Head to head comparison against all leading versions of DiRT 2.0.
Codemaster have consistently done well with the DiRT series and franchise’s latest iteration, DiRT Rally 2.0 is likely one of the best games the studio has ever developed in its long history. DiRT Rally 2.0 is running on the latest iteration of the Ego Game Technology Engine, abbreviated as the EGO engine and the framework has been modified to include some impressive under the hood changes. But before we delve into the technical aspects about the game, let’s talk about the game’s performance on the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and PC.
As usual, we will begin with the PC version. The developers recommend an AMD Ryzen 5 2600X or Intel Core i5 8600K, 8GB of memory and AMD RX Vega 56 or NVIDIA GTX 1070. On the graphical settings front, DiRT Rally 2.0 features a rather massive list of visual parameters you can play with. These includes the likes of Multisampling, Anisotropic Filtering, TAA, Shader Detail, Texture Detail, Reflections, Screen Space Reflections, Shadows, Night Lighting, Ambient Occlusion, Advanced Ambient Occlusion, Particles, Advanced Blending, Weather, Crowd, Cloth, Track, Mirror Details, Lends Dust, Motion Blur and just about anything can be tweaked. Our test PC includes a GTX 1080Ti, 16GB of GDDR4 memory and Ryzen 1700 CPU. We notched up every setting at max, and found out that the game performs quite admirably on our hardware. DiRT Rally 2.0 manages to run at more than 60 frames per second majority of the time but we came across sections of the race where the game was consistently dropping frames. Overall, we are extremely pleased with how much effort Codemasters have put into the PC build and it’s easily one of those games that does the platform justice, thanks to its vast range of graphical settings.
On the console front, things are rather intriguing for PS4 Pro and Xbox One X owners. Just before we started working on this analysis, we spoke with the game’s chief designer Ross Gowing. He revealed a couple of interesting things in terms of how DiRT Rally 2.0 handles it resolution across the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. To begin with, the PS4 Pro runs at 1080p and targets 60 frames per second but with a range of improved quality options. The Xbox One X, on the other hand offers two modes, a mode in which you can switch off 4K mode and the other one which supports 4K. According to Gowing, 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.
On the console front, we analysed the game’s performance by taking some sample scenes from the game and running it through trdrop, an open source software. Note that this tool gives us a mere demonstration of the game’s performance, because an exact 1:1 representation of performance can only be provided by the developers themselves since they have access to vast of array of tools and profilers. So, on both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, the game runs at a rock solid 60 frames per second. There were no drops at all according to the tool and even through a manual observation the game doesn’t seem to be dropping any frames. In short, the game performs better on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X compared to our test PC!
As far as differences goes between the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X versions, there doesn’t seem to be anything noticeable, other than the obvious differences that pop up due to resolution gap. However, the PC version, quite clearly, takes the lead with better reflection quality, better material shaders quality, shadow quality and draw distance.
We also wanted to talk about the various improvements that Codemasters have done to the game’s engine over the course of around 4 years since DiRT Rally came out. The very first thing we want to talk about is the game’s lighting technology. DiRT Rally used a rather a flat but decent lighting methodology to get the job done; this tech was improved in DiRT 4 and now we see it rendering close to its full vision in DiRT Rally 2.0 The tech has been modified in DiRT Rally 2.0 and it almost sticks to a full implementation of physical based lighting. This is especially noticeable in the car and track material shaders. Unfortunately, the environment, though largely improved, still utilizes a flat lighting model.
Next up is the game’s track degradation system. For those living under a rock, track degradation is a pivotal feature in rally games; the vehicles going before you will degrade the track conditions making things a bit difficult for you. However, in video games this isn’t exactly a new feature as many games in the past have implemented the same, although with mixed results. DiRT Rally 2.0 manages to somehow deliver a close to realistic presentation of degradation that not only renders the wear and tear on track but also impacts gameplay. For example, a track may get degraded due to the rain and this will be reflected in the shaders for mud on the track which in turn will impact on how it will look like based on time of the day which further impacts the vehicle’s handling.
Despite improving in several areas, DiRT Rally 2.0 features a rather underwhelming damage system. In our interview with Codemasters, Gowing stated that, “the team have re-written the underlying damage system to give them 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.” However, the current system still feels a bit superficial, although it has definitely improved compared to its predecessors. We are hopeful, that Codemasters will improve the damage modeling system further in a potential sequel.
DiRT Rally 2.0 may not be a visual behemoth and may not compare against the likes of Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo from a visual perspective. But there is something special about DiRT Rally 2.0. Its fantastic simulation-based gameplay, its strict adherence to 60 frames per second, along with a fantastic PC port and decent console versions, makes it one of the best racing games out there. The future is looking bright for the Dirt series and DiRT Rally 2.0 seems to the step in the right direction for the franchise.