Everything Wrong with DiRT 4 – And How to Fix It

One week after being released out into the wild, there’s quite a mixed reaction surrounding Codemasters DiRT 4. While the game itself lives up to the previous level of quality set by earlier entries and spin-offs in the DiRT franchise, for every satisfied sim racer giddy at the prospect of limitless point-to-point rally stages and lighthearted team management aspects that strive to give meaning to your on-track conquests, there’s an equally disappointed customer prowling the forums, wishing Codemasters had put just a bit more time into the title. While DiRT 4 is still a phenomenal game and very well worth the $60 asking price for those needing a dose of virtual off-roading in their vidya library, Codemasters objectively dropped the ball in many key areas, and those unhappy with the experience are making some very valid arguments as to why this game could have and most certainly should have been so much better.

So to give sim racers who were underwhelmed by DiRT 4 a bit of a voice to support their collective arguments rather than allowing them to being dismissed on the various forms in which they discuss them, in today’s article we’re going to cover all of the elements Codemasters didn’t get right in their most recent racing simulator, and how they could improve upon them with post-release updates. With these reasonable fixes, Codemasters could easily morph DiRT 4 into what we’d all envisioned on paper, rather than remain in an “almost, but not quite” status until the inevitable forthcoming sequel.

Codemasters were dealt a very shitty hand after Milestone and Kylotonn both managed to snatch up semi-exclusive licenses for certain Citroen’s, Toyota’s, and the top tier WRC spec cars for their respective multi-platform rally titles. As a result of these licensing deals, DiRT 4’s car roster is equivalent to a slice of swiss cheese; the more classes you explore, the more holes you find in the car roster. The modern rally side of the game awkwardly tries to push the R5 class as it’s premiere professional category due to the absence of WRC rides, with the N4 production class that most entry level drivers will flock to features just two cars – Subaru’s brand new Impreza, as well as Mitsubishi’s latest iteration of the Lancer Evo X. While I can understand licensing restrictions preventing the high-flying WRC lineup from making an appearance – and therefore can’t really knock Codemasters in this department – it’s the lack of diversity in the classes that are featured that hurts DiRT 4 the most, and it’s an area that Codemasters should have had enough foresight to make the appropriate adjustments long before the title launched.

Given how much time sim racers will spend ripping around in both the N4 and R5 divisions, Codemasters should really make an effort to expand both of these classes to feature either older cars, or additional cars from manufacturers they already have a license for. The Open class division in real life – a sort of quasi-equivalent to N4 – features several older models of the Subaru Impreza, Mitsubishi Lancer, and Ford Fiesta, and considering how Codemasters already created these models for older DiRT games, they should really make a return as downloadable content for DiRT 4 to give some much needed-variety to the popular sportsman N4 category, in the same manner which tarmac developers would create semi-fake Ruf GT3 cars to expand their GT3 vehicle roster. Codemasters also feature vehicles from both Opel and Citroen elsewhere on the roster, so it’s strange the R5 variants of these cars aren’t present. I don’t think it’s necessary for Codemasters to pursue attaining all listed vehicles from the Group R wikipedia page, but the car roster in otherwise popular classes is severely hurting, and bringing back either legacy models from past DiRT games, or acquiring R5 spec entries from manufacturers they’re already on good terms with would be the easiest fix.

Next, I’d like to talk about the environment selection in DiRT 4. On paper the game has a pretty solid variety of race types and locations, but when isolated into their own specific realm, sim racers are left with four distinct race types that quickly become repetitive. The Monster Energy World Rallycross tier in career mode boasts just five circuits while Landrush comes in at a laughable three, and the Global Rally Series that adorns the cover artwork only visits a mere five countries – hardly a global championship, especially considering we never visit South America, or Asia. While the game’s procedural generation-powered point-to-point rallies dubbed Your Stage can quickly become repetitive, Your Stage isn’t DiRT 4’s specific problem; the issue is that there are so few environments, you’re racing championship after championship in Australia, Michigan, and Wales for the entire first half of career, so of course, you’re going to notice the same puzzle pieces that make up each track if you can spend three straight championships never leaving Wales.

The fix here varies from discipline to discipline. I feel the technology behind Your Stage works well enough where Codemasters shouldn’t need to worry about adding more chunks to each environment, they simply need more environments period. Three new environments – one tropical island, one alpine region, and one sahara desert – would be enough to give the game a “global” rally feel while straying far enough from the WRC license and providing some kind of proper contrast to what are otherwise very traditional rally stage layouts and environments. On the Rallycross and Landrush side of the title, once again I’d like to see legacy content from DiRT 2 and DiRT 3 make a return considering many of the layouts seen in Monaco, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and Baja, California were instant classics at the time of release, and there’s really no reason not to have them sitting on a hard drive at Codemasters HQ when their newest game is in desperate need of content.

I think for me personally, the biggest shock I received while playing DiRT 4 was discovering the length of the outlandishly short single player career mode. Within an hour of ripping off the plastic, the Landrush World Championship video had been unlocked, and by the middle of the following afternoon, I’d also conquered the 30-stage Global Rally Series tournament at the end of the rally ladder as well. DiRT 4 is criminally short regardless of what off-roading discipline you choose to specialize in, to the point where you’ll quickly find yourself replaying career events out of boredom for supplementary income and to further develop both your team and sponsorship prospects.

This one is probably the easiest fix suggested in the article; when the inevitable downloadable content wave hits, Codemasters need to insert additional events into each of the four primary Career ladders – which would go hand-in hand with the suggestion above regarding both more closed circuits, as well as more point to point environments being released as DLC. Codemasters have built a very stellar team management aspect into DiRT 4, but it’s possible to hit the finish line long before you’ve fully upgraded your team or wanted to put the title down. Considering online races don’t appear to count towards the day to day operations of your virtual racing entity, the ability to partake in more events would justify the team management features and how so much of the offline career mode revolves around finite sponsorships and team member contracts with a tangible expiration date.

What I’m getting at with the three suggestions above, is one can see everything DiRT 4 has to offer far too quickly, and there needs to be more for sim racers to do within the title given the game’s fantastic level of polish. People want to keep playing DiRT 4, but currently there isn’t a lot there after the initial day or two spent indulging in the title. More cars in popular classes, three new rally environments, and a cast of fan-favorite Rallycross & Landrush locales, plus a platter of new career events to make use of the aforementioned additional content, would keep people playing long after release.

I was pretty surprised that after DiRT Rally offered a Master level difficulty that made you truly nail each stage for a top time, the Tough option in DiRT 4 saw you leading sole stages by upwards of ten seconds, requiring you to merely keep the car in one piece for a championship victory in the latter stages of career. I’ve seen some argue that people are blowing out the AI due to infinite restarts and a platter of driving assists enabled, but I personally completed the final championship in the rally ladder with the restart option at zero for that sweet 95% winnings bonus, and the AI were simply never a threat in the slightest. This extends to the closed circuit ladders as well; the CrossKart AI is woefully off-pace, to the point where I was able to lap them with a lap or two spare, in heat races on tracks with basically two or three corners nonetheless.

I also noticed that Codemasters seemed to be self-aware of their AI not being fully up to par in DiRT 4, with the team throwing inclement weather at you in basically every event near the end of each ladder to artificially jack up the difficulty. Look, it’s cool that they’ve done a good job modeling every type of weather condition possible for DiRT 4, but the amount in which it occurs in the back half of campaign mode is just silly. You can’t honestly tell me the entire WRC or Rally America calendars are contested at night, in dense fog, or in heavy downpour scenarios, because that’s just not how mother nature works.

The fix for these issues is pretty simple; re-introduce the Master difficulty as was seen in DiRT Rally, and release a title update that clears up the weather just a tad for the penultimate events. I don’t think either of these are too much to ask for. The fog effects are great, as is the rain splatter on the windshield, but currently it’s to the point where Codemasters are clearly using it as a cheap tactic to increase the difficulty of the game.

Of course, who could forget the most controversial part of DiRT 4, the vehicle physics?

Look, DiRT 4 is without a doubt the easiest game in the entire franchise in terms of difficulty in piloting the car at maximum or near-maximum attack – you have so much grip, it always feels as if you can’t go fast enough, which is very strange considering rally driving in general is about underdriving the car and curbing your desire to push & take corners too quickly. Originally in my review of the game I claimed this was strictly limited to the modern class cars, but as I’ve explored more of DiRT 4, I have to come out and confirm that this extends to basically everything on the point to point roster aside from the Group B class. The amount of grip you have at any given time in this game is insane, with the big, lazy, arching slides of Richard Burns Rally and DiRT Rally virtually impossible to reproduce here; the vehicle instead awkwardly stalling out and losing forward momentum. Unlike what the Codemasters promotional material proclaimed, we certainly did not receive “DiRT Rally, but better” – these are rally tires so technologically advanced, they won’t be made available to professional teams until 2027 at the earliest.

So what’s wrong, exactly?

Take the BMW M3 E30 that’s part of the rear wheel drive 1980’s class. This car was awesome in DiRT Rally, as your throttle input dictated how sideways you wanted the car to be, and you navigated some of the more intense rhythm sections by rotating the rear end around purely via throttle management. Not only is this how you’re supposed to drive a rear wheel drive rally car, it’s how I drive my truck during snow storms here in Edmonton, and it’s how Dustin taught me to drive our late model. This isn’t a technique limited to one Codemasters game released in 2015, it’s a driving skill that’s universal to rear wheel drive vehicles.

In DiRT 4, rolling onto the throttle to try and rotate the ass end of the BMW M3 E30 on a gravel stage instead produces this weird understeer effect. It’s like the rear tires have such enormous forward bite and lateral grip, it manages to overpower the front end of the car and understeer like a stock car with a worn right front tire. Strangely enough, this behavior isn’t present on the tarmac stages in Spain, so I’m under the belief Codemasters simply need to revert to a previous iteration of gravel tires – something I encourage owners of the PC version to experiment with ahead of time if the file structure between DiRT Rally and DiRT 4 is found to be even remotely similar.

If Codemasters are willing to fix the gravel tire behavior – provided it wasn’t a conscience design choice made to help the normies pilot a rally car, but a genuine oops on their part – I think a lot of people will continue to invest long hours into DiRT 4 in spite of the shortcomings listed above. However, if Codemasters intentionally botched the gravel tires to accommodate entry level users not well-versed in the art of chucking a rally car sideways at 150 km/h, the rest of the issues and possible solutions outlined in this article are a solid way to ensure people don’t toss aside DiRT 4 after a month of casual play.

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56 thoughts on “Everything Wrong with DiRT 4 – And How to Fix It

  1. I guess I should read the whole article.

    But I reached the point where an N4 Fiesta was mentioned. Which is a car that doesn’t exist. No R4 Fiesta either. I know. No mention of R4 Fiesta. But it cant been a typo. In reality. N4 and R4 have been Impreza and Lancer since the last Cosworth left in the 90’s. I dont count the Proton. That was a Lancer.

    Then that was followed by the brilliant complaint about the R5 Opel. A car that was unveiled in Portugal. In the second half of May 2017. Not even sure it will be used.
    Again. May 2017. Why not mention the Proton Iriz as well… that was unveiled 2 days before…

    If these easy facts are wrong. I wont bother with the rest.

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    1. Yeah I realize the R4/NR4 class as it’s listed on Wikipedia is just the Lancer Evo X and the new Impreza.

      No harm in putting in semi-fictional older Impreza’s, Lancers, and Fiesta’s to flesh out the class as DLC. It’s not like they’re using an official rally sanctioning body for the game’s rally events.

      iRacing of all teams were putting out fake Ruf GT3 cars and nobody seemed to mind; could do the same here.

      Ditto for the R5 content. Yeah the Opel was announced in May 2017. That’s great. Put it out as DLC down the line.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Master difficulty is easy tho.

    As for the balance thing, have you tried adjusting the diff especially ? A teammate of mine told me base sets are absolute dogshit.

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  3. One of my biggest fears in life is that, due to negative karma, I end up being reincarnated as a cat in mainland China. Ching-Chongs from Chong-Ching Land are cruel to all animals, of course, but they seem to have a particular contempt for cats.

    For this reason, I try to accumulate as much positive karma as possible, mostly by advocating for the extermination of the Jewish race.

    Until I visited China for myself, I assumed that Donald Trump was exaggerating when he called the Chinese “a race of soulless automatons that look like gray aliens painted yellow.”

    (He has since deleted the Tweet.)

    Once I spent time there, however, I realized he was right. There’s something about these people, including the way that they treat animals, that suggests they’re a different species from Whites.

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      1. Because the filthy Jews have ruined sim racing. Jews where the ones who sabotaged Project Cars, they hijacked the code and hacked up the perfect sim that we the WMD army created. All hail Ian Bell, the great savior of sim racing and the destroyer of Jews, Niggers, Gooks, Spicks and all other filth.

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  4. There is a difficulty after Tough, you just need to unlock it. IIRC it’s called “Brutal” or something like that.

    Like

  5. The surprise for me was always that Dirt:rally turned out to be a partially decent game, I have no idea why anyone is surprised that shitmasters went back to their normal crap with Dirt 4. Just as I will not be surprised when Project Cars 2 turns out to be just as broken as the first one.

    Like

  6. It is simply an obvious fact that if you allow non-Whites to continue breeding out of control, they are going to destroy absolutely everything. Not just the entirety of human civilization, but the planet itself.

    The environmental crisis has largely dropped-out of public discussion in recent years, due to the fact that “overpopulation” is a Black and brown phenomenon, and when you talk about “reducing the world’s population,” it comes very, very close to meeting the current definition of “racism.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sim racing will be great again, once Ian Bell rids the community of all the filthy sub-humans that have plagued it from the start.

        Like

  7. Dirt rally handles so much better proper rallying. It looks nicer as well. Actual wrc stages. Bought d4 now it’s gone.

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  8. Your stage absolutely does need more “chunks”. A lot more chunks at least 10 times more. It not only repeats the same chunks several times in the same stage, it often repeats them in the same order. This feature is a parody. Somehow crapmasters managed to take a good idea and turn it into crap. This game has even less track content than the previous title that barely had enough track content for one stage per location.

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  9. Will keep playing my pirated version till they fix the shit, dumbed-down gamepad-oriented handling. So…How the fuck did they screw this up so bad when they already had Dirt Rally feeling pretty good (aside from tarmac)?
    One tip: Disable soft lock on a lot of the cars (which means you’ll have 900 deg steering). Seems like it eliminates some of the understeer. No idea why. I didn’t code the fucking thing.
    Or go back to playing Dirt Rally. That’s also effective.

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    1. Hello kondor.

      Soft lock changes lock to match what the car actually have. No extra understeer. You need to do more work on the wheel.

      Like

  10. The new handling quirks don’t bother me nearly as much as the obvious game bugs and oversights in the menus. Selecting ‘vehicles’ when you’re in career mode, then exiting out of vehicles puts you at the main menu. Why?

    Then there’s the dumb shit like the game’s video resolution resetting if you alt+tab out. Fucking LOL. How did this get through playtesting? Or how the replay controls are a complete abomination. Who needs the speed up/slow down buttons when you could do that already? Can’t even look around the vehicle during replay without the replay speed getting changed. Can’t remap menu buttons either.

    Maybe this clear lack of PC refinement explains why all the early footage was filmed on consoles. And to think Codemasters used a bunch of their dopey forum monkeys for input and playtesting since like November.

    Like

  11. This isn’t you representing a few ignored dissenting voices as often is the case, this is you repeating the same tired message of a handful of snobbish simracing experts.

    There are a number of inconsistencies in this article that suggest you are making a lot of this up. For example you claim to have completed the career in record time yet didn’t know about the unlockable difficulty level for an AI you walked all over. I call bs on this article. Pcars2 has reportedly iffy rally cross so you are knocking the completion, big deal. Just adding up the best total stage times makes a no sense of your limited content claims. You may have unlimited time but I’ll bet the majority never even complete the main career.

    Time to get off this hobby horse, DiRT 4 is a decent rally game not a broken mess like pcars or AC at launch on console.

    Now where is your article on Kunos’s failure to update the Xbox version of AC once again. That article should set the comments section alight once more.

    Like

    1. Where’s the article congratulating Kunos for delivering the PS4 update last month and talking about the things in it? Ah I know how this blog is. Massacre when they don’t do and ignore when they do because it doesn’t matter. So what’s the point of even listening to this blog? None, if I may say. The only people that matter listening for any devs are the ones giving feedback in their forums and a few other discussion boards.

      Like

        1. Kunos are clueless. They’ve basically served MS a huge steaming turd of an update , MS have said “WTF is this crap?” and now Kunos are sat wanking over their tyre model still deluded that they’ve actually brought anything of any worth to the racing sim genre, claiming the Xbox update is out of their hands. Over their heads more like. Rank amateurism. They really do take the piss out of their customer base. The game will finally be given the funeral it needs in September when PC2 is released.

          Put things in perspective, in my local game store today:
          Forza 6 -used copy £25
          PCars – used copy £18
          Assetto Corsa – NEW £14.99

          Tells you all you need to know.

          Like

  12. Third world countries lack the ability to maintain complex infrastructure primarily due to the racial make up of its population. If you take a look at former European colonies which turned over control of its infrastructure to the natives, none of them were able to maintain it at the same standard. Often times, the infrastructure fell into ruin.

    In the United States, one only has to look at Detroit as an example. In the mid part of the 20th century it was considered to be one of the most modern cities in the country. After Blacks took over the city, it slowly transformed into a third world hell hole.

    Like

    1. There’s nothing to do with race, since humans are just one. There’s to do with the culture developed in countries and in continents over the centuries or millenniums. If those countries or even cities don’t receive knowledge, discoveries, technology from outside, and remain closed on themselves, then any meaningful progress will be hard. There’s also the problem of resources and climate but above those exists the culture of a country or territory. So either that specific culture is very smart and resourceful or then it necessarily needs a lot of importing and exporting of technology, knowledge, life quality from better developed territories. Corruption, little freedom, abuses to its own people are anti factors of good progress.

      Even if Detroit was a super city a 100 years ago, the lack of good (free access) education not given to all the people in Detroit no matter the skin color, religion, and gender contributed to its poverty. Then once all the knowledgeable people move out, the ones that stay for sure won’t be capable of sustaining its glorious days since little or nothing from all the good knowledge achieved was shared with Detroit’s population. Even if a specific culture “invaded” Detroit, unfortunately it was one that didn’t posses good and high level education, which in itself contributed against the city’s development. However the city’s educational system also wasn’t capable of forming good and knowledge people from any cultural background, so when the knowledgeable left there was no continuation of that ongoing progress.

      But if the masses of Afro-American moved to Detroit in the mid part of the 20th century, it was the fault of the rich people that previously didn’t give access to afro-americans and women to the same education as the “white” culture. Fortunately since then there are equal rights and freedom for everyone, but many bad schools remain in many US cities.

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      1. I know you are joking, but sadly a lot of White people still cling to this belief. They just can’t accept that Blacks have lower IQ. It just wouldn’t be fair if that was the case…

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        1. What about later generations of African who live and study in developed countries. Aren’t their IQ as high as of any other normal citizen?

          Like

  13. DiRT 4 is not bad, but its issues are unfixable. Will have to wait for at least DiRT 5, probably even longer, until Shitmasters finally get it right (not even perfect, just not wrong). What hurts the most is that most points have been implemented much better in the past, either by Codemasters themselves, or by other rally game devs.

    >tiny, fragmented car groups
    Better make cars upgradable and customizable, so you can have the same car in a stock configuration and enter into group N classes. Or shed the interior panels, upgrade the suspension and transmission and enter group A instead (or however rally cars are classified nowadays).

    So you don’t classify the whole model to one group, but the specific configuration of a car based on engine size, and whatever else the classification is based on.

    >cool that they’ve done a good job modeling every type of weather condition possible for DiRT 4
    Too bad the variety of conditions is comparable to a 1996 game. And the fact that there are no mixed road surfaces only reduces the amount of possible conditions.

    By 2017 I would expect dynamic seasons, affecting stuff like temperatures, dew points, amount of sunlight, precipitation, speed of surface drying, etc. But there isn’t even proper gravel surface simulation. It behaves just like tarmac with different numeric values for grip levels. It’s otherwise a completely solid surface.

    >just add more environments
    That would help maybe for an hour of gameplay, then it would get repetitive again. As mentioned in another comment – just adding more “worlds” does not help in variety. You also run out of environments fast this way. Instead, each environment should be internally much more varied.

    Also you skipped other issues like crashing your car still being very unpenalizing. You can crash into something head-on, do a double backflip or barrel roll and still win a stage on Tough difficulty.

    Or the game missing something as fundamental as tire choice.

    And all this is still not everything wrong with the game.

    Like

    1. I actually like your idea of “buy showroom car, modify to class rules”
      But yeah, was disappointed in damage in dirt rally too.

      They have arcade and sim, should’ve had 3, arcade, simcade, and sim, because the sim more is still a casualfest

      Like

  14. Game has it flaws like any other game, so your advice to “fix” it is not a settings thing its more like a hint for the developers to listen to your expertise and change the game accordingly to make it good or as you think it would be good, luckily you are in no way being a bit conceited here, also nice to see you became kind of humble over time and more distanced not weighting your own opinion in too high regards….really pleasantly surprised of ya

    Like

  15. Hmm, it’s been 3 days since the last article, did James go to E3 or sumthin? Ever since I started following this blog half a year ago I don’t remember a break this long.

    Like

  16. Its so nice, really… when we discussed here WRC5 and people cried about “arcade”, “too slow” or “too fast”, and allof them called Dirt Rally from heavens… would anybody can think, that for the ends of all codies will make Dirt 4 with WRC5 handling model, although a bit improved? So, dear friends, life solves and tell us, who was right. DR developers occur… not helpless. They demonstrated abilities for criticism analysing, errors finding and fixing. They read well my epic texts “To Rejoice Of Sectarians” and ” DR: from FAKE simulator to a glamour hell” – and they realized the matter! They invited professionals (Solberg, as I know), and they said them, who is right and where we see TRUE rally physics. Its really funny to watch now, how confused now fans and reviewers, for two years played FAKE simulator and hymned it!…

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  17. I don’t get it.. Everyone says grip is insane while I slide all over the place like a fucking drunk hobo… I don’t know what setting you have there but my cars do not go in line they bump, jump, move everywhere and slide like on ice.

    Like

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