Masterminds of the rally racing sim genre Codemasters are back with another crack at the motorsport with DiRT Rally 2.0, a successor to the 2015 game that impressed one and all with its renewed focus on realism and authenticity- and with the sequel, the developers have doubled down on all those aspects. It’s fair to say that the final product is well worth experiencing yourself, and provides a rally simulation experience that is unmatched by anything else currently on the market.
About a month ago, we sent across some of our most burning questions about the game to its development team, hoping to learn more about the improvements it brings to over its predecessors, the most major new mechanics and features it adds, how it’s running on all the platforms it’s available on, and much more. The questions below were answered by chief game designer Ross Gowing.
"The team have re-written the underlying damage system to give us more control than ever before over how cars get damaged."
One of the things in Dirt Rally 2.0 you’ve spoken about that seem quite impressive is its levels of track degradation. Can you go into detail about that a little bit, and how that will affect gameplay?
Rally drivers at national level have talked to us quite a bit about the challenges they face if they get out of position and end up towards the back of the running order, notably driving through churned up stages and ruts created by so many other cars passing through before them. We wanted players to experience that, so our stages will present an increased level of challenge depending on where you start – go from the front and you’ll find yourself sweeping loose material, a bit further down and you’ll get good running, and then from about 15th down to 150th you’ll start to find the odds are increasingly stacked against you and you’ll have to work even harder to put in competitive times.
Can you elaborate a bit on how Dirt Rally 2.0’s damage system has changed from its predecessor?
The team have re-written the underlying damage system to give us more control than ever before over how cars get damaged – for example you’ll now see carbon fibre panels flex before they crack and bits splinter off, whereas metal panels will dent and collect scratches and scrapes instead. In terms of mechanical damage there’s greater dependencies between key components, so make sure you use your repair time in Service Areas wisely!
How much of an impact is the weather system going to have on driving?
Weather makes a big difference – searching around at high speed for grip that doesn’t exist on a wet surface is a massive challenge, and once you add heavy rain and darkness into that mix you’ve really got yourself a challenge!
What sort of changes can we expect to see in My Team?
There are some elements that will be familiar to players such as the way our Rally and Rallycross ladders work – once again rising to the top is one thing, but staying there is quite another. Our Daily, Weekly and Monthly challenges return with a few tweaks and more to come further down the line; and we’ve also introduced AI Challenges with the same cadence. You’ll be able to pick and choose which vehicles you want to compete in from start to finish, as well as hiring and training engineers to keep on top of your repair requirements as events become more and more challenging.
"This is a game for rally fans and serious drivers; but don’t let that put you off if you’ve never thought of driving (virtually or otherwise) a rally car before."
What sort of post-launch support can fans expect to see for Dirt Rally 2.0?
We have announced our headline plans for post-launch support in the form of DiRT Seasons; these are 3-month DLC portions in which players will get 3 locations and 5-6 cars which will drop throughout that timeline. There’ll be some fan favourites returning, as well as some new surprises, and we have concrete plans for the first two seasons which will take us through the first six months. In addition we’re planning feature updates and quality-of-life improvements where we think they’re required.
What new additions can players expect to see in the game as far as game modes as concerned?
We’ve got a Historic mode which allows players to play through the key eras of rallying in four chapters, each teed up with archive footage and some explanation of the real life exploits and achievements of that time. We also have the official FIA World RX Championship mode where players can jump into cars from the 2018 season and aim to set fast times in the heats, and then battle other drivers door-to-door in pursuit of podiums. We also have a Time Trial mode for leaderboard-focused players, as well as a Custom mode which allows you play however you want on your own or with other players.
Is Dirt Rally 2.0 a game for rally enthusiasts through and through, or does it make any concessions to be accessible for fans who might not be too familiar with the genre?
This is a game for rally fans and serious drivers; but don’t let that put you off if you’ve never thought of driving (virtually or otherwise) a rally car before. Starting out in a modern R2 car will allow you to experience what it’s like for real drivers taking their first steps in the sport and gradually build up your skills in much the same way as junior categories do.
How is the career mode structured in Dirt Rally 2.0?
Players have the choice of building their own roster of vehicles in My Team and defining their own journey, or take a more pre-defined route with our Historic and FIA World RX Championship modes.
Have you considered adding VR to Dirt Rally 2.0 down the line?
There have been many conversations about VR in the studio; many of which have been instigated by our community and wider player base and we have encouraged them to champion features they feel strongly about.
Are there any plans for a Nintendo Switch release?
At this point in time we don’t have a Nintendo Switch release planned.
"Both the base Xbox One and PS4 are targeting 1080p at 60fps, we use dynamic resolution scaling across all platforms to help us maintain the 60fps that is key to gameplay."
Does the game will feature Xbox One X specific enhancements? What can players expect if they are playing the game on Xbox One X? Is 4K/60fps on the cards?
For the Xbox One X Dirt Rally 2.0 supports either 1080p/60fps with a range of improved quality options, or running at 4k with the standard quality options.
And how has the PS4 Pro version turned out in terms of resolution and frame rate?
The PS4 Pro runs at 1080p, 60fps but with a range of improved quality options.
From a development perspective, how do you find the Xbox One X to be, and how do you compare it with the PS4 Pro?
Development on both the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro is a considerable step up from their base consoles and give us extra options to be able to push effects that we’d otherwise have to restrict to the PC platform.
How is the game running on the original Xbox One and PS4, frame rate and resolution wise?
Both the base Xbox One and PS4 are targeting 1080p at 60fps, we use dynamic resolution scaling across all platforms to help us maintain the 60fps that is key to gameplay.