DIRT 5 Review: Less Realism, More Fun? | EarlyGame
The offroad arcade fun is back

DIRT 5 Review: Less Realism, More Fun?

The rally cars duel each other on the track. DIRT 5 turns out to be a fun off-road hunt
DIRT 5 is all about the fun of driving - and that's a damn good thing. (Image Credit: Codemasters)

With DIRT 5, Codemasters' time-honored racing game series returns to the arcade driving fun of parts two and three. Less realism, more fun? Our DIRT 5 review will show you whether this concept works.

Everyone loves to jump around in mud puddles - cartoon pig Peppa Wutz already knew that. It is even better to heat up at the wheel of a 1,000 HP off-road truck through rough terrain and marvel at the picturesque northern lights in icy Norway. In our DIRT 5 review, we'll find out what the new arcade racing game from Codemasters has to offer.

DIRT 5 Cranks Up the Fun

For over 20 years, Codemasters' off-road racing games have been at the forefront of the genre. After the tragic death of rally legend Colin McRae, the developers went a different way under the new name DIRT.

Away from ultra-realistic stage races, towards more arcade gaming fun. Especially DIRT 2 and 3 marked absolute exception titles at that time, which skillfully depicted almost every area of four-wheeled off-road racing and perfectly fitted into the youth culture of the 21st century with their brightly colored, stylish presentation.

In 2020, Codemasters is going two-track with the DIRT series: rally fans are turning to the outstanding, hard-as-nails simulation DiRT Rally 2.0, but those who simply want to drive fast and fun races with an off-road vehicle will be pleased with DIRT 5.

We duel in the mud in the fat offroad truck. DIRT 5 focuses on playful variety
In DIRT it gets muddy. And damn funny. (Image Credit: Codemasters)

How Muddy Is It?

To be frank, we really like this change of direction. Both are excellent racing games in themselves, which appeal to completely different target groups. Instead of presenting a suboptimal hybrid solution here, everyone knows what to expect in DiRT Rally 2.0 and DIRT 5.

Classical rally stages shine in DIRT 5 in any case by absence, this must be clear to you before you buy. Instead, eight varied vehicle categories await you here, where you can duel with other drivers on the track and not just change paint once. All this while you're racing over the snow-covered hills of Norway, the muddy forests of China, or the dusty tracks in Arizona.

We jump over a monster jump. In DIRT 5 the fun rules, simulation fans are out of place here
Okay: We still have to work on the design of our car, but at least the races are great. (Image Credit: Codemasters)

In DIRT 5 you fight against your opponents for every inch of the track, the physics and arcade controls guarantee fast-paced fun. The game succeeds in this perfectly since the shortest races last longer than five minutes, and you can comfortably throw yourself in front of the TV at home for an hour.

DIRT 5 is simply fun. No matter in which car, no matter in which category. The game is easy to learn, which is why even newcomers celebrate their first success within minutes. Something that you really can't say about the rally offshoots.

We race through Rio de Janeiro. DIRT 5 takes us around the globe in varied events.
Varied tracks and races: DIRT 5 is simply fun. (Image credit: Codemasters)

Around the World With DIRT 5

Codemasters added a story to the career mode of DIRT 5. It's not worth mentioning in principle, as always, the aim is to climb to the top of the ranking. In order to achieve this, we will be competing in all kinds of varied events.

In each event, a total of three stamps can be earned, with which we then unlock the next challenges. However, in order to be admitted to the finals, we have to collect a certain number of stamps. If we then win the final round, we move up to the next category.

This is very similar to the current GRID (also from Codemasters) and is really motivating because DIRT 5 almost always gives us the choice of different races. Not in the mood for the massive Trailblazers? Then let's just try an ice race.

The career mode of DIRT 5
In our branched career we often have the choice of two or three events. (Image credit: Codemasters)

In addition, we earn experience points and prize money in each event, which we invest in new bodies or designs. This motivates - in combination with the gameplay variety - to stay on the ball even after the 50th race.

The excellent track design of DIRT 5 captivates the player. Here the developers have once again outdone themselves. Especially when the courses change dynamically during the race. While we enjoy the last rays of sunshine in icy Norway, a storm is brewing during the race. Lightning flashes across the sky, the rain and the incipient darkness rob us almost completely of our vision in the final lap. We can hardly wait to see what the other courses in South Africa, Nepal, China or Greece have in store for us.

We race through Norway accompanied by northern lights. DIRT 5 offers breathtaking scenery
Many of the dynamic backdrops are partly breathtaking. (Image Credit: Codemasters)

Welcome to the Sandbox

Variety is a key feature of DIRT 5. Multiplayer fans are looking forward to the return of the split-screen mode on one console, while DIRT 5 provides several hours of gaming fun, especially in online mode.

We remember the great days of DIRT 2 when we spent hundreds of wonderful hours online with our friends. Precisely because the game simply provides simple fun and that's exactly what DIRT 5 is all about. In addition, there is the successful Playgrounds mode, which we were able to take a closer look at in a preview in August. In principle, this is a classic track editor, with the difference that we don't create classic tracks here.

Rather, we cobble together mobile puzzles with a few simple steps. Loopings, fire rings, and treasure hunts included. It's a nice bonus and the only limit is the creativity of the game's community.

The Technology of DIRT 5

From a technical point of view, DIRT 5 sits somewhat between the chairs as a cross-genre title. Graphically, the PS4 version we played makes a good impression, but (in 60 FPS mode) it suffers from tearing. The car models, effects, and off-track details look good, but the game doesn't even come close to a Forza Horizon 4.

There's little to complain about in the sound, which is convincing with powerful engine sounds and a strong soundtrack.

The graphics of DIRT 5 on PlayStation 4 are convincing, but we have seen better
DIRT 5 looks good, but does not always run completely clean. (Image credit: Codemasters)

DIRT 5: Our Verdict

Those who already liked the previous arcade offshoots of the series will love DIRT 5. No other modern racing game currently offers more varied off-road events and beginner-friendly racing action. We also welcome Codemasters' move to separate the game from the DIRT Rally simulation series. This way, everyone gets exactly what they want: realistic stage races on the one hand and the ultimate off-road playground on the other.

We had a lot of fun with DIRT 5. The off-road racing game captivates us for hours with its short, intense races and lets us sit behind the wheel for a few minutes every now and then.

If you are looking for a pure offroad arcade racer (a rarity these days), which is all about fun, DIRT 5 is the perfect choice. The big release of the title is coming soon. DiRT 5 will be released on November 6 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One and can be pre-ordered from €55.49 on Steam.

Read more about gaming and esports on EarlyGame. We tell you why rally fans should also take a closer look at WRC 9 and introduce you to the 10 best racing games ever.

Original article by EarlyGame's Philipp Briel.