WRC 10 Game Director Alain Jarniou on how the series has evolved

Thomas Harrison-Lord
WRC 10 Game Director Alain Jarniou

When WRC 10 launches on 2nd September 2021, it will be the sixth official game of the FIA World Rally Championship created by Kylotonn and also its penultimate title before the licence moves elsewhere.

That hasn’t stopped the Parisien studio innovating, as Game Director, Alain Jarniou, explains.

“Kylotonn, in association with Nacon, has been working on the franchise since WRC 5. Every new version comes with new features and improvements, especially on the simulation side.

“With all the experience, the feedback from our community and the passion we put in our games, I think we managed to reach a great level of quality in terms of the simulation, and of the overall WRC experience and entertainment.”

Katsuta, Toyota, WRC 10 gameplay, Croatia

My impression of the series so far is that WRC 9 was a breakthrough rally sim, finally receiving the car handling that the series deserved. Sure, it had a profusion of features including the stages, cars and teams from the real-life 2020 WRC season, a lengthy career, an online co-driver option and an accessible esports platform – but it was the sensations elicited when using a wheel that turned the game series into a more focussed simulator.

But, in video game development, you can never stop tinkering, tweaking and receiving community requests. Despite making large strides with its last game, Kylotonn is pressing on with further enhancements.

“Simulation is a (truly) complex subject. It’s a set of many small systems that work together and influence each other. Mechanical parts, [such as] turbos and brakes, and physical elements like, obviously, tyres, not just on different ground surfaces, but also air. Those are systems we really improved, and in some cases reworked from scratch, for WRC 10.

WRC 10 gameplay, Hyundai, Tanak, Estonia, 2021

“Aerodynamics, for instance, have a lot of influence on the cars’ behaviour. It was very important for us to enhance their simulation. A realistic ground effect is one example of the additions this time around. Collisions, suspension, electronics and tyre models also saw lots of enhancements.”

Based upon our hands-on preview earlier this year, the dynamics appeared to be a step forward once again and I found it easier to control with a gamepad than before without taking away any of the feedback – but how these changes work when the final game is complete, we’ll hopefully find out soon.

One new feature that was detailed this week was the livery editor, something that many fans had been requesting.

“The Livery Editor is one important addition to the game as players of the WRC series have been expecting it for a while. We designed it to offer them maximum freedom.

“Players will be able to customise historical cars as well as Junior WRC, WRC3, WRC2 and even WRC cars of the current season, which is a great and unique feature.

“The colour and the material of the car can be changed. The player will be able to create a whole livery, using predefined stickers (including official brands logos) or stickers they create from scratch.”

This will now enable you to create your own team within the single-player career mode, adding a dose of fantasy to the occasion, and there’s going to be a significant Historic Mode that charts 50 years of the WRC through the use of classic cars, stages and scenarios.

But, after two years of a Covid-19 affected WRC calendar, the biggest hurdle must surely have been to recreate stages for rallies that were new to the championship. After all, unlike circuit racing, some of the in-game stages are well over 20kms in length.

“First of all, we’re lucky we have a fantastic, experienced, development team! To guarantee we wouldn’t lose any time since we had such a short period of time, we made sure to get accurate information from the promoters,” explained the feted game developer, who has previously worked on the V-Rally and Test Drive Unlimited games.

“Also, the game is not limited to those new countries on the 2021 calendar, as it includes all the other events of the 2021 season and also iconic locations of WRC history like Sanremo (Italy) and Acropolis (Greece). It’s a total of 19 different environments available in WRC 10.

“While we don’t plan to add the Arctic Rally Finland to WRC 10, but we’ll add Belgium and Greece with two free updates in the weeks following the release.”

WRC 10 Alpine Greece

The Greek stages will be included from launch as part of the Historic Mode, but the post-release update will also make them available as part of the WRC 2021 content, while the title will ship with new Spanish, Estonian and Croatian stages too.

On paper at least, WRC 10 should be the most feature-rich officially endorsed rally game so far, with an inimitable range of features and a realistic driving experience. That release date can’t come soon enough…

Five quick questions for WRC 10 Game Director Alain Jarniou

What’s it like working on the WRC franchise?

Rally is a unique racing genre. It’s one of, if not the, most demanding competitions as it occurs on tarmac, gravel and snow, either in warm or very cold conditions, when it’s raining (or not), in the day or at night. It’s a wonderful challenge to be able to deliver an authentic driving experience in all those extreme conditions.

And the WRC is the most prestigious competition in Rally. It’s great for us to be the ones to work on the franchise and also a big responsibility.

[Thankfully] Kylotonn and Nacon really built great relationships with WRC Promoter and all the car manufacturers in the competition.

Will online clubs be a feature in WRC 10 like they did in WRC 9?

Yes, online clubs will definitely be a feature in WRC 10, with a total rework of the interface. We also added new leaderboards and a “realistic” mode for increased challenge and setup possibilities.

You seem to have adapted to the current-gen consoles very quickly. How have you found creating games for them?

This was a true challenge! We managed to create a first successful implementation on WRC 9, which had some very good feedback from players and the press. Therefore, we wanted WRC 10 to go further to better translate the behaviours of the car. We had lots of ideas for [the PS5’s] DualSense controller, so we had to make some choices to keep it balanced and not pollute feedback.

What’s your favourite classic rally car coming to WRC 10?

Many people would say the Subaru Impreza, which will be in WRC 10 this year. It’s one of the most iconic cars of the WRC over the past 50 years. But my personal preference goes to the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16. Maybe this is because it used to be one of my personal cars (not the WRC version, alas!), or because it’s a French car, or the unforgettable moments spent with it during the sound recordings.

What’s your all-time most-revered rally car and special stage?

I love the Alpine A110, the Audi Quattro, the Subaru Impreza WRC, the Peugeot 205 and all the modern cars are breathtaking. Driving in Estonia, Croatia, Greece, new this year, or the iconic Monte Carlo, Kenya, Japan is really pleasurable. But, for personal reasons, my preference is to drive the Citroën Xsara in Sanremo.

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