WRC 10 Review

September 11, 2021
Xbox Series
Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One
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When we reviewed WRC 9 last year it was noted that Codemasters would be taking the reins of the official WRC license in 2023 meaning current custodians, Kylotonn, would have two more games left before leaving the series behind. WRC 10, then, is the first part of Kylotonn’s farewell tour and by all accounts they have taken a similar iterative approach to its development as it did last time out. That’s not a bad thing by any stretch as WRC 9 provides a pretty sturdy foundation. Our only real complaint last time out were wheel issues on launch, pot-luck multiplayer lobbies and a career mode that was a little bit staid. 

If you’re a massive fan of the sport which, if you’re buying the official game might suggest you are, then you’ll be delighted to know the roster of historic cars has been expanded on. Celebrating fifty years of the WRC, which isn’t actually until 2023 as the inaugural season was 1973, the classic roster now includes Subaru and Mitsubishi as well as the drivers and co-drivers who made them famous. In addition there’s now a specific mode allowing you to relive nineteen iconic events from the WRC’s past. Let it be said now, these classic stages aren’t for the faint of heart and are pretty tough to complete. However, they unfortunately don’t cover the original stage layouts opting instead to run the main game’s stages albeit with the crowd greater in number and closer to the track which, at least in our case, lead to far more time penalties and loss of human life than any one person should be responsible for.

Nothing pleases us more than to see Subaru join the fold this year

What’s wonderful this time around is that these iconic cars cover all the main eras and have a relatively representative driver pool as well. Like any motorsport its top level is dominated by men, but if you know your WRC history seeing the name Michèle Mouton on the roster will mean quite a lot. She finished second overall in 1982, the year before Group B arrived, and during her career won four rallies and obtained nine podiums. If that doesn’t say a lot about how awesome she was, in 2012 she was inducted into the rally hall of fame alongside two-time world champion Carlos Sainz. It’s wonderful to see her name among other iconic stars of the WRC’s history and hopefully a few younger rally fans will learn about her achievements as a result of it.

Vehicle-wise, we have everything from the early beginnings in cars such as Alpine A110 Berlinette or the Lancia Fulvia before morphing into the Group B monsters such the Peugeot 205 T16 Evo 1 or Audi Quattro Sport. Then there’s other iconic cars such as the Lancia Delta Integrale and the legendary cars from the nineties in the form of Colin McRae’s Subaru Impreza and Tommi Mäkinen’s Mitsubishi Lancer. If, like this reviewer, you grew up with the WRC of this era, seeing these two cars on the roster, albeit as DLC if you don’t have the deluxe version, is emotional to say the least. Perhaps it’s all related to McRae’s untimely death or the sheer thrill of watching the likes of Sainz, Mäkinen and McRae (and later Richard Burns) battle it out for supremacy left a mark on all those who watched on. We suspect similar feelings are had by those who watched the Group B era explode, quite literally, before morphing into the sport we know today. There are other, later classics such as the Volkswagen Polo R WRC and Loeb’s all conquering Citroen Xsara. So no matter when you came to the WRC as a sport, there’s something for everyone.

Night time rallies are panic inducing, doubly so in the wet

So what of the current WRC and its junior formulas? Well, they’re definitely part of the package but when the big ticket item this year is a livery editor, you already know that the career mode is the same as it ever was. That’s not to say it is awful, it isn’t, but having to be all things to all people in this mode can get a little much at times to the point of being a bit boring. Hopefully, Kylotonn’s swansong next year in the form of WRC 11 might give you the ability to choose your level of involvement. Perhaps from the current micro-managing style where it’s one step short of asking you to pick your mechanics dinner to a more delegatory form whereby some functions can be offloaded to staff you hire. Enough of a distinction from the driving only focus of the single-player seasons mode but flexible enough to let you give up control of the mundane should you wish.

The livery editor is a nice addition and allows the artistic out there to undoubtedly create some amazing personal liveries. Using layers and basic shapes, anyone who’s toyed with livery editors in other motorsport games such as Forza Motorsport will feel right at home here. What would have been nice if, like us, you’re somewhat artistically challenged, is the ability to acquire creations from within the community. This feels like a missed opportunity to us seeing as how such functions have led to a complete sub-community of its own and allows gamers who are looking for something unique for their team a marketplace of sorts to find something they like that isn’t a bog standard livery.

That’ll buff out…. I think

Moving away from the paintbrushes, on track, WRC 10 is as good as it was in WRC 9 and this time our steering wheel worked from the get go. Whilst the force feedback needed tweaking, out of the box it was, for us at least, raceable. These sorts of settings, however, are very personal and so your mileage may vary but if you’re not one to go messing in these sorts of settings rest assured that the defaults are pretty decent. Equally, if you’re looking for a fun way to get a good arm workout, then may we suggest the 20.07km Cabeceiras de Basto stage from Rally Portugal. It’s a tight and twisty gravel stage which, in the top-tier WRC machines, has corners coming at you thick and fast. It’s utterly relentless and with the rutted and loose feeling you get on gravel, it requires a lot of micro corrections on the wheel to get anywhere fast. 

Whether you’re fast or not on a wheel it’s the most enjoyable way to play WRC 10 in our opinion, however, you can play quite happily on a pad as well. You don’t quite have the nuanced control on throttle and turning as you do on a wheel but you can still be fast. Whatever WRC 10 is doing under the hood in its handling model is sympathetic enough that jagged inputs from a thumbstick are translated to more smoother turns in reality. It can take a little getting used to but once you get a handle on the feedback you get through rumbles and audio cues from your tyres, setting fast and competitive leaderboard times aren’t beyond pad players’ grasp.

The WRC Polo is so much fun to drive and rather rapid too!

The overarching question then is whether or not WRC 10 is enough of an improvement to warrant the purchase of a whole new game and the answer is a bit muddy. On the one hand you have a career mode that’s hardly changed, minor tweaks aside, for a couple of games now. Whilst it’s good and probably one of the better career modes in motorsport games its only major addition this time around is the livery editor. However, if you can’t design a livery for toffee then its inclusion is superfluous. So realistically in that sense you’re not really getting that much more than WRC 9.

With that being said, however, the handling in WRC 10 does feel better and on the wheel it’s great fun to drive. The classic cars and the fiftieth anniversary mode offering up some gear-grinding challenges are a wonderful distraction from the main career mode and roster of cars. In the end the answer is much the same for many games of its ilk. Die-hard fans of the sport will undoubtedly pick up WRC 10 without a second thought and it wouldn’t really be a bad decision. It shares much of what made WRC 9 great whilst having a few additional features thrown in for good measure. Though these additional features are perhaps not enough for those out there who already have WRC 9 and don’t need to have the latest version to have a good time.

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Whatever may come in next year’s WRC 11 Kylotonn leaves behind a strong legacy and has created what is probably the most underrated racing series currently in active development. That being said, WRC 10 really is an incremental upgrade and unless you absolutely must have it for one reason or another there’s perhaps not enough here for owners of WRC 9.
Pete Taylor

A long time gamer since the days of the mighty ZX Spectrum +2. The bug really bit when I got a Sega Mega Drive 2 and it hasn’t let up since. Huge racing fan but I also enjoy losing myself in a well-told RPG and management sims. It doesn’t have to be good-looking to win my heart, it’s what’s deep down inside that matters.