Dirt 4 screeches out

Parp parp! Codemasters released Dirt 4 [official site] on Friday night, continuing the adventures of those naughty cars who like driving in the mud. If you’ve not played the series before, I’ll explain that it’s basically the teen companion to Pixar’s Cars. Can Dirty Denise, Big Barry, Mudflap Mahendra, Tailpipe Tam, and Pete the Puddles win the race, save the day, and discover the true meaning of teamwork – and friendship? Watch the launch trailer for a few hints (note: no spoilers, though plenty of spoilers):

Dirt 4 continues the rally racing and has buggies and trucks too. One shiny new feature this year is the option for procedurally-generated tracks, based on parameters you can tweak. Please sir mister video game, make me one with serpentine twists through a vast forest with a 10mph speed limit.

Look at the initial Steam player reviews, arcade racing fans seem pretty pleased by and large but some Dirty Boys (as I’m sure they call themselves) who want sim racing consider it a step down from Dirt Rally, even on Dirt 4’s simmiest setting.

Dirt 4 is £44.99/54,99€/$59.99 on Steam.

Be sure to stick around for the post-credits sequence. I won’t give anything away, but I hear Codemasters are teasing something very big in the Dirtiverse which involves a certain tow truck last seen skidding down a ravine…


  1. ColonelFlanders says:

    Weirdly with the Steam reviews, most of the negatives the complain about the physics have only an hour or so on record. In my opinion that’s barely enough time to set your wheel up.

    Also most of the people reviewing the handling talk like they’ve never driven a car in these conditions in their lives. Complaining about AWD drifts suddenly being difficult to execute, or that braking doesn’t work how it used to only demonstrates that you notice the change in the physics, not that you have any understanding of how cars actually work.

    • Slazia says:

      Scientific video analysis –

      0:24s – Very strange flip. The car is moving to the left and suddenly starts going right.

      0:36s – The car didn’t flip. Looks odd to me.

      Conclusion: Console physics.

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      As a dirty bear, I don’t see any particular issues with the handling on sim mode. I had a lot of fun driving the Hyundai R5 in Spain in the founder’s event, and I’m not picking up any particular quirks with the historic rally cars as opposed to how they were in Dirt Rally. If anything, they feel more refined and require a more cautious approach.

      To me, Dirt 4 is a game that incorperates all the critiques people had of Dirt 3 and learns a lot of lessons from their outing in Dirt Rally. It’s all I wanted, and I do feel codemasters delivered here. And, if you were a fan of Dirt 2 and Dirt 3 but bounced off Dirt Rally, chances are you’ll enjoy this one: The game offers a similar handling mode to Dirt 3 in it’s “Gamer” mode, and even if you want to try out simulation mode the game eases you in a lot better then Dirt Rally did.

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        Glad this is the case. Thank you Mr Bear for the report, I was a big fan of the ‘sim’ aspect of Dirt Rally, and am glad this is as good if not better in places. Dirt Rally was by no means perfect, but as someone who DEFINITELY DOESN’T participate in illegal night rally events, I’ll be picking this up and dusting off my wheel for a bit for some slidey slidey crashy crashy.

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          Grizzly says:

          I would like to note that I have not driven any of the vehicles depicted in Dirt 4 offroad.

          I did once drive a trike on a rallycross stage when I was a lot younger, but sadly that is not an option here.

      • Unsheep says:

        So many people on Steam want every racing game to have 100% accurate physics (?) and be 100% photorealistic. And that is often not what the developers are aiming for, or are even capable of offering.

    • trjp says:

      The majority of complaints will be “but Dirt Rally is harder so this is a cop-out”

      I’d personally be happy if people leaving reviews which aren’t reviews but which are actually personal complaints/irks or even technical support requests, were struck-down by lightning instantly – but sadly that’s not a thing so we have to tolerate their existence (indeed, they appear to be a majority of reviewers on Steam!)

    • Unsheep says:

      I think you are expecting far too much from the Steam crowd, considering 80% racing gamers on Steam don’t even seem to have a driver’s license (not being old enough).

    • kassialma666 says:

      How are people supposed to test the game, and give review then? 2 hours is plenty enough to notice the physics are fucked, then get a Steam refund. You only give negative reviews to games, after you’ve wasted your money eh?

      And yes the physics are complete wank

  2. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    Thank you for this hot scoop, alice :-P

    And yes, the serpentine twists through a vast forest with a 10mph speed limit are definitely possible. Just go to Wales or Michigan and crank up the complexity and length to the highest level :-)

  3. trjp says:

    £44.99 is outrageous for the PC version – being the same price as console physical versions (which are resellable)

    Add the question of DLC (Codemasters have historically been happy to fuck their customers repeatedly for this) and I’m happy to wait until the whole package is <£20 really…

    'Grey' keys for this on PC are already under £30 – so anyone leaping now is basically throwing good cash into a hole (which you're free to do – but you should realize you're doing it!)

  4. Mr Bismarck says:

    I’m enjoying Dirt 4.

    My experience thus far is that the actual Rallying isn’t quite as fun as the rally in Dirt Rally, but the additional Rally Cross options, the “Your stage” and the surprisingly enjoyable Landrush racing make it a fuller box.

    On the rally side I found DR’s Renault Alpine to be one of the most communicative cars I’ve driven in any sim and it feels a lot… flatter in Dirt 4. Interestingly, this Dirt Show from June 9th, (jump to ~30:48 if the timestamp doesn’t work), suggests that they couldn’t give as much time to the historical rally cars as they did to the modern cars, which could explain that some.

    They also claim that the high grip level that seems to be everyone’s favourite Dirt4 complaint on Steam is actually a correction to a weakness in DR, rather than an issue with Dirt 4.

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      Ah yes, the old “Harder is more realistic” thing rearing it’s head.

      I like the having more grip: Driving the Hyundai R5 in Spain reminded me a lot of Assetto Corsa, which IMO is still the benchmark for these kind of things, whilst Germany in Dirt Rally often had you slipping. On gravel the cars feel a lot more viscous then they do in dirt rally, which works really well with the weight transfer being a lot more pronounced this time around. To me, with my battered G27, it seems they nailed the feeling of a tyre digging into a loose surface.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        Difficulty doesn’t equal realism but it’s certainly a component of driving a car on or near the limit. The best rally drivers in the world still occasionally throw their cars at the trees.

        Anyway the thing that seems unrealistic in Dirt 4 isn’t the difficulty (tbh, I never got the “omg Dirt Rally is hard” thing) but moreso how on-rails everything feels and how it takes maximum effort to make the cars slide even a little bit aside from the terminal understeer every car has.

  5. Freud says:

    Is there any Gymkhana in this game? Almost completely ruined Dirt 3 being forced on the players.

    • kingprawn says:

      There are completely optional Gymkhana style “joyride” events. They are totally separate from the career mode.

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      Grizzly says:

      As an addendum: Aside from “Joyride” being a seperate option in the menus you can ignore, the career mode is very lenient in letting you do your thing. It has an open structure with 4 disciplines (Rally, Landrush, Rallycross and Historic Rally), each of which having a seperate progression towards a seperate World Championship.

      And as you can combine driving for other teams to complete events and creating your own team and buying your own cars to compete in events, you never really have to grind for either money or experience if you want to shake things up a little. If you’ve invested all your money in historic rally cars and suddenly find the urge to drive a monster truck, you can! The team loaning you their vehicle will take a very significant cut (although if you stick with one team for your loaner vehicles they’ll give you more money), but it doesn’t stop you from completing events. And yet, I still feel as if I’m progressing, investing money I get driving for other teams into my own team and vehicles, and still progressing up the championships tree. This works the other way around as well: If you primarily drive for other teams and find yourself wanting to do a championship nobody is offering you anything for, you can buy your own car and do it that way.

      It’s not exactly F1 2016, but it’s certainly the best career mode they’ve done for the Dirt series. Both more in-depth and less intrusive.

  6. kingprawn says:

    My biggest issue is the MyStage thing. All the rally stages are procedurally generated. It’s a cool idea in theory because it’s impossible to memorize the stages like you could potentially do in Dirt Rally. In practice the tracks don’t really have any artistic character, and look and pretty much the same.

    So I’m really happy with the new handling of the rally cars, but the courses you can drive them on are a lot more dull than in Dirt Rally. Maybe they’ll release some hand-made courses at some point?

    • trjp says:

      The idea that rally drivers don’t know the stage they’re driving has always been nonsense tho – there’s pretty-much no rally discipline where the driver hasn’t recce’d the course/driven it a million times before…

      Rather than creating ‘entirely new stages’ I’d have been happier with some form of dynamic stage where events/issues occur to change the nature of the stage – weather, accidents, changes to the grip levels, fallen trees – that sort of stuff – but hey ho

      • kingprawn says:

        The stages also have dynamic weather, in some cases the weather changing dramatically mid stage; and accidents, where you have to avoid another driver who has crashed. I might like to see hand crafted stages, but with more variation and alternated routes than in DR. Or maybe larger set piece sections which are then legoed together some way, rather than turn to turn.

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        Grizzly says:

        It’s a shame that you can’t recce a course beforehand (for the readers who don’t know: Rally drivers and co drivers prepare stages by driving on it at the speed limit, stopping regularly and making those notes you hear when you’re going fast). But the WRC have plenty of stages which many of it’s competitors only really drive once a year, and the WRC does add a few new stages in there every year. In the career mode, all the stages have been pre-generated (they’re the same for everyone and the same upon re-visiting the event), and if you find a stage you like during the dailies you can always save it, so there is that “Like the back of my hand” option if you so desire.

        I am aware that Sebastian Loeb in particular has a knack for memorizing stages, but in Dirt Rally we have infinite restarts with far shorter stages then they use in real life. Dirt 4’s approach is not perfect but I do think it’s better then we had before.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Which is the only possible outcome from attempting procedural track design : boring tracks.

      No driver enters a race not knowing the track, so it’s a flawed concept from the outset. And good track design is hard – making a track flow and be memorable and fun to race on takes hand designing. Taking that away is hardly a feature. Seems like a very lowest common denominator feature to me.

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        Yeah but drivers don’t get to pause and restart if they fuck it up. I quite like the my stage thing, its nice being at the seat of your pants while you do the track, and encourages you to actually listen to your co-driver and make decisions, rather than just doing the track 1000 times in time trial modes. Besides, the best chance of learning the track real rally drivers get is driving through at the speed limit to write the pace notes. I expect Codies omitted that ‘feature’ because it would he BORING AS FUCK.

  7. ButteringSundays says:

    You guys really need to get someone on board that plays driving/racing games – it’s hardly a niche genre and the persistent ‘i don’t know anything about this, here is a word count’ schtick is getting old.

    • Unsheep says:

      Completely agree. It’s getting quite pathetic considering how mainstream racing games actually are, especially after titles like Forza Horizon, Dirt Rally, and Project Cars.

      It’s the GiantBomb curse, where journalists make little to no preparation and research before covering or even reviewing a game: ‘here’s a game or genre I know nothing about, let’s judge it !’.

      After all, they don’t mind taking the time to learn about other genres, like 4X or pixel-art games.

  8. vahnn says:

    A couple things to keep in mind if you pick up Dirt 4:

    1) The Career mode starts you out in a lowly R2 FWD car with some pretty tame default tuning. This does not represent a majority of the game. After a couple races, you start doing races where you can pick from a couple different sponsor-provided cars until you can start buying your own.

    2) The default tuning on almost all of the cars is very tame. In most cases, there will be severe understeer, sometimes poor gearing, and some relatively weak braking. If you want to induce some oversteer so you can slide into corners, you’re going to need to do some manual tuning: stiffen the anti-roll bars, lock up the rear differential, and move the brake and torque bias to the rear a bit.

    Dirt 4 supposedly more accurately models the effects of car weight and aerodynamics, so it has a different feel to Dirt Rally. It’s less floaty.

  9. Foosnark says:

    I’m a serious-casual race game player, or something like that. As in, I don’t really like arcadey racing games much except for Wipeout. I like the feeling that controlling a car is a challenge but an achievable one with practice. But I play with a Steam controller, don’t really follow actual real-world racing, drive a Prius in the real world (though I learned to drive by offroading in a VW-based rail buggy), and in Dirt Rally I tend to come in somewhere in the range from upper bottom tier (usually) or low top tier (when I’m having a really good day).

    So the Steam reviews kind of made me shy away from paying $60USD for Dirt 4 and had me fire up Dirt Rally again instead (which I seem to recall I paid $25 for during early access). I think I might still wait for a sale or price drop, but it’s good to know that “the physics suck now” isn’t a completely fair assessment.