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DIRT 5 Review - Great Gameplay, but Poor Career Mode

DIRT 5 Review - Great Gameplay, but Poor Career Mode

Despite the initial statements about the end of support for DIRT 2.0, the developers did not quit the game - the project continues to hold the post of “serious rally” from Codemasters. Whether the developers will make DIRT 3.0 or will wait for the WRC license, the rights to which will be transferred to Codemasters from 2023, we do not know. Hardcore rally fans have to wait for the future, and today, on November 6, 2020, the release of DIRT 5, an arcade version of off-road racing from the British team, took place. Developed by a team with extensive experience in the arcade racing genre, with a track record of early WRC games, the MotorStorm series and arcade versions of DIRT, including DiRT 4. 

Visually, DIRT 5 creates a festive and party atmosphere - one glance is enough to understand that there will be no serious rally here. Before us is 100%, purebred arcade game without hints of realism and seriousness. No cheating, no marketing enticements - the developer didn't even think about poaching the rally sim fan base. This is a game from the creators of arcade car racing for arcade car racing lovers. From the very start, the game does exactly what any arcade should do - to provide the player with an opportunity to get 100% pleasure from the first minutes.

DIRT 5 Review screenshot 1

DIRT 5 has an insanely low barrier to entry. It doesn't matter if you're using a gamepad, a $ 1,500 DirectDrive wheel or a keyboard, everyone can enjoy the gameplay. I set the desired “help” settings - ABS, TC, stability control, automatic / handle and drove off. The built-in assistants work very smart, allowing you to race comfortably and quickly even on the keyboard. The AI ​​difficulty slider also works great - a competitive element can be obtained at any level of the game (excluding rally nerds, the AI ​​will not create problems for them). The car park is diverse and this is reflected not only on the visual - different cars are driven differently even within the same class, and it makes no sense to compare the modern rally and the rally of the 80s - very different cars. 

The types of tracks and competitions are also very different - there are sprint rally sections that combine gravel and asphalt, there are standard ring rallycrosses, there is a more interesting option with banking in corners and mud, and there are more unusual types of competitions, including freestyle arenas, where you need to perform tricks and gaining "style points", there are races on, ahem, turbo tractors, there is climbing a mountain in "rough terrain", where you literally ride on the rocks. The possibility of combining different racing classes and tracks creates even more variety - races in 80s rallies and modern jeeps on the same track are completely different from each other. DIRT 5 offers a lot of variety.

DIRT 5 Review screenshot 2

The positive experience of the gameplay that I described in the summer preview only intensified - the racing part turned out to be excellent. All machines are handled differently and require a different approach. Some classes prefer to drift in corners, others lose a lot of speed while sliding, and still others allow you to hit the gas early out of corners. Different classes require the development of different racing skills - these skills can be improved both on the controller and on the steering wheel. And I haven’t talked about “crazy” disciplines yet - having learned the “Scandinavian flick” on a Ford Escort, you will not be able to drive fast on racing tractors! 

I'm a fan of serious simulations and serious car racing, arcade games are not mine. At the same time, I really liked the gameplay component of DIRT 5, which I can't say about Forza Horizon 4, Project Cars 3, GRID or Need For Speed: Heat, which I deleted literally after 5 minutes of playing. DIRT 5 manages to create a clear, intuitive and expected gameplay - the cars are controlled the way I'm used to it in serious simulators, adjusted for the general arcade nature of what is happening. DIRT 5 is a great way to take a break from serious car racing, grab a gamepad and laugh at the game's crazy racing disciplines. 

DIRT 5 Review screenshot 3

But not everything is so rosy. The gaming experience is not just about driving cars. A big aspect of the new DIRT is a racing campaign with story and voice acting from two popular podcasters and voice actors I've never heard of. They joke a lot, tease each other and talk about things I do not understand. You need to really be on the subject of what is happening, listen to their podcast and know who Nolan North and Troy Baker are in general in order to enjoy their participation in the project. Which gives me the feeling that a lot of the fun associated with DIRT 5 is passing me by. 

The storyline campaign turned out to be not what I expected: the player has a set of 2-3 events, the passage of which opens access to new races and so on. To move forward, you need to earn stickers - for completing quests, for the podium, for winning. Earned 1 sticker - gained access to the next event, earned 27 stickers in one chapter - gained access to the next chapter. Tasks and goals can be rerolled, but this is neither warm nor cold - they only affect the relationship of sponsors, you will not be able to miss the race.

DIRT 5 Review screenshot 4

The problem is also in how the developers organized these same events - in the first 20 races, I got a lot of repetitive tracks. One and the same Norwegian track hosted 4 almost identical races with the only difference - weather conditions. DIRT 5 offers a lot more variety than the story campaign does. You go into arcade mode and your eyes start to run up; you enter a campaign - you do the same thing. Often limited to certain types of races. If you want to go further on the plot - here's a race on tractors and here's a race on ice. Either come in or go. The first two chapters for me consisted mainly of off-road races, which I don't like, on two tracks that have become boring. 

The campaign honestly doesn't feel as fun and epic as the trailers and videos show it. The developers have again got a set of events. The voice acting of the game does not touch me in any way and does not make me believe that I am a living person with a career in auto racing: there is no connection between various events, and sponsorship, earning various points and money do not bother me much - they do not affect the gameplay in any way, only open options customization of profile cards and cars. 

The customization of the appearance of the cars is extensive, but at the same time the selection of coloring pages from the developers is very small. I bought a new car, and it has 3 unique liveries and all are closed - one requires level 40 of this car, the other needs to raise its reputation, and the third requires a high account level. You can paint the cars yourself, and there are a lot of variations, including various sponsored stickers and stickers, but in my opinion, the game should offer a large selection of prepared coloring pages.

DIRT 5 Review screenshot 5

The ability to quickly fly into the race in old rally cars, finish it in 3 minutes, change to tractors, finish them in 5 minutes and instantly rush into the next event is a huge plus of the game. No waiting, no need to stare at loading screens for 30 seconds, or navigate through 20 different menus to participate in a short race. Two clicks - and you play the game. Customization should be as quick and simple, but it turns out that if you want a unique coloring, you need to customize everything with your hands for 5 minutes, using imagination, which the player may not have. Due to the fact that the game offers several racing classes at once, a dozen cars will have to be decorated. 

There is no functional progress in leveling. There are no vehicle upgrades, pilot skills improvements, no “faster” vehicle classes in the game. From the very beginning, you can buy any car, paint it and drive it. The player is limited by money and it will not be possible to quickly buy up the entire vehicle fleet, but there is no need to strive for some kind of car. On the one hand, this is a plus - you can choose a car visually, because of the brand or the balance of speed / handling, and it will be as competitive as all other cars in the class. On the other hand, there must be an element of development in the career of an arcade racing game. Otherwise, as I mentioned above, you get a set of events.

DIRT 5 Review screenshot 6

I have had the key for the game for a week and on the first day I could not play due to incompatibility with the RTX 3070 - there were a lot of graphic artifacts. On day 3, the problem was fixed, but there were other bugs related to the gameplay component. Today, with the third patch, all my problems are gone. The developers are very quick and efficient in fixing bugs and making fixes, including optimization improvements. After the first game session I got quite angry, but Codemasters' quick work on making improvements is commendable. The latest releases show how much everyone with new consoles is in a hurry with the release of games - where you will not look, either a sea of ​​bugs on the release, or the transfer of game releases. DIRT 5 was affected by this too - despite the postponement of the release from the original date in October to November, there are enough technical problems - even support for steering wheels and pedals is not fully implemented and many kits are simply not supported. For example, my pedals don't work at all. So in this regard, I recommend to be on your guard - not the fact that everything will work perfectly if you purchase the game on the day of release. 

Multiplayer is a regular quickplay. I pressed the only search button, chose one of two modes - race or party - you were thrown into some kind of game. You can gather a group of up to 4 people and play multiplayer with friends, but I did not find control over the type of game, tracks and racing classes. The multiplayer works fine - the cars drive without lags, there are no freezes or brakes. I can't find fault with the technical component. I would like more options for creating a lobby, managing the server, etc., for this game is a big minus. In addition, the ability to skip the final result was removed online. In a single player, I hit ENTER 10 times and went to the menu after 5 seconds, and online you need to watch all the animations of the podiums, scoring and the leaderboard, which stretches for a good 3-4 minutes. Sadly.

DIRT 5 Review screenshot 7

Performance is bad. I played on a powerful computer with an Intel Core i7-10700K processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 video card, and all that the game could do was 40-50 FPS at maximum graphics settings at 2560x1080. The same story was in the preview version of the game, but I chalked it up to the raw build. As a result, the performance is about the same - the game needs a video card of 2080ti level or higher to provide a stable 60FPS at high graphics settings. You can forget about ultra settings. Where they are going to screw RT lighting there - I don't know. Probably, they want to demonstrate 30FPS on new video cards from AMD. The jacket bribed! 

To summarize, I repeat. Gameplay DIRT 5 is a gorgeous arcade game, the choice of cars and tracks is excellent, there are many unique competitions, the controls are good. The design of the story campaign, in which the developers put a lot of effort, unfortunately turned out to be so-so. Playable, but not addictive. Optimization of the game is poor, bugs are present, multiplayer is limited. If you just want to launch the game and chase, then DIRT 5 is an excellent choice, but if you want a deep career mode or multiplayer, then this is not here. 


  • Great arcade
  • Variety of game modes, tracks and cars
  • Nice graphics


  • Bad optimization
  • Many bugs that developers are actively fixing
  • Career regime is weak