Dirt Rally Announced And In Early Access Right Now

Oh! This is unexpected. Codemasters have just announced Dirt Rally [Steam page] and the news comes with the unusual detail that the game is also out already via Steam Early Access. Although it’s got the Dirt name, Rally tosses out all the screeching gymkhana flash in favour of focusing on muddy roads, too-close trees and the feeling of your backwheels lurching perilously out of control. Trundle below for a launch trailer and some further details.

The dirty, dirty Dirt game costs £25 (10% off for launch week) and includes 14 cars and three rally locations: Powys in Wales, Monte Carlo in Monaco, and Argolis in Greece. That sounds like a fine starting point to me. Development so far has apparently focused on the game’s physics system, which means that though it has careful simulation of different types of road surface – important for this kind of game, obviously – it may not yet or ever have the razzledazzle interface and thousands of game modes that normally come with a modern racing game. Currently the plan is for the Early Access to run til the end of 2015 when the game will release in full with a higher price.

PCGamesN have more detail on the game and its creation. For example, that Codemasters are planning on running tournaments throughout the Early Access process to try to inspire a competitive community, and that the game was made by a small team while everyone else was focused on Grid Autosport.

The streamlined goals of Dirt Rally all sound appealing to me. Most of my favourite racing games were those that tossed off the shackles of closed circuit racing in favour of off-road rallying; games that were about trundling carefully across muddy islands and snowy wastes. In terms of the enjoyment I gained from them, they were wheel-attached predecessors to walking and survival simulators. I also just re-connected my steering wheel to my PC for a weekend of driving around muddy roads in crash-physics simulator BeamNG.drive, so Dirt Rally arrives at the perfect time.

And blimey, isn’t it nice to have a game from a big publisher that you can play the moment you hear of it, instead of years after. Kudos to Codies for experimenting in this way.


  1. v1tr1ol says:

    Is…is this dream? hope they don’t fuck it up. after hours and hours of last WRC on my momo, I crave for new >real< rally game, not that gymkhana piece of shit.

    • riverman says:

      wait a second, I’ve never played these WRC games because I just gave up on anything being anyhere close to as good as RBR. all I really care about is physics, and the physics of rally games are so arcady I don’t understand how anyone can enjoy them, are you telling me I could be enjoying fancy new rally games?

      • riverman says:

        well never mind, I just watched a gameplay video of WRC4 that makes GTA look less arcadey

  2. Gothnak says:

    I was marshalling on the Somerset Stages Rally a couple of weeks ago and was thinking that i haven’t played a decent Rally game in ages.

    I really used to enjoy those ones in the past when you took realistic damage and had X minutes in the Garage between stages and had to decide what was more important to fix. And no rewind power, so you just tried to drive on the edge, but not over it.

    Oh, and races of 100 simulated cars who you never see but are always racing against, rather than seemingly only racing 8 other cars who are all on the stage with you about 10 seconds apart :s…

    Tbh, Rallying is the perfect asynchronous racing style, should be done like Tiger Woods, so that when you race, you are constantly told where you are vs everyone else who has taken the event and the event can be a single stage or maybe a 10 stage rally where just getting safely around each stage without crashing heavily leaves you in the top 10%.

  3. Kyber92 says:

    Did anybody else see the Reddit thing at the end of the trailer? Does that mean there is an official subreddit? I’ve never seen that kind of thing before. Also I couldn’t find a DiRT Rally subreddit, so maybe not yet.

  4. Diziet Sma says:

    I agree with Gothnak but it’s really good to see Dirt jettison those modern bits like Showdown and Gymkhana for an outing. I’d like to see all the inter-race balancing of time vs. repairs back again too.

  5. rcguitarist says:

    The last 2 WRC games looked better than this. This game looks cartoony and way too arcade-like. I just don’t see what would make someone buy this game if they already have WRC 3 or 4. Besides, Codemasters does not support their games after launch. My key code for one of the previous Dirt games that I bought a physical copy of stopped working 2 months after I bought it due to an error in Codemaster’s DRM…you know what Codemasters support said to me??? “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do”.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Oh I don’t think I’d agree with that. The other DiRT games, sure. They were very arcadey looking and stylised. I didn’t love the way they played either.

      However, on a purely visual level, this looks a lot more grounded. Granted there’s alot to go on so far….

    • piphil says:

      I think the “cartoony” look may be down to the cars models being a bit too “shiny”, not quite sure how to describe it. The cars look from the external views not quite part of the same scene, like they’ve been copy/pasted in.

      However, inside the cars when driving, the stages look very good. The graphics overall aren’t very flashy, but there are some nice touches, like the water that rushes up the windscreen when you go through a ford/river.

      I suspect if you sat and stared at each individual model and tree (some of the models of the start line crew look texture wise like they’ve been lifted straight from Richard Burns Rally…) you’d conclude the graphics are awful. But when you’re wrestling a car through a stage at speed, it’s pretty impressive, and runs smoothly on my i3/660Ti rig.

  6. The First Door says:

    I have a very patchy history with Codemaster games recently, so I really wish there was a way you could try the handling model first. Still, it’s very, very, nice to see that they are actually doing internal views properly this time around. Grid 2 and Autosport did take the mick rather.

    I’m a bit worried about it not having rewind, though… I quite like the ability to undo a couple of mistakes, especially when there are so many trees about…

    • Gothnak says:

      That’s the whole point, you need to drive a bit slower! Risk vs reward rather than risk vs rewind.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah, tried one of the other Dirt demos once, felt far too floaty, didn’t like it.

  7. inf says:

    This will have the usual in-depth, realistic and challenging handling from Codemasters.


  8. SlimShanks says:

    Wow, they decided to make a Dirt game with rally racing in it? What a concept. Colin Mcrae would be so proud. And they say they are going to work on the physics? But whatever for? The Dirt series already perfectly captures the feel of rallying a hovercar. Wait, it’s about cars, you say? Are you sure?
    In all honesty though, we can’t have enough rally games, so I will pray for their success. I mean, it’s not like Codemasters don’t know anything about car physics, and it’s not like their engine can’t handle it, they just dumbed down the Dirt series to sell more copies. But there isn’t any reason they can’t pull this off.

  9. Synesthesia says:

    Those long shots are fucking gorgeous, and what i’ve always wanted from driving games. Draw distance! Proper scenery coming towards you, not pretty skyboxes! If we can put that on ETS, i’m golden.

    • Synesthesia says:

      (please, please, don’t have those obnoxious narrators.)

  10. piphil says:

    I’ve been waiting for someone to basically re-release Richard Burns Rally with better graphics. The normal Codemasters “rally” output is far too arcady for my tastes. Ken Block is overrated.

    I’ve played Dirt Rally for 30-60 minutes, and I think my wish has been granted.

    Now, IANARD (I am not a racing driver), but this feels *right*, in the same way RBR felt right. You can’t just drive flat out. The stages feel claustrophobic in comparison with most rally arcade type games. The selection of cars (which you appear to have to unlock via a career mode, but are all available in the “Custom Event” mode) is interesting, and your driving style has to change between different surfaces, cars and stages. The graphics aren’t spectacular but I quickly found myself lost in the experience of inexpertly manhandling a Fiesta WRX through the damp Welsh countryside.

    I’m very excited to see where the game goes. They seem to have made a good start by concentrating on the driving experience. The damage model seems basic at the moment (rolling the Subaru seemed to do very little), and the menus need mouse support. However, I see myself spending a lot of time on this game, even in this early beta form.

    Well, at least until Project Cars comes out…

    • piphil says:

      Oh, and a random note: I’m very impressed initially with the pace notes. Quite detailed compared to many rally games, and very few mistakes. I mean, I have come across a hairpin that wasn’t mentioned, which was a little awkward, but otherwise I’m very impressed.

      Also, I’m playing with a Thrustmaster F430 FFB wheel, which works well (although the preset for the wheel was rather stiff for my liking). I’m not sure how it works with a game pad, but I suspect a wheel is needed to get the best out of the handling model.

    • Henke says:

      That is high praise! I’ve been looking forward to a new RBR as well so this suddenly has me very excited. :)

  11. Creeping Death says:

    ” Although it’s got the Dirt name, Rally tosses out all the screeching gymkhana flash in favour of focusing on muddy roads, too-close trees and the feeling of your backwheels lurching perilously out of control.”

    So it’s Dirt (the first one) then? Wonderful!

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      This game is nothing like Dirt 1. It a hell of a lot more sim-like, with realistic handling and physics. It’s more akin to Richard Burns Rally. Which imo is fucking amazeballs.

  12. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    I find it hilariously ironic that Codemasters decided to release this into early access to get a feel for what the fans want, and got the game SO FUCKING RIGHT.

    This is finally the game that will replace RBR for me. Game of the year, nay decade, nay EVER MADE.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      It’s comparable to RBR? I have to say my interest is piqued.

      • piphil says:

        +1 to RBR comparible. RBR HD maybe? Similar sense of having to drive within yourself, tight stages. I’m getting a lot of flashbacks, de ja vu even.

        The only trouble with the de ja vu is I keep reaching for the sequential shifter stick of my old MOMO Logitech wheel, which I had set up as the handbrake. Unfortunately my MOMO has gone the way of the DODO, and I can’t quite get used to having to push a button on my F340. Thus me screwing up most of the hairpins in my video below…

      • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

        It is indeed comparable. The damage model isn’t quite as advanced yet, but if you get on the forums there is a feedback thread, and the devs seem to be listening.

  13. kevmscotland says:

    As someone thats bought this I can most definitely say its not like the other DIRT games.

    This is a massive step towards being a more authentic simulation rather than an arcade funfest. Its still a little too forgiving but key features:

    Longer stages.
    Car setup.
    Damage Model.
    70’s – present rally cars.
    Good FFB.
    No Ken Block!!

    A good surprise from CM here.

    • piphil says:

      Dammit, I swear I closed that tag…

    • drewski says:

      Is there a reason you have the wipers on? :D

      Looks great. Haven’t played a rally game since Colin McRae 2.0 but that looks proper.

      • piphil says:

        I’ve no idea why the wipers are on at random points, they seem to be automatic? Obviously they’re needed after the water splashes but I didn’t activate them even for that. :-P

  14. Solrax says:

    Thanks for posting that – man it was exhausting just to watch!

    That looks like the kind of Rally game I’ve been waiting for…

  15. Deepo says:

    And blimey, isn’t it nice to have a game from a big publisher that you can play the moment you hear of it, instead of years after. Kudos to Codies for experimenting in this way.

    This! More of this please!

  16. ChromeBallz says:

    In response to some posts above – The game really doesn’t look cartoony in action. The cars are only shiny at the start, after you’ve driven a few 100 meters they’re all dirty :)

    The driving is VERY challenging (used to stay a few seconds ahead at the highest difficultes in previous games, now i’m struggling to stay within 30s of the leader at lower ones), the roads are realistically narrow (not the 12-lane superhighways from previous ‘rally’ games), so i’m rather happy with this.

    The only thing they could still do is give us Rally Championship 2000 – length stages (Pundershaw! 45 minutes back in the day…) and i’ll be really damn overjoyed. Or something.

    As it is, the 3 locales have 12 stages each, which isn’t too shabby :)

  17. Morcane says:

    Bought. It’s so amazingly good already.

  18. JustAchaP says:

    Hopefully I won’t get as bored of this as I did with Dirt 2 & 3

  19. CherryPhosphate says:

    mmm this has scratched the itch I’ve had since CMcrae2 …

  20. Jaykera says:

    I swore I wouldn’t buy early access anymore. Thank god I’m weak !

    What a blast. I’m about to go buy a steering wheel right away.

  21. Continuity says:

    I think this will be worth coming back to in 6 months, maybe a year. At the moment the FFB is rubbish which is essential for a racing sim of any sort, if they get the FFB right then this will be THE rally game to play.