If your gaming life is lacking natural terrain, fear not... Dirt 5 is finally on its way.
In a Microsoft presentation showing off the gameplay we can expect to see in the upcoming Xbox Series X, the next title in Codemasters’ Dirt franchise made its first public appearance.
It’s also the first driving game to be confirmed for the all-new Xbox Series X. We were expecting Forza Motorsport 8 to have a solid chance of forming part of Microsoft’s Series X preview, but Dirt 5 has beaten it to that particular finish line.
It was also confirmed as a PlayStation 5-compatible title shortly after Microsoft’s announcement, meaning it will likely be the first racing title to be available across both of those ninth-generation consoles when they launch just ahead of Christmas this year.
So what’s in store? For the uninitiated, it’s probably best to know that there are actually two different tiers of Dirt, which confusingly share very similar names.
Right now there’s Dirt 2.0 and Dirt 4, which are sold side-by-side but don’t quite compete with each other. Dirt 2.0 is a rally sim, and a brutally difficult and unforgiving one at that.
Dirt 4, meanwhile, gives a more user-friendly experience. The vehicle physics might not be a full-fidelity rendition of real-life rally car dynamics, but it’s more fun, easier to pick up and play and less daunting for the average player.
It’s the arcade cousin to the serious sim that is Dirt 2.0.
For Dirt 5, however, developer Codemasters is going to lean more heavily toward the arcade side of the spectrum.
The hype video tells you that instantly – the colours are bright and bold, the cars are racing wheel-to-wheel in a rallycross style rather than the more accurate solo stages of real rallies, and the environments are big, expansive and look not all that dissimilar to the open-world maps of Forza Horizon titles.
In fact, if you’re familiar with the off-road races in Forza Horizon 4, you might feel that the racing depicted in the above vid could be almost interchangeable.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing – the races in FH4 are fast, frenetic and fun, after all.
What else can we expect? Codemasters says that the ‘vibe’ of Dirt 5 should mark it as something quite distinct from previous iterations in the Dirt franchise, saying that: “booting up Dirt 5 feels like you’re stepping into a brand new culture, surrounded by style and encouraging you to express yourself, whatever it is you’re doing.”
We interpret that to mean that there should be a fairly robust car customisation system in the game; one, hopefully, that is as good as the livery editors and vehicle modification interfaces of Forza Horizon 4 and Need For Speed Heat.
A photo mode will allow you to show off your unique vehicles, and Codemasters says there will be a decent spread of “GT heroes, rough-and-ready buggies, classic rally legends and more” to hoon around in.
A solid car list is still some way off from being announced, though.
Even so, we can see a range of off-road powertoys including the Ariel Nomad, plus less-obvious choices like a classic Ford Mustang, a Porsche 911 and an Aston Martin Vantage, alongside expected rally racers like the Citroen C3 R5 and Lancia Stratos.
New York, China and Norway are the three locales confirmed thus far, and Codemasters has also announced that a four-player split screen mode will be built into Dirt 5 to give it proper ‘party game’ credentials.
Twelve-player online multiplayer will also be a focus, and a single-player career mode promises some narrative-driven racing action.
The last major detail announced for Dirt 5 is that while it will be coded to take full advantage of the Xbox Series X’s beastly technology, while also remaining fully compatible with the Xbox One platform.
That means higher-resolution textures, 4K at up to 120 frames per second and ultra-fast loading times for those playing on a Series X.
Dirt 5 will go on sale for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 in the fourth quarter of this year, with precise timing to be announced closer to launch.