the leaderboard. Replaying tracks, I came back again and again, and I trimmed second after second away from my finish time. I began to watch videos on what those agitative terms meant, and steadily accustomed myself to how the game wants to be played.
Developers Kylotonn and KT Racing know that WRC 10 isn’t the most approachable, too. With the inclusion of a Training and Test Area mode, players can take their time to get a feel for its controls and mechanics. As you begin to understand the fundamentals of WRC 10, it becomes a far more addictive experience.
Racing across its multitude of tracks, WRC 10 had my eyes glued to the screen. As you might expect with a Rally racer, you don't just drive along; instead, you will need an eye for disruptive bumps, have knowledge of car performance in varying conditions, and fine-tune your sense of when to hit the brakes.
Then, to really put you to the test, you have night races, which place an even larger emphasis on your co-driver's directions. For any that expect the likes of neon lights and lens flaring headlights from the Need for Speed games, that's not what you'll find here.
Night races can be blood-boiling, as visibility takes a more grounded look. For me, the tension of tight tracks during the day really lose appeal at night. With the game's car-flipping and time-ruining bumps, night races reduce visibility to the point that some of the mechanics become an unwieldy burden. And that's before you even throw in snow or rain.
Despite the variety of tracks with different weather conditions, WRC 10 really lacks visually. With some truly abject landscapes, the game regularly has the vibe of an arcade-machine racer. However, considering the concentration required to actually play the thing, a focus on visuals completely fades away, and it’s likely not something fans of the series are all too fussed with.
With those strong reservations in mind, WRC 10 does have its fair share of content. A livery editor lets you customize the designs of your favorite cars, and drivers can play through Seasons for those longer sessions.
With the addition of Clubs, a Co-Driver Mode, and the aforementioned split-screen, there are a ton of multiplayer-based options. This entry in the series even celebrates the 50th anniversary of WRC with vintage vehicles and tracks.
WRC 10 Review — The Bottom Line
- A challenging experience
- Unique feel to driving
- A varied amount of content
- Lacking visuals
- Unkind to newcomers
- Overwhelming management system
- Requires research outside of the game
WRC 10 is a fun and packed experience. If you're a newcomer, you'll need patience. In your early hours, you’ll feel overwhelmed by the game’s lack of aid, and you’ll definitely need to check a YouTube tutorial or two to get going. It’s a more hardcore experience, that's for sure, but even then, its campaign mode pulls you too far away from the central experience.
However, once you begin to familiarize yourself with the racer, it offers up an addictive and brutal experience that’ll have you memorizing corners like never before. And there is something here for even those who often dabble in more casual racing games.
At its core, WRC 10 is to the race track what Football Manager is to the pitch. It's a racer made not just for the Rally Championship, but genre fans seeking a strategic simulation experience.
[Note: Nacon provided the copy of WRC 10 used for this review.]