I’d had little experience of the DiRT series before this game, but its reveal at the Inside Xbox of May interested me enough to take a look at some of the previous games. DiRT 4 was on Game Pass, with me also during that time finding myself with DiRT Rally 2.0 for free from a promotion from Fanatical. Those were good experiences, so it heightened my confidence the new game would be great.
And I can say it is indeed as great as I expected. There’s a range of tracks that offer variety, with forests, quarries, cities, and even a snow sports resort. Each of the tracks look great, with some excellent lighting providing realistic weather effects. When it gets dark, it really gets dark, and combined with rain or snow it makes for some dangerously slim sight. That just adds to the thrill of it, though.
There’s a good range of vehicles here, split into categories. Each track will have a number of these categories that can be used on it. The handling is very arcade styled, with a few settings that can be toggled to make things easier should you wish, with the first race dropping you into things to allow you to feel that handling and whether you need to toggle things.
I’m happy with how the driving feels, with differences between the various power ranges being noticeable when on the track. Various surfaces such as mud and ice also affect those driving physics, but only to a small degree. Being an arcade racer, that’s not a bad thing.
The career mode is simple enough, with three objectives per race to complete to earn stars that will help you progress. This career mode is simple enough, with a line of events with alternate routes you can take. Getting to the end of a chapter isn’t enough, however, as you’ll need to have earned enough tokens from completing event objectives to be able to complete the final race to move on. There’s three event objectives per race, with the usual racing concepts such as overtaking a certain amount of people and keeping above a set speed for a certain amount of time, to the more unusual such as finishing the race in reverse.
Each time you complete the race, the event objectives will change (unless you retry from the results screen). You can see these objectives on the event information of the career menu, with the ability to reroll the objectives should you not like what you are seeing. It’s not just standard circuit races you’ll find among these events, as there’s also sprints and Gymkhana thrown in. If you don’t know what Gymkhama is, it’s the art of performing stunts such as drifts and jumps using a vehicle.
Winning events earns money that can be used to buy new cars (you’ll have one per category already available to you), so of course the first thing I had to do was grab the Mini Cooper Sport. Why would I not? Experience is also earned, along with reputation during career events, with these unlocking various cosmetics for the vehicles and your profile. Decals can be attached to cars, along with giving them a new coat of paint. It’s not the most detailed system, but it allows a decent amount of personalisation.
Something I also like is the photo mode. When within an event, you can pause the game and head into this mode. The action will remain frozen, where you can then position the camera to take a snap, using a number of photo effects to take some great looking pictures. It’s easy to get into it and easy to use, and just like with other games I’ve found myself using it a lot. In fact, all the pictures within this article were taken by me using that photo mode (including those on the title card).
If you don’t want to get into racing on the standard tracks, Playgrounds mode is also a thing. This is the mode for those who enjoy user-created content. Players can create a playground in one of three game types, using a range of props. There’s Gate Crasher – which is a time trial event, Smash Attack – which tests racers with collecting blocks while avoiding the penalties in the smallest time, and Gymkhana – a points-based mode where accumulating the most points in a set amount of time is the aim.
There’s some crazy creations from what I’ve seen around, with tight turns, jumps, and high-in-the-air straights. It’s even possible – should you care to – create wall rides. The creation is easy enough, with the ability to snap props to each other and set the rotation value to jump that number of degrees. It’s not as complex as the creator of GTA V in the number of props available or the versatility of placing them, but there’s room for some great builds to come from it.
The leaderboards present give score chasers a thing to aim for in trying to perfect their runs to climb as high as they can. I’ve already found myself being sucked into such with what has to be my favourite Gate Crasher course. One that proves just what sort of complexity you can work into these creations. While I’ve only stuck to the high rated Gate Crashers, they are a lot of fun. Since tracks do need to be completed by the creator before they can be published, there’s not going to be any incompletable events here, though you might find some ragequit worthy efforts in the future.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen over these past five days with the game, with the races always presenting something new and some fun moments from mistakes from you, the AI, or other drivers online. There’s enough here to keep any racing fan busy, and with the Playgrounds mode sure to give endless time trial and score chaser events, there is a lot to get into. Since the mechanics of driving work great for the style of game (if maybe struggling a bit with funny landings), it’s an easy recommendation for all.