boxart
Game Info:

WRC 10 FIA World Rally Championship
Developed By: KT Racing
Published By: Nacon
Release Date: September 2, 2021
Available On: Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Genre: Racing
Number of Players: 1-2 local split screen; online leaderboards
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
MSRP: $49.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Nacon for sending us this game to review!

I have had the pleasure of reviewing several rally racing games over the years, and while I've never been particularly good at them, WRC 10 is the game where it finally 'clicked'. I really, really enjoy this game - and that's before getting into the crazy amount of content on offer thanks to the meaty Career mode, the fascinating (and difficult!) Anniversary mode, and various online games modes available. As someone who plays games like this for a while and typically moves on, I feel this game drawing me back in - it's that good.

I said in my WRC 9 review that it borrows a ton from WRC 8 - and I think it's fair to say that this game also borrows a lot from those as well, as that's the price of yearly game updates. However, despite that, this one is quite a departure in other ways, and they really worked hard on this 50th anniversary entry - and it shows.

For those who haven't played a Rally racing game before, WRC 10 World Rally Championship is a beautifully rendered 3D racing game where you can drive over one hundred and twenty different courses, racing against the clock, as you try to maneuver through tarmac, gravel, mud, and snow, through all kinds of weather and terrain challenges. It is also the official game of the real-life WRC league, and the levels are faithful recreations of real locations and tracks, and I believe the racers you compete against are real, also. During a race, you have a co-driver who gives you a heads up as to what is coming up next, as without his help, you could find yourself off of a cliff in a hurry, at speeds ranging from one to one hundred+ miles-per-hour. One thing I noticed is that your co-driver can occasionally react to mistakes or successes, like yelling 'Yes!' if you are doing really well, or 'Woah!' if you make a mistake. It's a subtle gesture that makes it feel more real - and also made me laugh.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent graphics; really good engine sound effects; refined physics simulation that keeps getting better; nearly perfect force 
Weak Points: Certain features locked behind success in Anniversary mode that is quite difficult
Moral Warnings: Certain features locked behind success in Anniversary mode that is quite difficult

Thankfully, the physics and handling feel truly excellent, and seem realistic to this untrained player. I have driven plenty over the years, but I don't have the opportunity to drive in places, or in vehicles, that this game simulates. That said, this is finally a Rally game where it feels realistic enough, while also not forcing me to crash every few seconds just for the sake of being 'hard'. I played this on PC with my Logitech G27 racing wheel, and it just 'clicked' in the best way. While sure, I set the difficulty to the lowest, in some previous games that wasn't enough. I've finally been able to see the winner's podium for some levels, which is more than I can say on most Rally games I've played.

Like previous WRC games, this one attempts to offer you most of the races that the official WRC teams complete on in real life. The locations on offer here are based on their real-life counterparts, and this new Anniversary mode is quite remarkable - but you'd better be really good. Though I have started to get better in career mode races, I am nowhere close to being good enough to match or exceed world-record settings times with no advantages. That's what Anniversary mode expects of you, and it's no cakewalk.

You see, in these Anniversary races, you replay the same course and in the same vehicle that the original racers did in their time. The earliest courses start in 1973, and continue through to nearly the present day. While it might seem like it should be easy to beat the winner of the very first WRC, the fact that you are limited like they were, and use their vehicle, shows just how good they truly were. I replayed that particular level quite a few times, and determined that I just wasn't going to get good enough to unlock these levels in a timely fashion. It's a real shame, since entire modes for advanced players are locked behind this feature. On the plus side, you still get to play Anniversary Races in career mode, so you still get to experience what those older racers went through, even if victory and its spoils may seem out of reach.

Thankfully, career mode is quite well fleshed out, and very enjoyable. It hasn't substantially changed since WRC 8 or 9, but the Anniversary Races are a nice new addition that adds a certain something to the otherwise similar game mode, and it's well appreciated - even if I had to give up and hope of actually winning the races, despite my successes on other courses. I spent the vast majority of my time in this game in career mode, and I feel it's a great way to enjoy WRC 10.

Starting as a new driver, you work with your corporate sponsor (it usually starts as Ford), trying to win race after race. At the end of each season, you have the opportunity to choose a new contract; if you have taken enough opportunities to drive manufacturer tryouts, you may be offered a chance to switch to a new car brand, or to a new league.

Like many games with a career mode, you get to manage your budget, repairs, and your crew. Money is easy to come by, as long as you are willing to replay levels as often as you need to in order to win each race. Outside of just repairs, crew also help you be more efficient. Better Mechanics allow you to repair more in between races on a multi-day rally than a poor mechanic would be able to. Their salary costs a bit more, but it's more than worth it in earning potential. Speaking of which, Financial Directors help you be more efficient with your money, by earning more and spending less. Engineers help you gain more experience, which helps you level up your team's skills. Physical Therapists help keep your crew energy levels high; if they get exhausted, you have to hire another to take their place. Agents help you get rare and valuable races, and Meteorologists help you determine the weather, which is far more useful then you might think, since you need to pick a set of tires for an entire day of races, and making the wrong choice can kill traction. There are other team member roles as well, and there aren't enough slots on your team (at least by default) to have one of everything, so making those tradeoffs is all part of the fun. You can also gain levels. Each level you gain grants you a skill point to allocate, and by doing so, you can improve one of four areas: Team, Crew, Performance, and Reliability.

WRC 10 FIA World Rally Championship
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 94%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 100%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

You also get to reply to emails (yes, more work!) and even pay the bills. If that wasn't enough, you get to set your own calendar, to an extent - certain days are big rallies, that you can't skip. But in between them you can rest (for the crew to recover), perform maintenance, train, do an anniversary race, practice in extreme conditions, manufacturer tryouts, or perhaps some other event that is escaping me. These all give you plenty to do and keep the game from getting too boring or repetitive, though at the end of the day most events are more racing, in one form or another.

You can also customize your ride to an extent. While you can't change the looks (at least to the point I got to), you can adjust the suspension, differential, brakes, transmission, and aerodynamics. You can save profiles to help optimize for each road type, and choose them when you race. This, in addition to tires, should be enough for most needs.

Other modes you can choose to play include a simplified Season mode, where all of the crew management is removed; you just go from one rally to the next, eventually getting promoted based on your performance. There is the perennial Quick Play, which simply lets you choose your track, category, and vehicle. From there, you can have a race without consequences - just have fun. There is also a Test Area where you can drive and car on a test track in any car with any weather you choose. There is also a Training mode which helps you get better at certain driving skills.

Multiplayer modes are mostly about beating another's time on the track. There is local split-screen, which is really great, and works well. The Clubs mode returns, where you can create a set of rally races for you and your friends to play through, and compete for the best results. I was surprised how active these modes are; there are literally hundreds of existing clubs, and hundreds of people in others’ clubs. What a great way to extend gameplay and interest in this game!

Other online modes include leaderboards, which are simply the best track times that anyone has. The other modes are specific challenges (like can you make a jump on this track bigger than our professional?) or play a specific, pre-planned event, and compete against the world to see who is best. The co-driver mode returns, where one player acts as the co-driver in co-op style play. It's really neat!

Thankfully, the game runs wonderfully, even on lower-end hardware. There was a time when an NVIDIA driver broke for the game, but that is not the fault of the developer. If you do run into an issue with this game on NVIDIA GPUs, be sure to first try the latest driver, or NVIDIA's specific hot fix driver for this and a few other games. The graphics are good, though I do think an engine update would be great soon, since this game looks fundamentally similar to the last couple of WRC games. That's not really a bad thing though, as I find them all to be really nice overall. It also scales down quite well, so even my GPD Win Max can play it fairly well with integrated Intel graphics at a 1280x800 resolution. It even runs remarkably well on Linux via Steam Proton, though the racing wheel doesn't work quite in the same way. The default G27 control profile had to be tweaked, and the force feedback didn't feel the same as on Windows, but it's still quite enjoyable this way.

WRC 10 World Rally Championship takes the already impressive foundation laid by WRC 8 and WRC 9 and improves upon it to make one of the best racing games I have ever played. WRC 10 is basically my go-to rally racer if I am in the mood, and the insane amount of content - from courses to cars to Anniversary Races is just incredible. The space used on disk is proof of that - WRC 10 is about 15GB larger than WRC 9! Weighing in at 37GB, you might want to clear some disk space, but you're rewarded with one of the best Rally racing games in recent memory. If you are looking for an incredibly deep and interesting and realistic racing game to take you all over the world, then WRC 10 gets my highest recommendation.


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