Cover Image Source: Twitter @dirtgame
The DiRT series is decade-old this year (where did all the time go?). Having started as a continuation of the Colin McRae license of which Codemasters have made a very good use, it evolved into its own thing. Sort of.
They are still rally games definitely not for fans of arcade driving and flashy paintjobs, they use real locations. They just don't come bearing the Colin McRae name on them. But that's not even a real problem.
So, with DiRT 4 just around a corner (heh), what should expect from Codemasters' new production?
The biggest addition to the new DiRT 4, and one if likely to make a big splash when other racing game developers fully catch wind of its possibilities, is Your Stage. Short version: Your Stage is the source of unique, procedurally generated tracks.
During the production of DiRT4 Codemasters had two connected things to work though. One was the problem of licensing the existing, privately owned locations. The other was the fact, that it's not really a rally game when the player can just learn a track by heart. It's been said that a rally driver does a thousand corners once, not one corner a thousand times. Having a finite set of tracks doesn't really work with this idea.
To get around it, Codemasters developed a system allowing the game and the player to generate unique tracks based on several factors, the most important of them being Length and Complexity, both of which you'll get to adjust with handy sliders. The Career mode will probably do it for you, though. Since of all of it procedurally generated, the potential number of stages is big enough to come across as infinite.
To make things even better, if you liked a stage you'll be able to easily share it with others, or to combine several interesting tracks into a full rally event, if you find yourself wanting for more after the Career mode.
All in all, Your Stage may well make DiRT 4 into a small revolution for the racing games in general and rally games in particular. Only time will tell.
Accessible and hardcore
Previous DiRTs had a reputation of being sort of off-putting to newcomers to the genre, with DiRT Rally being one of the worst offenders. To combat this, DiRT 4 will feature two things that will ease new players into the gameplay.
One will be a "Gamer" difficulty setting (as opposed to realistic Simulation), which will automate some of the more complicated stuff and make the game less punishing. It will certainly be a less stressful and demanding way to enjoy Codemasters' new production, and maybe even hardcore rally games fans will find it in themselves to enjoy it once in a while.
The other addition is the DiRT Academy, a full blown tutorial mode. While previous entries may have went cheap on tutorials, Academy means to atone for the sins of the forefathers. It will be interactive, comprehensive and actually informative to the player. A perfect way to get into that "rally" thing people talk about.
The modes and locations
DiRT 4 will include three core race types, all of which will also find their way into the Careeer mode.
The first one is the traditional Rally, no surprises there. We will get to drive in Tarragona (Spain), Fitzroy (Australia), Värmland (Sweden), Powys (Wales) and Michigan (USA). Your Stage will make sure you'll never encounter the same challenge twice there... unless you specifically choose to, probably.
Then we get Landrush, which boosts your engine to ridiculous levels, switches your car's body for a buggy and lets you loose. They will be harder to control, but at the same time give a nice sense of power. The stages will be located in California, Nevada, and Mexico.
Finally there's the RallyCross, which will feature five circuits: Pista Automóvel de Montalegre (Portugal), Höljesbanan (Sweden), Circuit de Lohéac (France), Lånkebanen (Norway), and Lydden Hill Race Circuit (Great Britain). You will have access to rallycross Supercars, so don't worry.
Source: Twitter @dirtgame
The final word
DiRT 4 may be the best thing to happen to the franchise. Virtually infinite longevity, excellent visuals (cars looks amazing), and a way to appeal to both newcomers and the veterans all make DiRT 4 very promising. Codemasters' years of experience are certainly going to shine through.
DiRT 4 launches on June 9 this year. Are you ready to trust your co-driver on an unfamiliar stage?
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