On 26 September 2018, I sat down with Codemasters and tried my hand at their upcoming racing simulator, DiRT Rally 2.0.
A follow-up to the much-loved DiRT Rally, DiRT 2.0 already looks to be a fantastic addition to the Colin McRae franchise. Despite a pre-alpha build being shown off at the event, certain aspects of the game are already fairly impressive. First and foremost, this is a racing sim for those who really want the genuine rally car experience. It is being made in partnership with professional racers who know the cars they are simulating.
When a car doesn’t feel right, the devs told me, the racers will let them know and any changes that had been made got reverted. An authentic experience is very much what Codemasters is going for here. There are two things here that are being added to DR2 that are really going to help achieve this: camber and degradation. Track degradation means that if you are one of the last cars around a track in any given event, the road will he physically degraded compared to those who drove before you — as you would expect in real life when driving on dirt. This will naturally affect the camber of the road, meaning that if you drive 1st, the road will feel different to if you drive 10th, and you will need to plan for this when playing out a level – the physical shape of the road will not be the same between the two scenarios.
There was a lot of talk about how excited the devs are to be adding Argentina to the game, but what caught my eye was the omission of two things: an arcade mode and a tutorial. The lack of an arcade mode is fine – that’s just something to be aware of before buying into the game. However, the lack of a tutorial is what concerns me most. This is not an easy game. The previous iteration was notoriously punishing, too. In DiRT Rally 2.0, if you smash your car to pieces, you’re going to have a harder time driving it. As a realistic sim, this is to be expected, but it will hinder your progress if you are new to racing sims.
As much as I can already hear the cries of “get good n00b”, and as much as the devs promised you can get good just by practising in the game, I have strong suspicions that this is not an entry-level game. It’s one for those who are already invested, can tell a Polo from a Golf, and they like the punishing difficulty the last Rally game is known for. As this is the first look at a pre-alpha game, however, I cannot and will not judge the game too much just yet – instead, I will say that if racing sims are in your wheelhouse, you ought to be excited. If they are not, perhaps let this one pass you by if the training wheels aren’t added soon.
DiRT Rally 2.0 is due to release on February 22, 2019 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
*This preview is based on our time with the game at a hands-on event in London.