In 2013, the French gaming house Kylotonn acquired the license for the World Rally Championship and in 2015 they released their first game based on it: WRC 5, which was crammed with issues. Despite that, it was good, in part really, really good. There was a lot of potential in it and for everyone who drove with a controller, the tire physics matched the feeling of speed very well. Six years have passed since then and now it is time for WRC 10, which according to the studio itself, is one of the biggest improvements they paid for the license. I've spent a little over a week with it, and can not really agree. Or... I do not agree at all.
This game series in some aspects at least, reached its climax with WRC 7, for its own part, although the following two games were better in a number of points, they never managed to create an overall portrait of the sport as such that appealed to me as much as WRC 7 did. This had a lot to do with Kylotonn taking in Simbin's GTR2 producer Diego Sartori who together with the rest of the team built a rally game where the balance between torque and top speed as well as the interaction between tire and surface, matched each other very well.
Sure. WRC 7 was not very realistic, but it was good. It was great, in some areas. In my opinion, it contained a near-perfect mix between arcade rally and simulator racing, and the clean, stripped-down but softly coloured and calmly shaded graphics suited the rest of the content very well. It was also the game that contained the best sound of all Kyloton's motorsport titles.
Then they changed the graphics engine, tweaked the physics system and bit - which also, in WRC 8 and 9, had a lot of advantages. But the Petter who was once optimistic and saw the level of ambition and above all the potential in Kyloton's attempts to constantly improve themselves and his license product, is today almost only sceptical and bored. For WRC 10 is a step backwards, if you ask me - or a detour, if you will. Wrong focus on the wrong things and a reluctance as a developer to choose between arcade rally or simulator racing has made the mix offered here feel weirdly schizophrenic.
The first thing to say about the driving feel of the WRC 10 is that it has been optimised 100% for controllers, which feels like a massive disappointment now that fans have been nagging about better implementing steering wheel support with better force feedback for five years now. Kylotonn has included Fanatec as "official steering wheel partner" for the second year in a row but despite this and despite that WRC 10 recognises our Fanatec DD2 directly, the force feedback support is poor, at best. And now my patience is running out. Despite hours of calibration and various adjustment, it never feels like the steering wheel is part of the car, never like the steering column controls the front wheels and the shocks and resistance that the steering wheel offers in WRC 10, I can't say it feels neither realistic nor particularly entertaining. It's sluggish, slow, weak, lacks timing, speed, feel and power.
So! Switching to Xbox Series X Controller which I of course synced to our Omen by HP 30L it is noticeable that the developers put pretty much all the gunpowder on this control method, and here WRC 10 works better. Much better. But is that really how it should be? Even though I (just like you) naturally understand that significantly more potential players drive with a controller than with an dedicated steering wheel and pedals. With a controller in my hands, the car responds better and it is possible to increase the pace consistently and easier to step into the corners early and carry more speed on the exit. However, the controls still lacks sensitivity in terms of how and where the centre of gravity in the car is, more often it feels like jerking around with a steel sled and the chassis dynamics from especially Dirt Rally 2.0 shines with its absence here. The feeling of speed is lacking, moreover.
Another aspect that I feel I have no more patience for, and do not intend to sugarcoat any more in any hope that it will improve for next year, is the official, proper, real stages in WRC 10. Kylotonn has had over six years to recreate more official, real WRC-stages than the power stage elements that have been included since WRC 6, but here almost nothing has happened and it annoys me. Sure, there are a lot of really good stages in WRC 10 and just like in last year's game, I love Portugal and Kenya, but given the time and budget they had to move with in recent years I would have liked to see significantly more real stages, taken from this year's WRC-season.
It must be said, however, that there are some such obscenely long "epic stages" of over 30 miles that are deadly challenging and thus morbidly fun in themselves, but with a mediocre driving feel, it does not matter very much. The sound is even worse, unfortunately. The sound in WRC 10 is worse than in all of Kyloton's previous rally games, which I have a hard time understanding. That hard, loud, intensely mechanical, metallic and roaring engine sound from above all WRC 7 in combination with the constant clatter of coarse gravel against the cars' undercarriage, is in this game replaced with what sounds like a vacuum cleaner. Incomprehensible.
However, is the car garage and career mode together with the variety of rallies, countries and stages that are included is pretty impressive. In terms of content, Kylotonn is brilliant and the advent of the 50th anniversary game mode (WRC celebrates 50 years this year) is something I am more than happy to applaud. Just like Codemasters brilliant second Dirt Rally-game (Colin McRae History), it's possible to drive through historic rallies and moments, which serves as pure rally school memorabilia-stuff, while swaying around insanely powerful Group B monsters on the most treacherous of forest roads.
There are lots and lots of cars here in several different classes and there is fantastic variation in terms of countries and rallies when you are thrown between the asphalt in Spain to the red sand in Africa, and on to a snow-covered Värmland in Sweden. There are flashes of greatness in that limited sense, in WRC 10. Absolutely. And I really wish I had kept my patience and felt a continued optimism for what Kylotonn was trying to achieve, here. But it's not possible, not anymore. I just can't. WRC 10 is more well-filled than previous games in the series and there are plenty of superb stages when it comes to overall layout, but the driving feeling is worse than ever here, more arcadey and together with lousy steering wheel support, bad force feedback and graphics that feel dull and rigid - it's hard to recommend this game over previous instalments.