It's been quite a year for Codemasters. Not content with just getting F1 2015 – the official Formula 1 video game – out of the door, the British developer has also been getting down and dirty with DiRT Rally, a much more realistic and challenging type of racer than we've ever seen before.
Praised for its realism, difficulty and attention to detail, Codemasters has been working on the game non-stop since it first launched on Steam Early Access in late April, and now it's ready for its next big leap. With plenty of updates and feedback from the community since it was available to download, Codemasters and publisher Koch Media have joined forces to finally fully launch the full game on PC today, as well as Xbox One and PlayStation 4 next April.
That's not all though, as today also marks the launch of the Winter Wonderland update for Early Access players, which brings in new stages set in the snowy Varmland region of Sweden, as well as two brand new cars in the form of the Hyundai Rally and the Volkswagen Polo Rally, and Steam Workshop support.
Alongside two exclusive screenshots of the game seen below, we had a quick chat with senior games designer Darren Hayward about the new console launch, and what to expect when it lands next year.
Hi guys, fantastic news about DiRT Rally hitting consoles! What made you think now is the right time to launch the game on consoles? Did you get to a point with the PC build where you thought it was ready for console gamers to play around with?
Hayward: Hi! Thanks, it’s great to be able to talk about it. Up to this point, we've concentrated on getting the PC version to a place where we and the rest of the DiRT community are happy. This game is a new direction for us, so there have been certain aspects that we wanted to test the water with. It would have been very difficult to get it right out of the box, so Steam Early Access was the perfect platform in that it allowed us to rapidly build on and improve all aspects of the game and deliver it to players directly. Having almost instantaneous feedback on new features has been incredibly valuable for us, and hopefully everyone that joined us on this journey has enjoyed being a part of it.
Now that we're coming to the end of Early Access it makes perfect sense to start talking about bringing DiRT Rally to a wider audience.
Have you had to tinker with the handling and steering (along with force feedback) to cater more for console gamers, and how accessible will the game be for fresh console gamers?
We haven't tinkered with anything. The handling, controls, cameras and force feedback is completely unchanged, and we're aiming for 60fps on all platforms. For fresh players, we've developed a detailed set of tutorial videos that cover all aspects of driving a rally car. We want to teach players how to handle our cars, rather than making things easier.
What's been the most challenging aspect of bringing the game to console?
Both the PS4 and Xbox One have their own unique sets of features, and we want DiRT Rally to be the best it can be on both platforms. We're pushing ourselves to make sure we get the best out of each console, so we'll be making sure that things like PS Vita Remote Play and Xbox One Challenges are complementing the game in the best way possible.
Do you think console gamers are a particularly different audience to PC gamers, when it comes to bringing a rally sim to new platforms?
I don't think it's a case of being different, more that the console audience is much broader. There are players with PS4s and Xbox Ones that are at the same level as their counterparts on PC, and those are the players that we want to see competing in DiRT Rally. The trick comes in accommodating players that are less familiar with the challenges of driving a rally car.
The game is already balanced to start you in the slower cars like the Mini Cooper S first, with the faster top level cars unlocking as you become more proficient. In conjunction with the new tutorials, we're hoping to welcome as many new players as possible.
What are the major differences between the PC and console versions?
I'll only be playing on console! Joking aside, we're aiming for full platform parity. Game modes, cars, and tracks, are all available on all platforms.
What's next after console launch? Will you still be supporting the PC version, and then bringing those updates to console at a later date?
Once we've got DiRT Rally on the shelves on all platforms, we'll start looking ahead to what we do next. We've learned a lot about what players want and we've learned a lot about ourselves. The next step will be working out the best way to deliver our next set of experiences. This isn't the end of the road. We'll still be listening to players on both PC and console.
DiRT Rally drifts onto Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on April 5, 2016.