Dirt 5’s sublime racing experience is held back by a lackluster online feature set.
Developer – Codemasters Cheshire
Publisher – Codemasters
Platforms – PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC
Another generation, another Dirt, it could be so easy to grow weary and exhausted by the sheer amount of Dirt titles that have hit the shelves in the past 10 years.
After four of the arcade and fun loving Dirt games, we had a return to purity with the Dirt rally series. Stripped down and fundamentally a more serious approach to off roading.
Dirt titles always get the typical improvements and upgrades you expect from a sequel. Better graphics, more cars, some refinements to existing systems and more along those lines. Codemasters must have felt a certain kind of way about that pattern, because Dirt 5 really takes the old franchise to new levels.
Now to really talk about what they changed about Dirt 5 let’s talk about what they have kept. The absolutely stunning visuals have returned. This time the PC and next gen versions version performs incredibly right out of the gate. I have yet to encounter any technical issues with 5. On the Xbox Series X, the game is rocking steady at a locked frame-rate.
The same great physics system returns. The feel of every single car is handled to perfection. The tuning allows you to control how much simulation vs arcade feel you want to go for. The assists all return and haven’t changed much from previous iterations.
Now that we have got that out of the way, let’s talk about whats new.
Previous Dirt games, despite their excellence always had a couple things truly keeping them from perfection, the career progression, and the online integration.
The problem with that format was the progression didn’t feel satisfying. Gathering enough money, and expanding felt inevitable, but never fun in the moment. The way the game never really forced you to try different vehicles or play-styles would eventually make progressing through the festival races more of chore, than a fun task.
They always had a ton of content, just never a clear direction for said content. Cross country races, sprint races and gymkhana would all co-exist with no clear motivation for wanting to pursue any of these different styles outside of your own desire to perform that activity at a given time.
On it’s own, the old method wasn’t broken, or even bad by any means. By Dirt 3 though, that formula was feeling stale, and it was something nagging at me and it ultimately kept me from caring much about any career events I unlocked.
All of these different gameplay elements and racing styles all combine to complete change how you can play, progress, and interact with the content they have. Dirt 5’s excellent driving systems and physics make each event, car and activity rewarding and exciting.
As I look back on my time with the game, the online doesn’t do nearly as much as the rest and is easily the glaring problem Dirt 5 has.
Online only has two options to choose from, with no custom lobbies or even mode selection. It feels completely barebones, and even Mario Kart has a more robust online offering.
It’s odd because local split screen play offers a ton of options. Four players, co-op campaign mode, even created courses can be done together. It’s truly and if you are done with the single player offerings the online won’t offer any incentive to stick around.
Dirt 5 is a great launch title, and the on track racing experience is sublime. It’s too bad a completely lackluster online takes a lot of the shine out of the whole experience.