Never get your hopes up

WRC 10 is not a bad game. Available now for past and current consoles as well as PC, it’s a fun rally title that looks good, feels good, and extremely immersive thanks to a career mode that includes both driving and building and managing an entire racing team is. You’ll notice we didn’t say it greatbecause WRC 10 makes the fatal mistake that often continues. It doesn’t advance the franchise.

We have a bit of experience in this area as we tested WRC 9 in September 2020. It was by far the best WRC branded game of all, so WRC 10 admittedly has a high bar to meet. As before, we played the latest iteration on the Xbox One X through a 4k HDR TV and rode a modified Logitech G920 force feedback wheel.

WRC 10 gameplay Xbox One X

It didn’t take long to learn that WRC 10 is up to WRC 9 where it counts, offering a driving experience that inspires a smile that isn’t quite as harsh as DiRT Rally 2.0. It looks as good as the old game too, and those are all good things because WRC 9 was a big step forward for the franchise. But the multi-million dollar question is, if WRC 10 only equals WRC 9, why buy the new one?

More cars, more tracks

WRC 10 gameplay Xbox One X
WRC 10 gameplay Xbox One X

Nacon and KT Racing Studio point out the additional content of WRC 10 that focuses on the history of the World Rally Championship. Aside from going through 19 classic rallies in History mode, you can jump straight into a multitude of historical stages, with Acropolis and San Remo arguably being the best. Stages are also period-based, with billboards displaying timely advertising in case you have a fleeting moment to take your eyes off the road. Viewers get too very close to the road for some classic stages reminiscent of the Group B era daredevils.

You’ll also find more historic cars to enjoy, including entries from Subaru and Mitsubishi. Those brands were noticeably absent from WRC 9, but here we have a serious choice in WRC 10.

Colin McRae’s 1997 WRX is available but only to those who pre-ordered the game and that ship has now sailed. Whether it shows up later is unknown, but unfortunately 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 starter pack to give your career mode an early boost. With Subaru and Mitsubishi dominating the rally scene for over a decade, it feels like the manufacturers are in WRC 10 and then have none in the standard game Head Decoy tactics.

WRC 10 gameplay screenshot
WRC 10 gameplay Xbox One X

As for other historic vehicles, we’re grateful to the Toyota Celica, but you still won’t find proper classic Fords like the Sierra Cosworth, Escort or the RS200. And there were certainly more Subarus and Mitsubishi in the WRC than just the individual iterations of the WRX and Evo. We can only guess that there is a licensing problem, but that doesn’t explain why the available Subie and Mitsi are not included in the standard game.

Same old gameplay, same old problems

This could be easier to cope with if WRC 10 made improvements to physics, pace notes, wheel feedback, and auto-tuning. Cars still feel a little too choppy, although we give KT Racing the credit for creating very different traits for front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive models. You need to practice with each platform before racing, and you need to repeat the stages as well. The pace notes are okay, but hardcore racers will find they lack detail. You are also only not correct sometimes, especially at cornering speeds and cuts. It’s hard to go full throttle when you can’t trust your co-driver.

As for steering wheel feedback, the game heavily touts Fanatec, which is superior to Logitech. However, this is no excuse for mediocre feedback too any assisted wheel, and WRC 10 could be better. Finding a balance between steering and slip is virtually impossible, and the bike always feels light even in the most powerful settings. We managed to strike an acceptable middle ground, but it still happens that going from massive understeer to fast oversteer is snapped without warning.

Adjusting the settings on the car can help with this, but the advanced user interface displays random numbers with no context for their meaning. Tuning the car becomes a very frustrating, time-consuming attempt at trial and error. I’m going to set the front springs to 25000 and the shock compression to 3000.

WRC 10 gameplay Xbox One X

What does that mean? KT Racing, just list the stats in actual units like kilograms, inches, degrees, etc, like with so many other racing titles. This acts like a throwback with arcade flavor to older, less savvy WRC titles, clashing with the authenticity that the current title is trying to establish.

Unfortunately, all of the above criticisms were present in WRC 9 on Xbox, and from our point of view they went away untouched for WRC 10. Frame rate issues also appeared from time to time during the game, which we checked with WRC 9 to make sure it wasn’t an Xbox issue.

While WRC 9 was humming, we actually spent an afternoon having fun with the old title instead of the new one. That’s pretty telling.

So close yet so far

All in all, WRC 10 is a good game at its core. It’s not perfect, but rally fans looking for a full WRC experience will appreciate everything it has to offer. However, the format is the same as WRC 9 so it doesn’t feel like a new game. It’s about to go. It looks the same. It even has the same weaknesses. Adding 2021 stages and historical content in a WRC 9 DLC package would have been fine, but sadly, that’s not where the money lies. We also suspect that it will annoy many fans to tug at their hearts with Subaru and Mitsubishi content that is then not offered in the base game.

WRC 10 gameplay Xbox One X
WRC 10 gameplay screenshot
WRC 10 gameplay screenshot

If you already have WRC 9, it’s hard to justify paying extra for more of that in WRC 10. If you’re looking to get into a WRC game, many players would probably do well to get the older title at a lower price. Or if having real WRC ties isn’t as important as enjoying a rally experience with better physics, pacenotes, 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.

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