Codemasters’ DiRT series has seen its ups and downs but many can agree that it’s seen a strong revival with DiRT Rally. The PC title is currently available digitally but it will be heading to consoles and retail this April, thus providing everyone a strong dose of off-road rallycross racing.
GamingBolt had a chance to speak to chief game designer Paul Coleman about the impending console release, updates planned for all platforms and what console gamers can expect in terms of racing.
"Suffice to say we have some amazing ideas floating around the studio at the moment but whether they are right for DLC or whether they are more suitable to something bigger is what we need to decide over the coming months."
DiRT Rally was very well received when it released on PC. What motivated you to bring it to consoles?
Paul Coleman: In my heart I’d always wanted DiRT Rally to be a console game but the direction we took the franchise in really leant itself to being tried and tested on Steam Early access so we decided to go down that road. As soon as we saw that players were really enjoying the level of challenge and the amount of detail and attention we had given our simulation model we started to discuss how we could take it to consoles.
What updates are currently planned for DiRT Rally, especially now that it’s heading to PS4 and Xbox One?
Paul Coleman: So the PC version is going to get a free update that will deliver all the additional content and improvements that have come about as a result of working on the console versions. Where we go next will very much depend on the reaction to the console versions so we will have to wait and see.
What other base changes will you be making to improve the racing experience for console players?
Paul Coleman: We have tried to keep things as close to the PC version as possible. We’ve added in some tutorial videos to help players understand the theory behind rally driving and we have also added in some feeder series for Rallycross so that players can now choose to start their career in either Rally or Rallycross but other than that it has all been about subtle and delicate refinements.
Will there be new cars, tracks and more in the coming months? Are there any expansions or substantial DLC planned?
Paul Coleman: You’ll have to wait and see. Suffice to say we have some amazing ideas floating around the studio at the moment but whether they are right for DLC or whether they are more suitable to something bigger is what we need to decide over the coming months.
"I don’t think there were any major obstacles but we did have to get used to some of the nuances that the PS4 and Xbox One have introduced."
Can we expect updates on PC to arrive at the same rate as PS4 and Xbox One?
Paul Coleman: Absolutely, we will be maintaining parity as much as possible between all the platforms as soon as the console version is released. Obviously we can update a bit quicker on PC and we’ll only update platform specific stuff on the relevant platform but the aim is to support all things equally.
What are your thoughts on the Xbox Preview Program? Will you bring DiRT Rally to it prior to its commercial release?
Paul Coleman: I think it is cool that this program is becoming available. I think that moment has passed for DiRT Rally but it is great to know that this kind of thing is now available on console as well as PC Steam.
What are your thoughts on developing for the Xbox One and PS4? Did you encounter any major obstacles in bringing DiRT Rally to either console?
Paul Coleman: It’s been a challenge but that is because this is the first time we have developed a game for this generation of consoles in our studio. I don’t think there were any major obstacles but we did have to get used to some of the nuances that the PS4 and Xbox One have introduced.
How close will the console versions match with the PC versions? For that matter, in terms of graphical fidelity, what graphical options from PC (like AA, shadow quality, etc.) can we expect on the console versions?
Paul Coleman: We targeted our ‘High’ Graphical Quality preset and I think we have got pretty close to that. The key thing is that we wanted the game to run at 60fps to ensure that the game played as smoothly as possible and I am delighted to say that we have achieved that.
"The sense of taking a rally car down a narrow rally stage with only your co-driver guiding you is something very different to anything any of these games offer and it’s the thing that we have really focused on."
What are your thoughts on other racing titles like Forza Motorsport 6 and DriveClub on consoles and how DiRT Rally will appeal to their fans?
Paul Coleman: I think they both did what they set out to do well and it has definitely been interesting following how DriveClub has developed over the years. I think DiRT Rally offers something truly different though. The sense of taking a rally car down a narrow rally stage with only your co-driver guiding you is something very different to anything any of these games offer and it’s the thing that we have really focused on. We’ve done that by ensuring that the improvements we made to the simulation didn’t just focus on the car but also looked at the surfaces you are driving on. We actually model the density of the surfaces and that is something that these other franchises don’t even have to think about.
What’s next for the DiRT franchise in the coming year?
Paul Coleman: Hah! You’ll have to wait and see but I think it is fair to say that the success of DiRT Rally on PC and hopefully the success continuing on console has given us a renewed confidence in making authentic rally games.
Are there any plans to update the PC version to use DX12?
Paul Coleman: Not at this stage.
"I can confidently say that the game runs 1080p 60fps on Xbox One but we do have the dynamic system in place for the very rare circumstances that it needs it just to ensure that the frame rate remains at a consistent 60."
We already know that the game will run at 900p on the Xbox One. However are there any plans to bump the resolution up to a dynamic 1080p at launch?
Paul Coleman: Actually, I can confidently say that the game runs 1080p 60fps on Xbox One but we do have the dynamic system in place for the very rare circumstances that it needs it just to ensure that the frame rate remains at a consistent 60. It’s something we always wanted and although it has been a challenge I’m delighted that we have managed to achieve it.
Are you guys using the 7th core CPU on the Xbox One and PS4 that were unlocked in their recent SDK updates? If yes, how has this helped out development?
Paul Coleman: I wish I knew but the code guys don’t really tell me these things.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about the console versions before we let you go?
Paul Coleman: Not really, I just hope that console players love what we have done with DiRT Rally as much as they have on PC.