If you are looking for a high-adrenaline, off-road experience, Dirt 5 offers some great white-knuckle racing. The game launches alongside both current and next-gen consoles, so you’ll be able to capture the checkered flag across the PlayStation and Xbox platforms. The series returns with multi-surface tracks, a variety of gorgeous settings and graphics that will really show off what your brand-new PlayStation 5 and/or Xbox Series X can do.
This instalment of the long running franchise doubles down on arcade racing with a fun main career and a handful of modes to test your mettle. Dirt 5 is a solid, “in your face” racer that will quench your need for off-road speed. Let’s buckle up and hit the backroads to explore all the game has to offer.
Dirt 5 Review Details
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One,
Xbox Series X + S
Developer: Codemasters Cheshire
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating : E for Everyone
Race to the top of the world
The career mode in DIRT 5 is the crown jewel of the entire experience. It offers plenty of vehicle and racing variety, with a quirky, narrative driven story. What makes the DIRT experience so different is the fact each race feels unique from the last with a variety of terrain and autos. You even get a choice in later stages of the game with forking paths that allow you to tackle all, or fewer styles of races.
The main crux of your journey has you competing against a rival driver named Bruno Durand. The story unfolds through a series of audio clips with some legendary VO actors. Durand is voiced by Nolan North (Uncharted, Destiny 2) as you battle your way through a series of championships. You also have a mentor in your corner, Alex “AJ” Janiček who is portrayed by Troy Baker (The Last of Us, Bioshock). AJ gives you helpful pointers as you move through your career path.
There aren’t any cutscenes, so you’ll need to use your imagination to build up the face-to-face drama. It’s a little disappointing considering the talented voice actors involved in the production. Overall, I did listen to all of the clips as the colour commentary was great and kept me coming back for more.
DIRT 5’s multiplayer showdowns
The online multiplayer has a lot of variety and the inclusion of cross-gen racing is a major plus. That’s right, you’ll be able to go head-to-head with players on current and next-gen consoles, so there are fewer barriers to racing with friends. Using the Xbox Series X, I was able to seamlessly connect to friends on the Xbox One. The Party Modes are back with Vampire, Transporter and King. Let’s breakdown what each has to offer:
Vampire is essentially a game of tag in cars (what’s not to love about that?) where bumping each opponent brings them onto your team. The main objective is to avoid all the tagged vampires until the clock runs down and the sun rises. I have to admit I clocked a fair share of time here, the thrill of being the last driver standing is wild!
Channel your inner Jason Statham and become the ultimate Transporter. In this mode you need to transfer cargo from point A to B while fending off 11 other drivers. Holding onto the items for longer will also net you more points, so you need to decide if you should directly drop-off or stall for a bigger pay-off. The decision is yours, but it adds to the overall thrill of the chase.
In King mode, you need to grab a crown and head for the hills! Two crowns are placed in the arena and you need to pick up or steal them from other drivers. Hold onto the crown the longest and clock-in the greatest number of points and you’ll be crowned the winner.
Online off-road racing
Online mode also offers more traditional racing akin to the single player mode. You’ll be able to race against human opponents on the 10 locations found throughout the story mode. Developer Codemasters has also promised to continue to curate and support the online experience. With the recent release of the free “Snow Limits” content pack the future is looking bright for DIRT 5 continued support.
New DIRT 5 frontiers in Playgrounds
This year DIRT introduces a stunt track editor mode called Playgrounds where you can design, share, browse and play on community-built tracks. These user-created arenas are a lot of fun to explore and experiment with. Users have created some incredible tracks from homages to Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road to more technical courses that really test your skills. You can create Playgrounds for 3 styles of events: Gate Crasher, Gymkhana and Smash Attack. The tools and objects at your disposal are pretty wild from jump ramps to flaming hoops.
The first thing you’ll notice on next-gen consoles are the incredible graphics, this game is gorgeous. Vehicles glimmer in the sunlight and reflect their surrounding with near photorealistic visuals. As you race, mud and other debris cake onto your vehicle accumulating lap after lap. You really feel immersed in the environment as it has such a big visual impact on your vehicle. Mud, snow and ice fly at your screen at blistering speeds as you battle for the podium. It makes the racing experience all the more visceral and satisfying with so much eye candy.
DIRT 5’s next gen graphical options
On the PS5 and the Series X you can also tweak the performance of the game depending on your television set. The game can hit 120fps on both consoles, but you’ll need a TV that is capable of handling that amount of fps. You’ll get a choice between quality and performance modes on next-gen consoles. Quality ups the textures and detail by sacrificing fps where performance ups fps by reducing environment details.
Racing rain, shine or snow
The weather effects in combination with a full day-to-night cycle are also a marvel to behold. Tracks take on a whole new form depending on the time of day and the weather conditions. At times the framerate does take a bit of hit within a large group of racers, if you manage to push free of the pack the game really shines.
This is especially apparent in DIRT 5’s photo mode which offers plenty of options to capture some truly gorgeous shots. I often found myself stopping midrace for a few pictures, the action and scenery simply demand it.
The sounds of motorsport
Audio is a big part of the racing experience and DIRT 5 delivers in a big way. Firstly, the sound for all the vehicles is extremely accurate compared to their real-life counterparts. The car audio on different surfaces is also executed extremely well. You can hear the difference between gravel, snow and mud as your rip around the course.
Second, is the fully licenced soundtrack with 40 chart topping songs from multiple genres. Just like the wide selection of vehicles, there is a wide variety of tracks. From iconic rock groups like The Killers and club legends like The Chemical Brothers there is a sound for just about everyone. The cars, environments and music tracks meld into a bold, unique sounding experience.
Final thoughts on DIRT 5
DIRT 5 is an incredibly fun off-road arcade racing experience that is one of the best racers of 2020. The presentation, graphics and style make DIRT 5 accessible to a broader audience, not just hardcore racing fans. The series had made a significant U-turn from simulation racing, but still offers a challenge for those looking for one. DIRT’s excellent gameplay and evolving set of challenges keep the formula fresh race after race. That being said certain modes like Sprint Racing are very out of place and Career mode could use a little more depth. All that aside the multiple modes and cars make an incredible racing experience, I highly recommend DIRT 5.
+ Excellent gameplay with tight controls
+ Graphics and tracks look great
+ Incredible handling over a wide variety of vehicles
– No cutscenes, or character models in story mode
– Sprint car racing is out of place
– Career mode needs more depth
OVERALL ASSESSEMENT OF DIRT 5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.25/5 (85%)