With countless car games out there, it can be challenging for the racing genre to surprise players or offer new experiences. Luckily, that is not a problem with WRC 10 — the official companion game to the World Rally Championship. The latest entry in the WRC series comes from developer Kylotonn, which took over the series with 2015's WRC 5. We're pleased to inform you that the developer's years of experience with the franchise have given it a keen eye for what the series needs to succeed, because WRC 10 is an exciting and enjoyable thrill ride.
If done right, games based on real-life events and sports can allow consumers to feel like they're living what they're playing. Kylotonn seems to have kept that in mind while developing WRC 10, because the game feels authentic to its smallest of details. Being a long-running, yearly-released franchise, the game shares a lot of similarities with its predecessors. However, the way in which it executes its mechanics, environments (both old and new) and gameplay makes it a promising ride (no pun intended) for new players and franchise veterans alike.
Behind the Wheel
The first thing that catches your eye when booting up the game is the customization section, which allows you to choose the amount of damage your car can take, how anticipated or sudden your co-driver's directions will be, and how your vehicle will feel when driving. This mechanic is useful for different types of players, regardless of their skill level. It gives WRC-franchise newcomers the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the game's style and maps, and it allows seasoned players to customize their gameplay in a way that continually varies their experience.
As for the driving itself, there aren't enough good things we can say about it. Racing in the real-life WRC requires skill, acute awareness and impressive reaction times and, in keeping with being as realistic as possible, WRC 10 does not take it easy on you. Getting through many of the maps in this game with the aim to win is a challenge — yet, never a frustrating one. The driving is so well-balanced that when you go off-course or get stuck behind a pile of rocks, it's usually your fault, and not the game's.
This challenge level encourages you to become better and strive to improve your skills with each passing race. It also adds another layer of fun to co-op play, as it makes testing your skills against your competition a truly exciting endeavor.
By nature, racing games have limited gameplay options, and as such, can become stagnant if not handled properly. Aside from its engaging career mode (which we discuss below), WRC 10 avoids this by offering a vast array of maps to drive in, even adding four new locations: Estonia, Croatia, Spain and Belgium. What's particularly impressive about the game's maps is that each one feels unique.
Some are relatively new-driver-friendly, allowing you to drive as fast as possible with few sharp turns; others, however, will test the skills of even the most seasoned racing aficionados. To top that off, the game also allows players to revisit tracks from WRC's history, which makes the gameplay feel even more varied, even if the mechanics and overall concept remain the same. Speaking of which...
Of course, we couldn't talk about WRC 10 without mentioning the big new feature it brings to its franchise: Anniversary mode. A celebration of the WRC's 50th anniversary, this mode takes players back in time to experience the Championship's most memorable tracks.
This isn't just a repaint of the main-game tracks. Anniversary mode fully immerses you into the WRC's past through its exquisite map designs, spectators in era-accurate clothing and, of course, great variety of vintage cars. While the WRC franchise has given players the ability to drive vintage cars before, being able to use them in the context of Anniversary mode makes their inclusion more fun.
Now, WRC 10 is not just about driving fast cars, crossing your fingers and praying to be able to make the tight turns necessary to win a race. Nope. Just like its predecessors, the game puts you in control of your racer's career, your team and of your car's components. We won't sugarcoat it: Managing these three things can get overwhelming, and they will, at times, test your thinking skills more than the tracks will ever challenge your driving skills.
However, once you get the hang of it, you feel encouraged to keep going because you know pulling off this balancing act will ultimately lead to your success as a racer. The fun factor of taking responsibility of your gear is amped up by the inclusion of a livery editor, which gives you the opportunity to customize your car. As you progress through the game and build up a reputation as a solid driver, being in charge of your vehicle's design makes you feel like you're actually establishing your identity in the Championship.
Despite all of the good attached to it, there are also a few things that WRC 10 could have done better. The first is your co-driver. Having an A.I. companion guiding you through the race is a welcome touch, but sadly, the co-drivers' voices are so monotonous and almost lifeless that they end up feeling like recordings, as opposed to active participants in the race.
When it comes to graphics, the game is impressive. However, something holds it back from being a true standout: the spectators. You will encounter many of them throughout the game, but their designs leave a lot to be desired. Even at high speeds, it's clear the audience is made up of almost-lifeless models with minimal distinctive features. This may feel like an insignificant detail to some, but with WRC 10 replicating the experience of feeling like a driver to such an impressive degree, it's disappointing to see stiff audience members apparently cheering you on during races.
Finally, there are the drivers' hands. Driving in first-person is meant to elevate a player's experience; to connect them with their car and the road. Unfortunately, while the driving mechanics deliver on that front, something that may break the immersion for some is the driver's hands. Much like the aforementioned spectators, the hand animations are stiff, and the hands themselves feel like they were taken from a PlayStation 3 game.
Similar to our previous complaint, this may seem like a nitpick, but as previously mentioned, WRC 10 offer us the opportunity to step into the shoes of racers. To achieve such immersion, every little detail counts, and seeing your driver's cartoony hands while steering is distracting, and often stops you from fully feeling like you're part of the WRC world.
Still, even with the aforementioned shortcomings, WRC 10 is an impressive entry in its series. It honors what its predecessors offered while pushing the WRC franchise to new heights. The game is a challenging yet easy-to-pick-up experience that will entertain curious new gamers and seasoned racing veterans alike.