DiRT Rally 2.0 – Hands On

AOR’s Official DiRT Rally Coordinator Nigel “SereneLogic” Croese, and Community Manager Fernando Moutinho, share their thoughts & experience from their time with DiRT Rally 2.0

Let us take you back in time to the year of 2003, when Warthog Games released the now legendary Richard Burns Rally. A game that not only revolutionised the video game rally genre, but also set new standards for it. Those seeking the thrills of a rally simulator from the comfort of their own home, praised it to no end. And for many years, it would remain the king of rally sims.

Enter 2015’s DiRT Rally, originally released on early access, which then lead to it’s full release later that year, it completely rewrote the rulebook for rally sims. Highly praised by critics and the community, it was only a matter of time until the crown was claimed by Codemasters once again, with DiRT Rally sitting at the throne.

Fast forward to 2019, and much like a young prince taking over the duties of a king, DiRT Rally 2.0 is now the new ruler of the rally sims land! It is everything one would need to immerse themselves into the life of a rally driver, tackling challenging yet beautiful stages at speeds that make the toughest of drivers beg for mercy.

The User Interface, a sleek and modern stylish layout, welcomed us into DiRT Rally 2.0. We struggled to understand it at first, as there were times (albeit rare ones) where we were not sure if we had selected the intended car or track, and would make a wrong selection instead. However, what initially seemed to be randomly places tiles, turned out to be a ergonomically designed UI! It is something that may take some time to get used to, but once we did, things started to make more sense. The main selective items take the most space and immediately grab the player’s attention, while still keeping the minor ones in plain view and easily accessible.

Once we had familiarize ourselves with the menus, we hopped into Time Trial to try out the various vehicles and locations available. And we completely fell in love with the the handling and physics of all the vehicles in the game. With the help of force feedback, it is the absolute best rally sim experience for a rally driver to date. All of which packed into one of the most attractive visuals we have had the pleasure of experiencing in a rally game.

Familiar locations return, such as Australia and Spain, and new to the series Poland is also available for drivers to experience. However, stage variety did not change as much as we had hoped for, as we found it to be somewhat limited. Each location features 12 stages, of which 6 of them are almost identical, as you drive on a familiar roads, the stage then breaks at a intersection and goes into a different direction, while others are driven in the opposite direction. Which, insight, it is a regular practice in the real world, but not to this extent. The amount of stage distance one has to experience is also limited. and it could lead to repetition. However, other locations such as Monte Carlo and Germany, have been confirmed to be included in Season One post-launch downloadable content. It is up to players to experience these stages with different vehicles to really get the best out of them.

After we were done playing around in Time Trial, we stepped into the Career Mode – the main attraction of DiRT Rally 2.0. It starts with two already pre-selected cars, the Lancia Fulvia HF for rally, and the Opel Corsa Super 1600 for RallyCross. With these cars you can take part in your first championships, and as you progress throughout these events, you will earn credits to spent on upgrades, hiring better staff and buy new cars for future events.

However, this is where we encountered our first sticking point with the career mode. Unlike DiRT4, where players can freely select and adjust their preferred difficulty settings from the start, DiRT Rally 2.0 does not offer anything of this sort outside of it’s “Freeplay” mode. Instead, players are up against AI opponents on the lowest difficulty right from the start, only increasing once enough progressed has been made at the end of each championship series. This, unfortunately, made our career progression slow, and sometimes a chore, as we found it too easy for our personal skill level.

The lack of custom liveries (a feature also present in DiRT4) is missing. A significant and important factor, as it makes the player lose all connection or sense of ownership they have with the team of engineers and even personal vehicles, which also impacted the career progression negatively.

And in online RallyCross races, players would randomly get replaced by AI opponents. This, combined with the restrictive options and modes available, lead to a somewhat lacklustre multiplayer experience. Furthermore, the absence of “clubs” is disappointing, however we expect to see this feature to be released in due time.

We did however find some minor issues on the PC version. Some stages and track sections causes the frame rate to drop, and surprisingly, night stages seemed to be the worse ones. We hope it can be easily fixed in a future patch in the near future.

So, would we recommend DiRT Rally 2.0 to old school players, or fans of the original DiRT Rally? Absolutely! Even with the aforementioned issues, there is nothing but joy in the actual driving, and honestly, this is where the game stands head and shoulders alongside every other sim racing game out there right now. It is the complete package for die hard fans of rally, and perhaps the best game from Codemasters.

Co-written by Fernando Moutinho (Twitter: @FernandoM76) and Nigel Croese (Twitter: @_SereneLogic )

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