Codemasters have a long and illustrious history with rally games, some of the most famous of them having been made on the Colin McRae license. Colin McRae Rally 2.0 is a fond memory from the early 2000s. British developer never lost the step, and the DiRT line has accumulated six entries since 2007. What awaits us in the seventh? Well, let’s take a look, because there are some interesting things.
One of the criticisms against DiRT Rally was the fact that it was pretty inaccessible to people without prior rally games experience. The very limited, non-interactive tutorial hardly helped. DiRT 4 aims to change it on two fronts.
One of the step taken to ease newcomers to the game will be the DiRT Academy. It will effectively be an interactive tutorial mode, meant to show the ropes of driving and management involved in playing the game. Hopefully it will give a very detailed training about understanding what your co-pilot is saying and adjusting your actions accordingly, because this time around you won’t be able to learn stages by heart.
Two difficulty modes
To further help newbies without removing the hardcore experience veterans expect, DiRT 4 will have two difficulties: Gamer and Simulation. The former will be significantly more forgiving than Simulation, although that’s not to say it’s going to be easy. Just streamlined and simplified enough to provide a smooth entry experience without having to crash into a nearby tree because of a small mistake.
Gamer difficulty may also be fine for players who got tired of increased difficulty and some less demanding fun.
Rally games have a problem, and that’s having a finite number of stages. It runs counter to the idea that a rally driver does a thousand corners one time, not one corner a thousand times like a track driver. Codemasters found a solution to this, and the description involves a very popular recently word “procedurally”.
Your Stage maybe one of the best things to happen to rally games in the past decade. Its core uses to variables: Length and Complexity, to determine the layout of the track, before applying modifiers like region (of several to be available at launch), weather conditions, and possibly others.
The stages will be generated procedurally (ta-da!), which means that there is good chance you will never see the same track twice, unless you specifically decide to. You’ll be able to share stages with others, even to combine several into a rally event of your own creation.
DiRT 4 Your Stage might be the best way of extending a racing game’s longevity to come our way since people figured out that we can mod PC games. How it will work remains to be seen, but it’s very promising.
How and where
DiRT 4 at release will feature several locations for each of its three types of events.
The fans of traditional Rally will race in Wales, Sweden, Australia, Spain and the United States. Specifically: Powys, Värmland, Fitzroy, Tarragona, and Michigan, respectively.
LandRush events will take place in California, Nevada, and Mexico, and will, of course, feature powerful buggies and stadium trucks.
Finally the RallyCross mode will take the players to Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, and France.
There will be no shortage of location to race through, especially since Your Stage system will manage all of them for the Rally events.
The final stretch
DiRT 4 looks very promising, overall. The Your Stage system has incredible potential, and we can only hope that other developers decide to try and make their own versions of it. Finding a way to appeal both to hardcore rally games fans and newcomers without compromising for either is laudable as well.
What DiRT 4 will finally be like when it launches on June 9 this year? It, of course, remains to be seen, but Codemasters seem to have a well-defined and informed vision for it.
Are you going to be Gamer, or is Simulation the only way to go for you?