…And THIS is DiRT 4 in Action!

While members of the global sim racing community now cautiously await the fourth rendition of Codemasters’ high profile rally racer, the pair of individuals at Erased Citizens have uploaded a mammoth fifteen minute video of the 2017 racing simulator in action. Earlier this morning, when news of DiRT 4‘s existence first broke, many of us were unsure as to what exactly we would be receiving when the game finally drops in June – as Codemasters have routinely displayed they are more than comfortable catering to both hardcore and casual audience, seen in 2012’s DiRT Showdown and 2015’s DiRT Rally – the concerns of hardcore rally racing fans can now safely be put to rest. Like Codemasters themselves have claimed in their introductory blog post, DiRT 4 will merely flesh out the underlying experience they’d originally created with DiRT Rally, which now looks like it was designed as more of a “trial run” for a full-blown offering than a quirky offshoot of the series.

firefox-2017-01-26-16-21-01-82DiRT 4 boots up immediately asking you which physics engine you’d prefer to power the experience, meaning the casual audience returning after many years of absensce from DiRT 3 will have something they can pickup and play with a controller, whereas the hardcore sim racers among us can essentially flick a switch and be playing a proper sequel to DiRT Rally.

firefox-2017-01-26-16-21-14-38Progression through the game’s extensive career mode will come easy for the hardcore sim racers among us, as hefty difficulty bonuses will be handed out to those who play DiRT 4 on a higher setting. I’m assuming the Fearless mode will completely disallow restarts and max out the AI driver difficulty for the ultimate challenge, though successful championship runs will undoubtedly open up more of the game in a shorter period of time.

firefox-2017-01-26-16-21-25-10Like Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, it appears the main portion of DiRT 4 will revolve around your own virtual rally career, in which you purchase cars, sign sponsors, and enter championships of increasingly higher prestige. Though DiRT Rally attempted to include some sort of progression element via hiring crew members and using race winnings to purchase cars, it was admittedly laid out in a clunky manner – constructed in such a basic fashion that the process of partaking in these odds and ends was more of a chore than anything else. Judging by the completely revamped presentation, these miscellaneous text adventures will most likely play a larger role throughout the game’s campaign mode than they did in DiRT Rally.

firefox-2017-01-26-16-21-36-28The list of modes seems fairly predictable for any modern racing game, though there now seems to be a proper rally school mode similar to what we saw in Richard Burns Rally over a decade ago. This time, however, Codemasters have partnered with Dirt Fish Rally School in Washington state, so there’s a chance that the tutorial portion of DiRT 4 will feature an actual rally school location that can be unlocked upon successfully completing each lesson, as opposed to recycling stages from the main campaign with generic text overlays. It’s a very nice inclusion considering even experienced sim racers picked up DiRT Rally back in 2015 and really didn’t know what the hell they were doing.

firefox-2017-01-26-16-21-41-12While it’s too early to talk about the exact cars and tracks which will be available in DiRT 4, it appears everything except hill climb racing and trailblazer events are set to make a return. Codemasters sill have the rights to the official FIA Monster Energy World RallyCross series, meaning we’re getting a host of licensed circuit racing content, but the main bulk of the point to point rally events will be held under a fictional Global Rally Championship moniker. With the World Rally Championship License locked up by Kylotonn Games, it’s highly doubtful we’ll see any of the truly ludicrous 2017-spec WRC entries from the likes of Ford, Hyundai, Citroen, or Toyota, though Codemasters did manage to include a partial selection of modern rally cars provided they steered clear of official liveries.

Super 1600 buggies and two classes of short course off-road trucks (2WD and 4WD) will make up the final portion of the core DiRT 4 experience, again operating under the fictional moniker of Land Rush. Codemasters claim there will be a portion of Land Rush tracks located in Nevada, California, and Mexico, though we’re unsure if they will be using real-world circuits seen in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Series as they did for the original DiRT back in 2007. I believe I saw a glimpse of what appeared to be Chula Vista when the footage above cut to a brief shot of Super 1600 buggy action, but I’m not well-versed in short course off road stuff to make a proper judgement on that.

firefox-2017-01-26-16-22-25-84DiRT 4’s most anticipated feature, dubbed Your Stage, is already in a semi-completed state and can be seen in action during the fifteen minute raw gameplay piece by Erased Citizens. Governed by just two sliders, Length and Complexity, the feature appears to work as advertised – and quite quickly, I must add, spitting out a phenomenal looking stage in mere seconds. This is going to kick all kinds of ass for online leagues – which are now cross-platform – as none of the aliens among us will be able to memorize terrain exploits and ideal lines to earn a leg up on the competition. I’m really looking forward to an online environment that rewards driver skill rather than memorization. firefox-2017-01-26-16-25-18-33The overall presentation has received a much needed facelift, with a shot of your car inside the service area now totally replacing a generic floating cluster of menus with panoramic shots of each environment in the background. One of the main complaints I had with DiRT Rally when I reviewed the title in late 2015 centered around the outright lack of any life in the software, and it appears Codemasters have directly addressed these concerns, giving you a sweet shot of your crew hard at work on your race car in between stages. It’s the little stuff like this that keeps the game from getting stale.

firefox-2017-01-26-16-25-33-12Codemasters have also included their sim setup-oriented cockpit view, allowing users to receive a much clearer shot of the road out their front window, instead of being forced to look at a virtual steering wheel when they’re already holding one in their hands. After playing DiRT Rally earlier this afternoon, I’m hoping Codemasters will implement the ability to adjust this camera in the same manner of a traditional cockpit view, as some of the dash cameras were literally focused on the hood, and some of them – such as the 1999 Ford Focus – weren’t even aligned properly with the steering column. Your head was essentially resting on the side window.

firefox-2017-01-26-16-24-49-90The stages look spectacular, and to everyone’s surprise, the legendary Nicky Grist will be returning as the game’s co-driver, with both the in-house navigator and female co-pilot Jen Horsey (whom I personally preferred) relegated to minor roles. This is something many have wanted over the years, as the casual co-pilots seen in previous DiRT games were often criticized for their lack of detailed instructions.

firefox-2017-01-26-16-23-54-83Sim racers have every right to be cautious about what Codemasters are building in DiRT 4, but judging by what’s been leaked to the public only an hour ago, Codemasters have blended the underlying driving experience and serious atmosphere of DiRT Rally, with the vast array of content that turned 2011’s DiRT 3 into one of the most well-rounded driving games you could purchase for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. While I’m a bit choked that the Trailblazer and Hill Climb disciplines seem to have been neglected – those cars were fucking awesome – Codemasters appear to have figured out that the Monster Energy dude bro crowd won’t stick around for long, and at some point, you have to create something that ticks every last box in the eyes of your loyal fans. DiRT 4 looks seriously awesome, and we can’t wait to play it.

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49 thoughts on “…And THIS is DiRT 4 in Action!

      1. They don’t need a license to design Hill climb tracks, all they would need a license for is tracks that are privately owned or owned by a corporation.

        They could make all the tracks they want just as other racing games without a license make knockoff cars and tracks.

        It’s more likely that telemetry from Dirt on PC showed users played Hill climb less than other types of races. They only have a finite amount of time and money to make the game and this time around they spent a good portion of both on the rendering system.

        If people feel strongly about wanting Hill climb then they should start sending tweets to the company, posting on the official forums, send emails, post on the games subreddit etc. Make sure they know.

        Then maybe we get lucky and the mode gets released in a track pack dlc. That’s pretty much how Blizzard Island came into existence in Horizon 3. People started asking for snow right after the release of Forza 6 because it had rain and obviously only sissy races get cancelled for pfft snow. To be fair on the forums people were asking for it for Horizon but they were doing it in the F6 gameplay discussion area so I don’t think they wanted snow in the main series….That said I think it would be awesome lol. Nothing like a good 30mph race. Set it to 50 laps and now you got a single event that lasts all day

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  1. “it’s highly doubtful we’ll see any of the truly ludicrous 2017-spec WRC entries from the likes of Ford, Hyundai, Citroen, or Toyota”

    Don’t worry, WRC 7 will arrive on PC, PS4 and Xbox One next fall. It will be way better and more polished than WRC 6, we promise!

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  2. Its looking a lot like a mix of DiRT Rally and Sebastien Loeb. I just hope there is known of the fluff that we found in DiRT Rally (i.e. The God Hand) and really hit the sweet spot that RBR hit with us. Codemaster you did decent in F1 help rally be great again. (Throws on what with last quote)

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  3. I hope one day when the current WRC licence runs out that they can do a joint deal with a new company and Codemasters so that a yearly release can still happen but when a DiRT comes out it has WRC and World Rallycross as well. Basically, it would make DiRT a rally NR2003 of sorts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never hope that. Sure the the wrc license would be nice but who wants to buy a new game every year? That means there is almost no time for changes to be made to the graphics or physics engines. It also causes franchise fatigue.

      What we need is codemasters to get the license and put out a new title every other year. That way you can have your engine team(s) working and testing upgrades in the off years instead of using them to chase bugs and make small tweaks in the never ending grind that is a yearly release. It also leads to higher employee turnover which is bad when your goal is making great racing games.

      It takes years to gain any real experience but if you are constantly in a state of having to release in under 12 months you burn out (har) and leave for another company.

      Plus the public would get tired of it as well. Barely changing games every year…No thanks. We have seen that too many times in the last few years in other genres. A perfect example is Assassin’s Creed. Since they decided to make it yearly franchise they never had a chance to dig into the code and fix the issues people had been having since day 1 of the original. Even with something like 20 studios churning AC games they couldn’t make any major changes to the engine because it might break tons of systems. Then you end up with Unity and Syndicate and your fans are also getting really sick of the games too.

      Every other year at minimum and every 3 years at most otherwise you end up like Sony and you somehow find yourself taking 10 years to make a racing game and when it’s released its visually worse looking than the competition, can’t maintain a solid 60fps and while your car list my be massive it’s literally filled with every variant of every car you have licensed. We don’t need every possible factory version of the 99 civic to pad the numbers and we certainly don’t need the numbers to be padded by using meshes from previous generation games lol.

      I bet Gran Turismo 6 is the most expensive game Sony has ever made. Between licensing and the absurdly long development cycle where they paid at least 150 people for a decade…Jesus. The only game more expensive will be GT7. GT Sport is just them teaching the interns all their skills before they pass away from old age. Half those people haven’t seen outside the studio for 8 years!

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  4. As someone who extremely loved DiRT 3 and hesitated to get into DiRT Rally due to worries I’d be pretty much impaled on the difficulty spike, I’m very glad that they aren’t ditching either crowd. (And hey, so far, there’s nothing that’ll make my friends that gave up at Gymkhana turn their nose up this time!)

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    1. From the Redbull interview:

      “Will we see a return of the more party-mode esque game modes in DiRT 4? Will you be improving on them in any way?

      We are definitely going to have some skill-based Joyride challenges that take their cues from that aspect of DiRT 3. They’ll take place at the DiRT Academy and will allow you to test yourself against your friends and the best in the world. They are a really great way to improve your car control away from the intensity of the race track and they’re already proving to be really fun. We’re a competitive bunch in the studio so we’re always sending out challenges for the rest of the team to beat.”

      It’s still unknown whether they’ll show up in the campaign or not.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Whoever was driving the Mitsubishi hasn’t touched a rally game in his life. If that’s the kind of audience they want to target it appears they still have work to do.

    Nice touch having to stop by the marshal after completing the stage though, no more kamikaze-ing through the finish line.

    I still hope they expand the number of locations somehow, because those two sliders seem more like a novelty than a real game changer. At worst it might be like the Milestone WRC games, where going through the stages in a particular rally left me in a constant state of déjà vu (those copy-pasted hairpins in Monaco, jesus christ).

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    1. Watch the early impressions video. They fully admit they knew nothing about rallying or Dirt series.

      As for the stage generator, I think it speaks volumes about it’s quality when several hardcore Dirt Rally fans who played the game actually didn’t realise they were not driving recreations of real life stages at that point.

      Supposedly the generator uses some sort of premade (and likely real life inspired) tiles to put a sensible stage together, it’s not completely random. Which is also how codriver calls work with the generated stuff.

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      1. Every procedural generator has to work between two extremes: nonsensical random garbage and rearranged hand-crafted areas. The closer it is to the latter, the better the results, but the repetition becomes more obvious. The biggest limitation, besides a finite amount of assets, is creating distinct features and landmarks: a memorable section or trackside decoration is going to be very noticeable the next time you see it compared to a generic stage. The algorithm can’t create truly unique content.

        Of course different people have different expectations. Some are content with completing thousands of automatically generated quests in Skyrim. I can’t. I need to be able to appreciate the effort and care that real people put into designing or recreating something or else I can’t be bothered with it. Imagine if all we had in Richard Burns Rally were variations of the original stages. It just wouldn’t be the same.

        Randomizing a rally stage is an economical solution to the problem, but for us as the end consumers it is not the best one. Its biggest value lies in providing a more leveled ground for multiplayer competitions, though truth be told I don’t care much about that, since I always keep rallying as a single player experience. I don’t need “near infinite” content, just enough so that I don’t see it all in a couple of days of casual play.

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        1. >Imagine if all we had in Richard Burns Rally were variations of the original stages.
          4 out of every 6 stages in RBR are just reverses
          also the pairs of stages that have reverses, are coincidentally quite symmetric

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        2. I am really looking forward to what “infinite” stages will bring to online leagues. It will effectively mean no feasible possibility of people learning the stages beforehand, perfecting their times over and over, bringing the competition closer to what real life rallying is all about and making it much more a contest of real skill, not just a contest of endless drill and hotlapping.

          That alone is a great prospect no amount of fixed stages can provide.

          Provided the generated stages feel real enough, sure. But seems like they do from what people are saying.

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        3. I don’t think there has ever been a real game that is entirely be generated on the fly.

          No Man’s Sky isn’t and that’s probably the closest. It generates geometry based on a random seed sure but all the textures and effects are made by people.

          Anyways there has been a rally game that uses dynamic track generation and it was test drive rally on Dreamcast. The feature worked pretty well.

          It’s easy in a racing game actually. You input a set of rules that would define things that should and shouldn’t be done like avoiding certain turn types directly connected or max height for a jump then you tell it what art assets to use and that’s about it. For a game like this they probably have a few predefined pieces it can also use but it shouldn’t be required as long as the team that made it stayed realistic with their rule set.

          What’s really fun is having a racing game generate a track then let the user tweak it with stuff like elevation changes or swapping out corners etc.

          With that we could have our hillclimb back. It would be amazing if codemasters really embraced the modding scene and released track building tools and then set it up so they can be used in public races and are downloaded in the race lobby.

          If it used only art assets in the game you should be able to make a pretty killer course that takes 10 min to drive that downloads in under 30 seconds since a track layout is nothing more than numbers at the end of the day and downloading what is essentially a 50kb text file doesn’t take very long.

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          1. Dirt Rally is on a whole other level of complexity compared to a Dreamcast game, it’s not as easy as putting scalextric pieces together. We are talking entire mountains modeled in the game and roads that follow the topography of the terrain in a rational manner, as well as realistic transitions between different zones (Sweet Lamb is a perfect example). In V-Rally you could see the pieces popping up in front of you. In Dirt Rally there are sweeping vistas showing several kilometers of road ahead and behind you.

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  6. It’s hard to say anything about physics from watching a video but a.) I’m actually excited that they’re bringing back stadium trucks/buggies and b.) I’m pretty impressed at how narrow the first generated rally stage they drive on is

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    1. and c.) Yeah, that track generator is a game changer. Being able to whip out 8-mile long stages of varying complexity at the push of a button is amazing and I hope the degree of randomness is high enough that you don’t start quickly memorizing sections.

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  7. I really hope that Hill Climb make it into the final build. I feel like it would be a waste of content to not implement it after Codies went to all the trouble to get the official branding for Pikes Peak. If they bring Pikes Peak and a hill climb stage generator to the game on top of what we have seen this game could be epic.

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    1. unfortunately in the gossip-thread I read their license for Pikes Peak had run out. Ah well, I believe the push for this procedural stage-generation was a reason in and on itself for this game. It kind-of is covering new grounds in that not many have achieved it thus far in a satisfying form.

      Should this have freed up their resources to do more core development, that’s brilliant. However I would expect them to rediscover their more traditional crafting skills with either some dlc or the next dirt title respectively. Probably need to figure out what stage-rally events aren’t part of WRC that are worthwhile as well as attainable as content for a not-WRC rally game.

      Thx again FIA/WRC for opening another one of those cans of worms called “exclusive licenses”! You’d think the Porsche-E.A.-deal would have educated those involved how destructive that move was (…)

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  8. My biggest concern is that the stages will feel generic.
    I have a hard time believing this algorithm can produce stages with soul and charachter like the ones we have in DR.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, but some of the community who already tried the game did that they asked when they were going to try the auto generated stages, then we told they had been for the last hours!

      Not mentioned above is the feature where you run into crashed out competitors on the stage, with the crowd flagging you to slow down. That hasn’t been seen since WRC Evolved in 2005!

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    2. Ok, I see where you’re coming from but: why? If you buy nature basically being one giant algorithm, then any sufficiently complex algorithm can approximate nature to any arbitrary precision within a dynamic haptic feedback system. Right.

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  9. Excellent news.Now all we need is a new TOCA Touring Cars from Codemasters.The BTCC cars in Forza are nice but like the Nascar cars do not race how they race in real life.

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    1. Being positive about something that looks good does not equate to shilling. That stance is fucking gay and you’re fucking gay. Fall over

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      1. So you’re calling James and all of PRC gay? That is their stance to anyone who doesn’t agree with their negative articles on most of the sims.

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  10. The only thing I’m concerned about is the pace notes, because if the editor will be prone to produce mistakes in regards to those, then the whole track generator thing is gonna be useless. They have to go to any lengths to ensure the accuracy of pace notes when the creator does its work.

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    1. agreed,

      it might prove difficult to keep those pace-notes (route-notes as Mr. Coleman called them as to differentiate from what is done in the real world) on par with what they achieved in Dirt Rally. Those call-outs have to be the best in any stage-rally game ever.

      Fortunately, the championship-mode will feature pre-cooked stage-designs – and thus I can imagine they would use their previous technique for those and actually pre-record multiple tracks with a different tone each, switching in-between in relation to what pace you are moving at, creating this illusion of a sentient human riding alongside you, sharing moments of rush and fear alike.

      So this would then leave the tile-based, randomly generated tracks in need of a new automated lego-block system of call-outs. I am sure they had their heads spinning when coming up with a suitable solution.

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        1. So you want to read the same shit over and over again on every damn article?

          Hurrrr durrr simulation valur durrr…

          Yeah, great comments….

          Might aswell bang my head against the wall

          Like

          1. Actually, the comments surprised me by not giving up, sighing away a sad tear of grief until now-ish (your comment not included!) – which is a lot. Granted, I mostly lurk, bc I happen to enjoy games that involve manipulating motorized slabs of machined synthetics and sprung rotating bits of molded metal – and I also happen to be interested in online group dynamics … and this place is a goldmine! But still, most of it I found _not_ batshit crazy for a change 🙂 That was kind of a compliment to the article & commenters, fwiw 🙂

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  11. Yo James can you share your replay/setup/both of your best lap around Trois-Rivières. I want to know how you managed to fuck me by 6 tenths.

    t. Pastor

    Like

  12. Track generators don’t really turn me on , it’s nice don’t get me wrong but usually do lose a fair bit of life and or personality in the process . I am looking forward to how this title will turn out .

    Do we know if they have jumped to the latest ego engine ? One can only assume they have . I think weather will play a large part in this titles longevity .

    Like

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