DIRT 5 Preview

Set to release on October 16th, Codemasters’ DIRT 5 is the latest addition in the franchise and will be available on both current and next-gen consoles, along with PC and Stadia, the latter of which has a release date of 2021. Following an emerging trend, DIRT 5 will offer a free upgrade for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 for those who own a physical or digital copy of the game for current generation consoles, and like with some other games, there don’t appear to be any strings attached.

Here at Gaming Respawn, we were lucky enough to get our hands on a preview build of the upcoming game, and I have to say, it’s looking pretty good.

The first thing I noticed about DIRT 5 was how great the soundtrack was. The official Codemasters blog describes it as the biggest and most diverse DIRT soundtrack ever” with over 40 soundtracks from multiple genres and artists ranging from The Killers to The Prodigy. If you’ve played any of the previous DIRT titles, you probably know that music is an important aspect – Codemasters have made it clear that DIRT 2 and DIRT 3 were particularly influential in this aspect. Fans were expecting an impressive soundtrack – understandable considering how much you’re exposed to it – and from what I’ve heard from the preview build, Codemasters have delivered on this front.

Visually, DIRT 5 is looking very fresh. All the bright colours, both in-game and on the menu screen, contrast the dirt tracks nicely, making the cars and any other obstacles really pop. The full game is set to have a huge variety of cars too, with classes ranging from Cross Raid to Sprint, so there will be plenty to sink our teeth into. It feels good too – that’s always important in a racing game. There’s always the risk of having controls that are too sensitive or not sensitive enough, but DIRT 5 finds a happy medium.

Now, most of the features weren’t available in this preview build, but I did get to try out DIRT 5’s Playgrounds mode. If you’ve played DIRT 4, you’ll be familiar with Your Stage, an algorithm that allows players to generate maps by adjusting certain things like length, complexity, time and weather. DIRT 5 takes this to the next level with Playgrounds, which allows you to create tracks from scratch either in the Arizona desert or the Cape Town Stadium. There’s a whole catalogue of objects, from ramps to flaming rings, that can be used to create some truly amazing racing arenas, and it’s all fairly intuitive. You simply choose objects from the catalogue and position them as you feel fit, and then you can playtest to make sure everything works before publishing, should you want to share your creation.

Of course, there is a limit to what you can create. You can make some really impressive tracks, but you’re restricted to the objects in the catalogue; however, considering this is just one of several other modes, it is still a very welcome addition, and I’m sure plenty of fans will devote hours to this mode. I, for one, am excited to see what people come up with.

If you couldn’t tell, I had a lot of fun with Playgrounds, even if it was a little daunting at first. In create mode, you’re met with a completely blank arena, and I spent a long while trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do, but after trying out some of the arenas other players had created, I found some inspiration and am well on my way to making something at least half-way decent. Players have the opportunity to create for specific events –  Gate Crasher, Gymkhana and Smash Attack, and the official descriptions taken from the Codemasters blog are as follows.

– Gate Crasher: Create incredible high-speed runs, insanely difficult routes and any time-trial based event in between with Gate Crasher. The route for players to take to successfully complete the event will be laid out by gates that you place onto the arena.

– Smash Attack: Challenge players to find and collect objects in your arena in the shortest time possible, and place penalty objects for racers to avoid at all costs!

– Gymkhana: For the first time ever, design your own Gymkhana arena for players to throw down. Place spots for drifting, donuts, jumps and more for players to accumulate points on for style, speed and flow in this time-based event.

Of course, the amount of content available through Playgrounds is relatively limited at the moment, but once the game is officially released, there will no doubt be plenty more player-designed arenas to enjoy.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I enjoyed my time with the DIRT 5 preview build, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to try it out. Playgrounds was a truly enjoyable experience that sets DIRT 5 apart from previous entries. Gamers like having the freedom to be creative, and I always find myself in awe of what others create, so for me the Playgrounds feature is a huge selling point, and it will only get better once the full game releases and more players have the opportunity to create their own unique experiences. The DIRT 5 preview was an awesome experience and a nice little insight into what is to come, and I can’t wait to try out the full game when it releases in October.

DIRT 5 is set to release for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on the 16th October, with next-gen upgrades available at a later date and a Stadia version coming in 2021. You can check out the official features trailer below.

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