Lots of fun on the playground

DIRT 5 Preview: The New Playgrounds Mode

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DIRT 5 Preview: how the new Playgrounds mode plays

The offroad racer DIRT 5 gets an editor with playgrounds and we have tried it out. (Image credit: Codemasters)

During an exclusive DIRT 5 preview, we had the opportunity to get our hands on the brand-new Playgrounds mode of the off-road racing game. We'll tell you what to expect in this game mode and why it really brings a breath of fresh air.

DIRT is back. On October 16, Codemasters' off-road racing game series celebrates its comeback. Compared to the simulation-heavy DiRT Rally 2.0, DIRT 5 is clearly heading in the direction of fun-racing, as the new Playgrounds mode proves. For the DIRT 5 preview, we tried the new play mode for the first time and had a lot of fun.

Quick Facts about DIRT 5:

  • Developer: Codemasters
  • Publisher: Codemasters
  • Genre: Racing Game
  • Release date: October 16, 2020
  • Price: from €55.99

Video credit: DIRT via YouTube

DIRT 5 Preview: Welcome to the Playground

When you think of the Codemasters DIRT series, you think first and foremost of tough rally stages where any driving error will result in retirement. But don't worry: DIRT 5 is much more beginner friendly. Part 5 marks the continuation of the fun racer track that the legendary racing game series started with Colin McRae DiRT 2 in 2009. In the future, the British developers at Codemasters want to go two ways. DiRT Rally for the sim-racing fans and DIRT for those who don't insist on realism.

While the rally offshoots concentrate on classic stages and rallycross, in DIRT 5 variety rules. Nine different vehicle classes are available to choose from, with which we compete in varied Rally Raid, Landrush, or Icebreaker events. However, the developers also came up with a new game mode: Playgrounds - a game mode unique to the DIRT series that focuses on the creativity of the community.

In the new DIRT 5 Playgrounds mode we create our own tracks and share our creations with the community

In Playgrounds mode we cobble together our own tracks. (Image credit: Codemasters)

The Playgrounds Mode in DIRT 5

DIRT 5's Playgrounds mode is basically a classic track editor where you cobble together your own courses. As part of our DIRT 5 preview, we had three different environments to choose from, in which we could let off steam freely. Do you prefer the skyline of Cape Town in the background or rather the desolate desert of Arizona?

Once loaded, we had an endless number of options to choose from for the initially empty terrain. Of course, we can also choose the vehicle class ourselves: from rally cars to massive trucks. We place the starting point, add curves and obstacles. Maybe a tube here? A small loop there? Woah, looks good. Oh yes: don't forget the finish.

In the DIRT 5 editor of the Playground mode we create our own routes and park routes

Thanks to countless options, the editor allows us to give free rein to our creativity. (Image credit: Codemasters)

Does everything fit? Then do a quick test run on your own track and publish it. Thanks to intuitive controls, even amateurs can create their own track within minutes - ideally collecting many upvotes from the DIRT 5 community. Granted: We have never been the most creative minds when it comes to editors in games. Luckily, the community has already presented a good preview version of the game.

In DIRT 5 Playgrounds mode we create our own obstacle courses or puzzle courses

Whether a riddle on wheels or a crisp obstacle course: there are no limits to your imagination. (Image credit: Codemasters)

Smash Attack, Gate Crasher or Gymkhana?

The DIRT 5 Playgrounds mode focuses on the three disciplines that long-time series veterans should know best. Smash Attack, Gate Crasher, and Gymkhana. We can't create classic rally stages or circuits in the editor. That doesn't matter though because within the three disciplines the most absurd and craziest tracks are possible, as the community proves.

In Smash Attack, for example, you can create a treasure hunt for players who have to destroy several cardboard stands to reach the finish line. Will you find and master all the gates on an obstacle course in Gate Crasher? Or do you prefer the perfect flow with donuts, spins, and jumps on a Gymkhana course?

What is Gymkhana? Take a look at the following video by Grandmaster Ken Block:

Video credit: Hoonigan via YouTube

All three modes in DIRT 5 Playgrounds have one thing in common: they are fun! At least when the creators of the track have made some effort. In fact, the Playgrounds mode is a bit like Trackmania from a gameplay perspective, because here too we create (or play) courses where it's important to reach the goal in one piece.

Sometimes we search between fat trucks for hidden cardboard displays, sometimes we fight in the stadium to reach the next goal. Variety is already here. It's hard to imagine what the DIRT 5 community will do after the big release in October.

In DIRT 5, gymkhana will be performed again. In Playgrounds mode we even create our own challenges

Gymkhana is back, baby. Drifts and spins are as much fun as ever. (Image credit: Codemasters)

DIRT 5 Playgrounds Mode: Our Verdict

DIRT 5 will be a welcome change for fans of offroad racing games. Sure, the fun racer approach might not appeal to simulation fans, but with DiRT Rally 2.0 they have enough anyway. In terms of gameplay as well as visually DIRT 5 is closer to the third part of the series: finally, everything is a little bit more colorful, beginner-friendly, and designed so you can enjoy it. From a technical point of view, the preview version already cuts a good figure and convinces us with chic car models and special effects.

The catchy arcade driving experience allows for precise drifts, both with the steering wheel and the controller. Plug it in, start the game, and just enjoy it. That's exactly the kind of fun that the brand new Playgrounds mode takes to the extreme. With the intuitive track editor, you can create your own track in minutes and if you don't feel like it, you can simply try out players' creations. Even in the DIRT 5 preview version, we got a good impression of what will be possible with the editor.

From riddles on wheels to obstacle courses with huge jumps and steep slopes to incredibly satisfying gymkhana slopes - there's nothing that doesn't exist here. This is fun. Especially if you've already experienced DIRT 2 and DIRT 3.

DIRT 5 is evolving into the ultimate off-road game for racing fans who don't feel like playing a rock-hard simulation. Gameplay variety, chic technology, and a great driving experience should provide many hours of fun after the official release in October (even if we miss the classic rally stages a little bit).

Read more about eRacing and esports on EarlyGame. We'll tell you which cars and tracks await you in Project Cars 3 and how Gran Turismo will utilize the PS5's next-gen power.

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Tasho Tashev

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