Dirt 5 may not be out for another four months, but we were lucky enough to get some hands-on time with an early beta of the game.
The build we were supplied featured four routes from the game’s 10 different locations that will be available at launch. Those four routes were in China, Brazil, Norway, and Arizona with each having multiple cars and class options to utilize. The classes included Ultracross, Land Rush, Stampede and the debuting Sprint class with each race having three different weather/time of day scenarios.
Now that those details are out of the way, let’s talk about the game itself, starting with the environments.
As expected, Codemasters has made the look and feel of each location feel pretty lifelike. Every circuit has something that makes it stand out from the rest. In Arizona for Sprint races, the mountainous desert backdrop looks spectacular while the jungle in Brazil gives you a feeling that one wrong turn can get you lost, even with a restricted track.
The dynamic weather and day/night cycle is where Dirt 5 really shines at this point. Norway had, by far, the coolest weather and time cycle in any of the races. Starting in the late afternoon, you watch as cloudy skies with snow gives way to clear dark skies with the Northern Lights visible from the course (you can see that in the full race gameplay below). There’s even a scenario where you can experience whiteout conditions with thunder snow, making driving nearly impossible if you don’t have a feel for the circuit. In Brazil, torrential rains cause a muddy track filled with puddles with little-to-no grip available for drivers.
From a gameplay perspective, controlling each vehicle feels completely different from one another. A Sprint Car feels a lot looser to control than a X Cross Raid while a 90’s rally drifts around corners with ease compared to the Superlite model. While a controller is enjoyable to use, you’ll definitely get a more exciting experience if you have a wheel to use. Even without force feedback being implemented at this point, drifting around corners and making tight turns just feels satisfying with a wheel and gear shift.
Aside from the control of the vehicles, it’s quickly noticed how the tires grip the track in different situations. Sometimes you have perfect control with your car’s direction while other situations find you fighting just to keep your car straight. It’s all a part of the nice mix between the game’s weather system and overall gameplay it offers.
Each race event presents its own set of challenges. Sprint races are what you would expect: a quick and chaotic sprint, no pun intended, around an oval where one wrong turn has you careening into a wall. Ultracross takes Rallycross racing and turns the rush and excitement dial up to 11. Stampede makes you worry that mistiming a jump or hitting it at the wrong angle will leave you on your side with your opponents flying by where as Land Rush gives you a feeling that no one can stop you as you power your way through some of the more rigid and rough twists and turns.
The game feels far more on the arcade side of things than past installments, but to paraphrase a legendary wrestle: that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, that’s a good thing.
Dirt 5 launches October 9 for Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Steam. The game will also be available on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 after those systems launch.
What do you think about Dirt 5? Let us know in the comment section below, and stick with Sports Gamers Online for more.
*An early beta version of Dirt 5 was provided to SGO for the purpose of this preview*