The gameplay of WRC 10 has made the transition to the Nintendo Switch surprisingly well, but this port is riddled with other issues.
Title: WRC 10 The Official Game aka WRC 10 FIA World Rally Championship
Release Date: March 29, 2022 (Switch Version)
Suggested Audience Age: Rated E for Everyone
Time to Play: 10 Hours, according to How Long To Beat
Availability: Switch, Steam, Xbox, PlayStation
Recommended for fans of: Simulated Racing, Team Management, and Repeating Textures
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
I like racing games, but I almost always lean towards more arcadey games than anything even close to simulation style. I’ll take a Forza Motorsport over a Gran Turismo any day of the week. On Switch, I’ve had a blast with Mario Kart 8, Hot Wheels Unleashed, and Burnout Paradise.
When I started hearing folks talking about Gran Turismo 7, it got me itching to try out something with a little more grit. Luckily for me something new dropped in my lap at just the right time. The much-delayed Switch port of WRC 10 FIA World Rally Championship finally launched on the Switch! For some reason it's called WRC 10 The Official Game on the Switch, but who cares? Rally racing!
An extra six months of development time over its releases on other platforms has resulted in a surprisingly solid gameplay experience. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like any other aspect of the WRC 10 package was adapted for the Switch at all.
Before we get deep into where the Switch version does and doesn’t succeed, let’s talk about what WRC 10 is in general. The main mode in this game drops you in as a driver and manager of a team in the World Rally Championship.
Rather than racing against other cars head-to-head, rally racing has each car run a course individually. In video game terms, this means you are running a progressive series of time trials, rather than trading paint with other racers.
The basic driving in this game feels great. From what I understand, WRC 10 uses a custom physics engine to help every bump in the road feel impactful. That’s key for this sort of racing because there are lots and lots of bumps. Rally races are run on treacherous, rough, narrow, and winding roads. It’s a crazy hazardous sport that is kind of terrifying to watch.
To help traverse the roads, drivers in rallies are always accompanied by a copilot who calls out upcoming obstacles for them. Playing WRC 10 for just a few races will help you learn the shorthand for this really well, and you’ll quickly know exactly what to expect when your partner warns you about a “Right 5 into Left 3.”
Team Building Exercises
Outside of the races, WRC 10 has you managing your racing team in quite a few different ways. This is a robust campaign, where you hire employees to give your racing team advantages. You’re probably thinking of mechanics, which is fair. In rally racing, though, you also have to hire less obvious employees, like a meteorologist who can help you prepare for hazardous weather.
The management side of this game is deep. Really deep. Like, “you have to make sure your team members have compatible behavior profiles” deep. There’s also a pretty substantial skill tree that you can invest in to improve your team members' performances. There is a lot here, but honestly, I didn’t get too deep into it because of the one big place where the Switch version of WRC 10 completely fails.
WRC 10 The Offical Game on the Nintendo Switch Looks Bad
This game looks awful. It is shocking how bad WRC 10 looks on Nintendo’s platform. The environments you cruise through during races are sparse and bland and have laughably low-resolution textures. If the edge of the road is dirt fading into grass, you will see the exact same “dirt fading into grass” texture map repeat about every 1.5 seconds for the entire race.
Thankfully, the frame rate holds up pretty well. Once I got past how fuzzy everything around my car was, I had a blast figuring out how to navigate around the courses. Driving in this sort of sim requires a different sort of focus than the arcadey games I’m used to, and figuring out how to handle a course felt super rewarding.
I was a bit worried that the digital triggers on the Switch would hinder me because you can’t lightly press the gas like you could with an analog setup. I got a chance to spend a few minutes with the Xbox version of the game, though, and I ended up tapping the gas the same way there as I did on the Switch.
The Real Issues with WRC 10 The Official Game
I'm guessing that the downgraded graphics were a necessity in order for the physics engine to run properly on the Switch. That trade-off does make a lot of sense because the smooth gameplay is much more important. Unfortunately, even with the scaled-down graphics, this version suffers from extreme load-time issues. I sometimes waited for up to a minute to get into a race, which is a painfully long time to stare at the screen.
However, it's not the poor textures or the long load times that completely break the experience of playing this game on the Switch. Instead, it’s the text outside of the races that’s an issue. I’m both docked and handheld modes the text in the various menus of the career mode was way too small and too fuzzy to make out. On the skill tree screen, I even zoomed in using the Switch’s built-in accessibility features and still couldn’t read it, because the text was rendered at only a few pixels wide.
I’m extremely conflicted about WRC 10 on the Nintendo Switch. On one hand, this game offers a super precise and technical simulation racing experience that I don’t feel like you can find in many other places on the handheld. On the other, everything outside of the core gameplay loop is unpleasant, and the size of the text is borderline unforgiveable.
I really wish that this game sported the same sort of cross-progression we are seeing with MLB The Show 22. Being able to run races on the Switch and then manage your team from a PC or 4K console would be nice.
But still, I really, really like the gameplay. I just wish I could read what was happening in the dang menus.