DiRT 4 – First Look


DiRT 4 is one of the most eagerly awaited Rally titles for this generation of video games, following the success of DiRT Rally in 2015 (and the console release in 2016). On Monday, I was in attendance at a press event in San Francisco, which was the first time DiRT 4 was playable in North America! I was able to spend 4 hours previewing the title on the Playstation 4, both with a gamepad and a Logitech G29 racing wheel. Here are some of my thoughts!

Evolution From DiRT Rally

DiRT Rally saw Codemasters shifting over to a more hardcore racing experience, including more authentic physics, which gained the title “The Spiritual Successor to Richard Burns Rally”. With this being the next numbered iteration, racers were concerned that DiRT 4 would regress back to the mentality of its predecessors, including the “Dudebro/Hoonigan/Energy Drink Fuelled” status. I’m pleased to say that this is NOT the case, and it genuinely feels like DiRT Rally (with Simulation Physics), but moving a little further.

It feels like major improvements have been made on the Asphalt/Gravel side, which I felt was a little lackluster in DiRT Rally. Now, the cars have a far better sense of weight, and will authentically handle on paved surfaces.

While I was not able to record the sounds in my trip, I could tell sounds have been improved. It still sounds similar to DiRT Rally, but there are minor improvements. The Co-Driver does talk a lot more during the race, and I could hear a Spotter making calls in Rallycross and Landrush modes.

Visually Impressive, Even in Alpha

DiRT 4 isn’t slated for release until June, but it is already quite solid, especially for an alpha! Codemasters has been known to feature fairly well optimized software, and this is no different. The courses had a great amount of variety, and showcased what the sim is capable of in terms of feeling a great atmosphere.

Frame rate seemed pretty solid, around 60 FPS with the stock Developer Unit Playstation 4 (my camera was set to 1080p/30fps, so the camera feed is NOT representative of actual frame rate). There were a couple minor dips, but it wasn’t much of a problem. I was shocked at how smooth it was, but I’m happy with what I was playing.

“Your Stage” is As Good as it Sounds!

One of the main features I got to test out was “Your Stage”, which showcased a course generator, that was “truly dynamic”. I got to test it out, and I never saw two courses that were identical. In addition, I was shocked to see how there was really no difference between the “pre-made” courses, and a Your Stage course.

The way you set up the course is via two sliders, dubbed “Length” and “Complexity”. You can adjust the length from anywhere between ~1 Mile, all the way to over 11 mile long courses! With the complexity, you can either have relatively straight courses, or fill it with bends, turns, and elevation changes.

I talked with Clive Moody (Executive Producer of DiRT 4), and he mentioned a staggering fact: not counting time of day/weather variants, there are around 10 SEPTILLION potential combinations possible with Your Stage. To put that in a number figure, that is 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible courses!

With DiRT 4, you have the option to save courses that you like, and share them with friends, to compete via leaderboards!

Some Locations Won’t Return to DiRT 4

DiRT 4 will ship out the box with Powy (Wales), Michigan (USA), Fitzroy (Australia), Värmland (Sweden), and Tarragona (Spain). According to this, only ONE location is returning from DiRT Rally.

Pikes Peak is one of the notable courses to be absent from DiRT 4. In my interview with Clive Moody (which will be up later this week), he said that this was due to the course being exclusively licensed by another title. This seems to go in line with rumors that Pikes Peak will be returning to Gran Turismo Sport.

It remains to be seen if other venues from DiRT Rally will make it into DiRT 4, but time will tell.

The Driving School is Shades of Richard Burns Rally

The Driving School is one of the many features that racers enjoyed about Richard Burns Rally. In addition to lessons, RBR featured a “playground” area, where you could goof off, and learn driving technique.

DiRT 4 also has that same functionality, as well as the massive “Playground” area. The area is a 70 Acre (3,067,708 ft²) facility, that is open for you to roam around. Lessons also take place in the facility, in coned off segments.

From my testing, the driving lessons work via an AI car first showing you what to do, along with commentary. From there, you’re given free reign to practice the skill in the section. It’s worth mentioning there’s no time constraint, or Gold/Silver/Bronze medal system like in any other sim lesson section, and you’re able to test to your hearts content. I would have liked to see some incentive, but there isn’t anything truly negative with the lessons.

Some Other Notes

Along with what I got to test out, I learned some information that is pretty important to the community.

-Virtual Reality is becoming more and more important, and that was made evident in VR Support being added to DiRT Rally. Clive Moody stated that VR will NOT be supported in DiRT 4 upon launch. Codemasters is planning on adding VR support in a future update, but they “are focusing on making sure ‘Your Stage’ is running as optimally as possible at release'”.

-Triple Screens will be somewhat supported, in the same way DiRT Rally/other Codemasters titles are supported. Unfortunately, it sounds like that is NOT multi-screen/multi-view rendering.

-Land Rush and Rallycross have made their return, and they are still quite fun! The trophy trucks and buggies are a blast, and a new “CrossKart” is a welcome, but challenging addition!

-DiRT 4, from what I saw, likely will NOT have PvP (Player vs. Player) Rally stages. I didn’t see anything regarding it in the menu, but I saw online leaderboard competitions. There WILL be PvP in Rallycross and Landrush modes.

-The Co-Driver can be customized to the driver’s liking. You can set the co-driver to make calls earlier or later. You can also turn on or off the visual cues. Codemasters has talked about the possibility of an in-depth Co-Driver mode (NOT like the PSVR DiRT Rally mode), where a friend could take the role of a co-driver, and actually give off calls. This, however, will NOT be in the release version of DiRT 4!

-The Repair Menu is VERY fleshed out compared to DiRT 4. Damaged components of the car now have multiple options:

  • Quick Repair: Faster repair, but may not be as sturdy
  • Repair: Takes a little longer, but is a little better
  • Replace: Takes the longest time, but adds a whole new component to the car

-The Car Setup screen is also improved, giving more in-depth views on what can be done with the car. It also gives a decent explanation of settings, which can help people learn to tweak setups.

I am VERY excited to seeing more from DiRT 4! Hopefully I’ll find more time to test in the future, and we will be able to see what more there is to come!

What are your thoughts on DiRT 4? Let us know!