The rally landscape was once wholly ruled by Codemasters, their video game kingdom stretching from the original Colin McRae through to the modern classic Dirt Rally 2.0. For years there was barely an usurper worth getting out of bed for, but KT Racing’s years long efforts eventually produced WRC 9 and changed the conversation. Now, KT have returned once more with WRC 10 in tow, looking to cement themselves as the new ruler of sim rally racing.
While older WRC titles strove for accuracy, but often lost a battle with physics and handling. WRC 10 suffers neither of those foibles. Cars feel solid but lively, driving on the edge offers the same risk and reward as you’d find in the real world, and when you do make contact with track geometry the resulting damage and effect on your car feel realistic.
Career mode will be where most people spend the majority of their time, and you can pick your entry point depending on how confident you are. You might opt to hop into a Ford Fiesta Rally4 and join the Junior WRC to get used to the speeds and handling. Beginners will benefit from the unlimited tryouts on offer, and it’s a great starting point for anyone that’s new to the series and sport. For those eager to skip past the simpler stuff, you can make the jump to WRC3, though you’ll have to impress the recruiters for each team in order to find a ride. You also only have three chances here, so you’ll want to make sure you’re ready for it.
This mode remains a full and involving experience both on and off the track. There’s crew management to consider, with a variety of team members who’ll offer various boosts to your car’s repair speed, increase your financial earnings or improve morale. You need to make sure they don’t become burnt out too, ensuring rest days to keep those boosts coming. If not they’ll actually become a hindrance.
Just like a real-life career in motorsport, performance is key. If you don’t hit your objectives, or perform well on the track, you’ll lose your reputation with your manufacturer and ultimately be dropped from the team. It may be time to reduce the difficulty if this happens to you, but you’re given every opportunity to stay on top. It’s worth noting that the ‘normal’ setting is immediately tough, so newcomers may actually want to try out the beginner setting as a starting point.
R&D takes you to the skill tree. As you gain experience you can level your team up, boosting morale, unlocking new crew members, and improving performance. Every time you level up you gain one skill point, so it’s worth thinking carefully about where you need to spend them, particularly early on. Everything in WRC 10’s career mode feels fully formed, and you’ll soon be thoroughly submerged in it all.
Content-wise there’s more or less everything you could want here, especially as the game is meant to celebrate next year’s 50th anniversary of the World Rally Championship – yes, it’s a bit early, but this is the game that’s going to be on sale when the real championship starts. You’re getting the four new 2021 rallies in the shape of Belgium, Spain, Croatia and Estonia, with six historic rally events on top including the return of the iconic Acropolis Rally of Greece. The presentation of these tracks looks spot on, and while WRC has never had the cinematic sheen of other types of racing game, it’s attractive and functional. Most of the time you’re concentrating far too hard on the track and your co-driver to really take much of it in anyway.
All new this year is the livery editor. You can now finally create your own team colours and car designs, while those amongst us who like to painstakingly create liveries of the past will find plenty to keep them occupied. You can lay down a multitude of different stickers and geometric shapes and overlay them to achieve the results you’re after. It certainly owes a debt to the Forza series, albeit with fewer options available to you, but it’s a much needed addition to the formula.
WRC 10 looks pretty darn good on PS5, though it’s not without a few blemishes. It’s a bit confusing, and disappointing, to see assets popping in during the opening panning shots, particularly when it’s the first thing you’re going to see when you start up the game, but in action there’s none of the tell-tale pop-in to distract you. There is also some mild screen tearing that distracts from the experience, reminding me more of WRC’s heritage than anything else. This isn’t something that I recall experiencing in WRC 9, so it’s a returning issue and one that KT can hopefully patch out in the near future.
One area where WRC 9 excelled last year came after its upgrade to the new generation of console and the addition of DualSense haptics, triggers and other features on PlayStation 5. Those effects return with some subtle refinements to an already understated implementation, with the most noticeable difference, to my ear, being that the sound of gravel and things pinging of your car has been increased through your DualSense’s speaker.
If you’re looking to test your skills against other players WRC 10 has a wealth of options. You can create your own championships in the Clubs section, take part in those made by others, or hop into a more straightforward spot of online multiplayer. If you’re lucky enough to have friends or family that fancy themselves as rally racers you can even play in split-screen. It’s always lovely to see that particular option included, even if it might be a bit niche.