Dirt 4 first footage – the arcade/sim sweet spot returns?

I’ve usually had a lot of time for Codies’ racing games, despite only being a car person to the extent that I can replace the fuse for the cigarette lighter if push comes to shove. They tend to comfortably straddle the line between the cheerful anti-physics of arcade driving games and the stony-faced realism of the sim crowd, which is the sweet spot where I can convince myself that ‘yes, I am incredible race driver man!’

Dirt 4 [official site] sounds as though it’s a game consciously in search of that sweet spot, with Codies having previously talked of fusing Dirt Rally’s “realism” with the rather poppier Dirt 2 and 3’s “fun”. In trailer terms, that means spraying mud, near-misses and possibly inappropriate use of the word “banging” for its soundtrack.

This purports to be ‘gameplay’ footage, but though it seems to be more or less in-engine, I suspect calling it “gameplay” is likely calling Grand Tour scenes “unscripted improvisation”.

Only eternal automobilic lord and master Angela Rippon could say whether or not this is suitably representative of the real experience, but it’s an appealing torrent of car-frenzy nontheless. Dirt 4’s big draw, by the way, is procedurally-generated tracks. No doubt quite a tall order in practice, but in concept I’m definitely down for a racing game in which you have to react rather than rote-learn. Though fixed tracks will be there too, plus we get the return of buggies and trucks.

Oh, and promised for the soundtrack are 40 licensed tracks from the likes of “The Amazons, Sigma, Freak and Pretty Vicious alongside tracks from The Chemical Brothers, Disclosure, Queens Of The Stone Age and Bastille.” Banging? God, don’t ask me, I only listen to ambient noodling these days.

40 Comments

  1. ColonelFlanders says:

    It’s like they took everything that made Dirt Rally such a refreshing change and fucked it all off. Very disappointed in how this looks, with the possibly exciting exception of the proc-gen tracks.

    Please Codemasters, don’t Ken Block-ify your games again! I don’t know if I can handle another fucking Gymkhana battle for as long as I live.

    • vorador says:

      The Gymkhana events where the reason i dropped Dirt 3. Too bad, since the rest of the game was decent.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Yeah, this looks pretty shit. Guess we’ll always have dirt 3.

      Isn’t route learning (well, not learning, more like studying the track) an actual thing in rally? What would there be to win with procedural tracks? It’s not like you can improvise a scandinavian flick without some practice. We are not Sebastian Loeb.

      • haradaya says:

        In most rallies they get to recon the stage yes. But there’s a big difference in running a stage a few times before competing, and having driven the stage 30 times as would be the case with most fans of DiRT Rally. Pacenotes barely matter anymore at that point, and players will know exactly when to slow down and flatout.

        It seems more true to rallying to have randomized stages, as it levels the playing field for everyone. If they pull it off that is.

      • MikoSquiz says:

        There’s types of rallying that don’t give you a map or let you recon. Seat of pants, nothing but. I believe they tend to be low-budget affairs, though, which kind of makes sense. You don’t want to risk rolling a $400k race-tuned Focus or what have you.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Proc gen has no place in a racing game tho – the track is an intrinsic part of racing, and knowing every inch of it. Not to mention how difficult it would be to proc gen a route or track that would be fun to race on – it’s hard enough to design good tracks by hand.

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        1) This isn’t racing, It’s rally.

        2) The whole reason they introduced thos feature is obviously because rally stages undergo constant changes due to the fact that they are normal roads, which fall into disrepair, or houses/walls get built etc. At this point it would be nice to be able to reccy new stages 2 or 3 times and try and work from the pacenotes like real rally drivers do, instead of using shakedown time to do a million tries so you can do it with your eyes closed. There’s no fun in being on the edge of control if you memorized the whole thing.

        • SBLux says:

          It absoloutely is racing. The proper title for the sport is literally Rally Racing.

      • USER47 says:

        Knowing every inch of the track is in no way a part of the rally. This is not circuit racing.

      • caerphoto says:

        The stages aren’t 100% procedurally generated, if my understanding is correct. Instead each location has a fixed set of roads and the stages are generated by making routes along those roads. You get a lot of variety in stages, but eventually you’ll learn each road section I guess.

    • TheSplund says:

      Whilst I ‘approve’ of some of those bands, I always turn the music off in any racing game as it totally ruins it. Yeah, I also agree with the Ken Block comment (Colin M would be spinning in his grave)

      • USER47 says:

        I am pretty sure McRae used to be a friend with Ken Block.

        • ColonelFlanders says:

          I have no doubt that Ken Block is in fact a Decent Bloke ™, but I really don’t think the ‘whoooaa, tubular maaann’ vernacular and Michael Bay style confetti explosions is really in the spirit of the Colin McRae games, or indeed Rally in general.

    • DUFFKING says:

      You could have made this exact trailer using footage from Dirt Rally, minus the buggies. It’s literally just a bunch of Rally and Rallicross footage, both of which were in Dirt Rally.

      It’s a billion miles from the Ken Block rubbish you’re on about. Did you even watch the trailer?

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        so the millions of jumpcuts, crashes, ramming and shouty music weren’t enough to hav e you worried? Glad you have so much confidence. Anyway if you look in the comments below you’ll see that i’m pleased that this appears not to be the case, since’s there’s an arcade mode, and a ‘proper’ mode.

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          Grizzly says:

          Dirt Rally has a very similar trailer, minus the landrush:

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            The similarities are in the music, and that’s about it. One trailer says ‘this is rally’, meanwhile the other says ‘OMG THIS IS RALLY, LOOK CRASHES WHOOOA EXTREEEME’.

    • maxcolby says:

      If they would just make more rallies(full events and stages) for Dirt, we would all be happy.

      I remember playing a few games in the past that had so many events/stages for a “season” that you didn’t really memorize the stages as you’ve driven about 40 others since the last time you drove it.

  2. Avus says:

    As long as there will be Dirt Rally 2, I don’t mind they make Dirt 4,5,6…. in between.

    • USER47 says:

      But there won’t be any DiRT Rally 2. You are stuck with this thing.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        Says who? It’s hardly like it needs a sequel yet – and surely the only demand is content which could be satisfied with DLC.

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        Grizzly says:

        There will be a Dirt Rally 2. It also happens to be called Dirt 4.

        Codies are including both an Dirt 3-style arcade mode and a Dirt Rally style simulation mode in this, with the simulation mode being more realistic then Dirt Rally (from people who’ve played it in preview sections, stopping the car has been given special treatment, as engine braking was too easy in Dirt Rally).

        Also it has procedurally generated stages! What’s more to like?

        You can have a gander over at their website:
        link to dirt4game.com

        Racedepartment has some usefull info on this as well. For example, the landrush mode gets the same simulation treatment:
        link to racedepartment.com

        • ColonelFlanders says:

          Wow thanks for this info Grizzly. I thought that the ‘fusion’ they were referring to was by watering down Dirt Rally by arcading it up. Knowing that there will be two distinct modes makes this a 100% buy for me.

        • TechnoJellyfish says:

          You think they’ll be able to improve and expand upon Dirt Rally while delivering a full-blown sequel to Dirt 3 at the same time? Basically giving us a sequel to each in one single package?

          Maybe I’m a hopeless sceptic, but that sounds like a tremendous task and I just don’t see this happening. The trailer doesn’t inspire much confidence, to say the least.

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            Grizzly says:

            Dirt the Third and the Dirty Rally don’t fundementally do different things: They are all about driving cars quickly on dirt. They can all share assets, the only thing that is truly different is the way the cars drive, and you can change that in any race sim already by turning all the assists on (which is what I suspect “gamer mode” will actually be: The assists are turned on by default – Project Cars does something very similar).

            They’ve also been developing Dirt 4 since Dirt 3, Dirt Rally was mainly an experiment conducted by a rallying enthusiast within the codemasters team (who is your co driver in game) that was recieved far better then they expected.

            In general codies seem to be much more enthusiastic about the intrincensies of motorsport rather then the “awesome factor”. Others tell me that a similar trend is happening in the F1 games.

        • USER47 says:

          Handling is one thing, the tracks are another one. Compare the stages in Dirt 3 and DiRT Rally, the most important part of a simulation nature of DR are real life stages with lots of tricky narrow segments and unforgiving sides of the road. Since DiRT 4 will have to somehow sattisfy both fans of DiRT 3 with its highway-wide stages and fans of DiRT Rally with more realistic technical stages, I am pretty sure they will come up with some compromise which can result in very few people being happy with it.

          Also, it will be very hard to replicate the natural feeling of real life environment with that random generation. The stages in DR were very nice and easy to read, because they made logical sense in the environment. I have no clue how that generator can do anything else than unpredictable sequence of turns so common in other rally games with fictional stages.

      • TheSplund says:

        Happy playing Dirt Rally

  3. TechnoJellyfish says:

    They already hit the sweet spot with Dirt Rally, if you ask me. It’s all downhill from here on out …

    • babymoses says:

      I disagree. I’ve played through the Dirt 1 and 2 on highest difficulty, but Dirt Rally has way too many adjustment sliders and the ground feels like it were made from solid steel with sand put on top. Maybe it’s because I play with a Gamepad, but I couldn’t warm up to it.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        Well 1 and 2 are arcade games, whatever difficulty they’re set at, rally is a sim. It’s harder because rally driving is hard.

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    XJ220 says:

    I sincerely hope the rallying portion of this is going to be as great as DiRT Rally. And accessible without having to complete all the other disciplines.

    Watched some other videos, and not everything about the new game is bad. They have got many more authentic liveries (minus alcohol-/tobacco-related logos), they added the Opel Ascona and the Sport quattro is now an S1 E2! If they nail its sound, it’s gonna be awesome on its own. Luckily, in DiRT Rally both Audis had pretty accurate sounds, much better than what both Group B Lancias got…

    So there is hope. Don’t think I’ll pay the full price, though, because I’ll have to buy much more than I want…

  5. tslog says:

    For a “gameplay” trailer, it was completely worthless.

    The video cuts were so short that you couldn’t read into anything about it – not how it looks to take corners, not how it looks to handle the cars, not what the AI might be doing….some track designand so much more.

    A video designed for for nothing at all except to possible relieve 1 minute of temporary boredom.

    And Rally was bad. Boring diffiCULTy tension above all else.

  6. Foosnark says:

    I hate overly arcadey racers, unless they’re all-out sci-fi Wipeout style stuff.

    Dirt Rally felt really good to me for the most part. I wouldn’t mind something slightly more accessible and forgiving, but the last thing I want is something where you can keep the accelerator floored around every corner.

  7. Mr Bismarck says:

    Now if we could just get them to support/fix Racenet on their existing Rally game…

  8. Snargelfargen says:

    What happened to Dirt 3? I waited ages for a package including the dlc, but now it appears to have disappeared altogether from steam and gamersgate.

  9. dashausdiefrau says:

    I will buy the game if only:
    – No stupid flashy menus, and no stupid festivals or what so.
    – No stupid locked content behind campaign. I unlocked hundreds of cars in slowly 3 decades of gaming in the same boring campaign modes racing game by racing game, and enough is enough, I want all cars and stages available immediately.
    – No stupid in game advertisement for the DLCs. I am glad to buy all DLCs, but there is nothing more infuriating than seeing that some content is not available because I haven’t paid for it.

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    goodpoints says:

    The only things that Dirt Rally really needed was more courses. I really hope they can combine and improve the simulation-approach of Rally with gamepad-friendly assists without going too far the way of Block.

    Though, if I had it my way, it would only cover the 60s-80s with wider car selection. Swinging the magnificent Renault Alpine around those Greek cliffs, listening to that delicious crackle of gravel hitting the body, is one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in a driving game.

    • maxcolby says:

      Seriously.
      I’ve played so many good for their time rally games in the past that had double the events/stages.
      Even the early Colin McRaes… V Rally3, etc.
      I read about one from the ninties that the events had a realistic amount of stages and the stages were realistically long… so it could take like 20 minutes to race one stage.

      Honestly, I spent more time playing RBR with mods than Dirt… but yeah.