The last time we checked out a WRC series game, it was back in 2019 when WRC 9 came out. At the time, this was one of the most realistic rally racing simulator games on the market. We generally enjoyed it, but it was a very difficult game to get into if you don’t put in the effort to get better at it. It’s basically a hardcore rally racing simulator that doesn’t care if you don’t know how to drive. It’ll punish you every step of the way. Well, it’s a new year which means a new version of the game has come out in the form of WRC 9 – The Official Game. Continuing with the tradition, NACON and KT Racing have developed THE rally racing game to beat in WRC 9. WRC 9 includes many improvements in vehicle behavior, driving realism, and new game modes – including Clubs, a free-roaming zone to test cars’ settings, and an enriched Career Mode – allowing players to truly put themselves in the shoes of a rally driver.
Rally Racing is unlike circuit racing. It’s much harder. Despite the fact that you aren’t really competing against other drivers head to head, you are competing against their times and the environment. The person who puts in the best time on a course wins. You might think that sounds easy, but it’s not. This is because you have to contend with track conditions which can be quite brutal at times and deadly. Unlike circuit racing, there are barely any guard rails which means any number of things can work against you. You got boulders you can crash into, treacherous mountain roads you can drive off of, and even trees can be your undoing. You have to drive nearly perfectly to make a great time and that’s very difficult unless you put in the time to practice.
I say this because WRC 9 is not an easy game at all. Driving takes a tremendous amount of skill and patience. It’s especially difficult here because you don’t drive these cars like you do in a circuit race. You can’t just go pedal to the metal with a heavy “foot”. The key is to feather your accelerator while also paying very close attention to your braking. This will be key to control. Not only that, learn how to turn as these cars can be very sensitive to each little flick of your stick.
Every car you drive seems to be a bit different too. Some are a bit heavier to handle while others seem way too responsive. It’s something I guess real-life drivers need to deal with and because this is a sim, you’ll also need to deal with it and take the time to set up your cars to the way you like them. All of this can be very daunting but that’s why these are called simulators.
Another realistic aspect of rally racing is listening to what your co-driver says. This is very important because there’s no way to really memorize every turn and nuance of a track here. By listening to your co-driver’s directions, you’re able to know what is coming up ahead and prepare for it accordingly. You do have to learn the lingo, however, but it’s not too difficult to pick up what it all means.
I do suggest getting a good controller to play WRC 9 with. The Switch’s Joy-cons aren’t that great for racing games. The sticks are too short and make turning a real twitchy affair. Steering is very sensitive and you’ll find yourself overcorrecting much of the time which will cause you to veer off the road or into a boulder or tree. You can remedy this a little with some joystick extenders and adjusting the sensitivity in the game.
The lack of analog triggers also makes all driving games a lot less accurate when it comes to acceleration and braking. There’s no real way for you to control the amount of throttle you give or the amount of braking. You’ll suffer through this issue even if you use any official Switch controllers because none of those have analog triggers either. Instead, you’ll have to adjust the sensitivity of braking and accelerating in the software to mimic analog triggers. That’s no fault of the game and more a fault with the Switch itself.
I do highly suggest turning down the difficulty level when you start, just to get used to everything first. As you get better and more confident, then start turning it up.
WRC 9 isn’t all about driving though. The game is also a management sim in which you must manage your race team. That means hiring and replacing team personnel, research and development, making your sponsors happy by completing objectives, and managing the team calendar. The R&D section does feel like an RPG though where you level up and gain experience and money. Leveling up allows you to put your points into areas you want to improve while the money is used to repair your vehicles and pay crew members. Everything you do here can affect your team.
Aside from the career mode, there are other gameplay options available to you. You can take part in a Season, which doesn’t require crew management. There’s Quick Play if you just want to dice into a race. There’s Training if you want to hone your skills, and then there’s Challenge mode where you accept challenges in vehicles selected for you.
Overall, WRC 9 The Official Game is a very deep and rewarding rally racing simulator if you take the time to learn the ins and outs and take the time to really learn the mechanics. While the graphics aren’t PS4 quality, they’re still pretty good for Nintendo Switch. This is one of the best rally racing games out right now on any platform and it’s no different on Switch. If you’re a rally racing fan, you’ll want to pick this up.
WRC 9 is available now in both physical edition and on the eShop digitally.
Received game from developer and/or publisher for coverage purposes.
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