WRC Generations Review - Screenshot 1 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

It’s only taken 11 games to figure it out, but publisher Nacon has finally realised that numbering its WRC games has perhaps started to get a little ridiculous. As such, this sequel to WRC 10 has ditched the numbering system, and goes by the more approachable title of WRC Generations. It’s an interesting time to finally make the change, however, because this is the last game in the WRC series as it stands before EA and Codemasters take over the wheel from KT Racing.

The WRC games have something of a reputation on Switch for not quite delivering optimal performance, and for the most part that’s the case here too. Generations looks ever so slightly better than WRC 10, but that doesn’t mean we’re now looking at Forza or anything like that.

Texture quality is still very low, scenery still pops in from only a matter of feet away, and some stages continue to have that extremely distracting effect where shadows appear on the ground just ahead of you and draw themselves out as you drive, almost as if you’re chasing some sort of ghostly snake down the road.

WRC Generations Review - Screenshot 2 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

In terms of how it controls, the handling is extremely sensitive, and still requires quite a bit of tinkering before you can find something that best suits your racing style. And, as before, acceleration and braking take a hit because their default controls are mapped to the 'ZR' and 'ZL' buttons, which aren’t analogue. This would be one thing in a typical racing game but for a rally game you really do need more nuance in your pedal control rather than a flat on-off for the brakes and throttle.

The main way to remedy this is by instead assigning the accelerator and brake to the right stick – move it up to go, down to stop – which thankfully can be done in the options. However, you then have to find somewhere to assign the camera, which is usually what the right stick does. Annoyingly, the game doesn’t just let you decide you don’t want camera controls (why would we want to look to the side to see more ugly scenery?) so we ended up jamming it onto the ZL button just to keep it out of the way. It’s a solution, but hardly an elegant one, and a preset right-stick acceleration control scheme would have been welcome.

The main addition to gameplay this time is the inclusion of hybrid cars, as featured in the latest real-life WRC season. The idea is that these cars give you an extra boost of power when accelerating, then charge the battery while you brake. We’d be lying if we said we noticed an enormous difference between driving a hybrid and a non-hybrid, so it feels more like this is just a gimmick than a genuinely game-altering experience.

WRC Generations Review - Screenshot 3 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

The only other selling point is alluded to in the title. As well as the tracks featured in the latest WRC season, Generations includes a selection of tracks from previous WRC games, bringing the total number of courses to 165 across 21 locations. It’s a nice variety and should ensure that those who can put up with the drab visuals and awkward controls will have plenty to race through.

While it may appear, then, that WRC Generations is basically an enhanced update of WRC 10, it’s not quite as straightforward as this. Indeed, one of our favourite modes in WRC 10, the 50th Anniversary mode, has been completely removed this time, meaning anyone else who loved it in the previous game will have to make do without it this time.

The 50th Anniversary mode allowed you to recreate classic rallies from WRC history, which added some decent variety to the game. This time, the historical races have been shoehorned into the otherwise near-identical Career mode as calendar events, meaning you only get to play them once as you progress through your career and don’t get to freely choose which one to play. This is a rather poor compromise for what used to be a brilliant extra mode and has now been relegated to an afterthought.

WRC Generations Review - Screenshot 4 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

But hey, it’s not all bad news, there’s also the brand-new Leagues mode where you get to challenge other players online in a series of regularly updating competitions. Or that's what we’d be saying to you if we could actually find the thing anywhere.

Despite the eShop description quite clearly stating that “the new Leagues mode lets players challenge opponents with a similar level online,” and that players can “finish ahead of your competitors to move up the ladder in the Legends category”, there is precisely zero online content to be found in the Switch version of the game at the time of writing, a few days after the game’s digital release and some four weeks after its physical one.

Indeed, this review would have been published earlier had we managed to get to the bottom of this, but we’ve been contacting PRs, scouring forums, and traipsing through Discord servers, and so far we’ve seen nobody from the game’s development or publishing team shedding any light on why a major new feature being advertised on the eShop is completely AWOL, without even so much as an asterisk indicating that it’s coming later in an update.

WRC Generations Review - Screenshot 5 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

One of the reasons this concerns us is that WRC 10 also promised “a particularly competitive eSport, with daily and weekly challenges and clubs so you can create your own competitions”, a claim that remains on the game’s eShop description to this day. Despite this, no online features were ever added to WRC 10 either, which strikes us as somewhat misleading. The idea of regular challenges would be a great way to add longevity to the game, so their absence – both in the previous game and now in Generations too – is a big letdown.

As such, given what happened last time, we’re not giving WRC Generations the benefit of the doubt and just assuming Leagues will be added to the Switch version of WRC Generations any time soon, despite being advertised. Its exclusion weeks after physical launch with no explanation is a sign of poor communication at best, and at worst is a case of a mode being abandoned and leaving behind false advertising. As soon as we get a response, we’ll update this review accordingly. [UPDATE: Since publication, we have received official word that "an update is planned for WRC Generations on Nintendo Switch, which includes Leagues mode".]

For now though, let’s assume Generations won’t have any online play and that, at the very least, you certainly shouldn’t buy the game based on the promise of regular online competitive leaderboards – at this stage in the game’s life, it’s simply not a feature.

WRC Generations Review - Screenshot 6 of 6
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Instead, purely as an offline-only experience, WRC Generations is similar to its Switch predecessors in that it looks rough (particularly in handheld mode) and has an overly sensitive handling system which requires quite a bit of tweaking and practice. We only hope that Codemasters and EA decide to keep the Switch in its plans when it takes over the WRC licence, because otherwise this would be a bit of an underwhelming end for the sport on Nintendo’s console.

Conclusion

WRC Generations marks the end of a series that has never really hit cruising speed on Switch. Like its predecessors, its look and feel are subpar and while it has a lot of content, it's a struggle to enjoy it fully given how many compromises you have to make. After a lot of time spent with it, you’ll finally start to see results, but this is a game that perhaps requires too much compromise on the player’s part to appeal to anyone but the most ardent rally fans.