For American audiences, the concept of rallycross might be a bit new: it's only caught on in the States within the past decade. In Europe however, particularly in Sweden and Norway, or in Great Britain, rallycross has an long established tradition.
Founded at the famous Lydden Hill Race Circuit in Kent, England in 1967, rallycross is a closed, short circuit race with anywhere from three or six cars jockeying for position. It's fast-paced, high-risk fun on a hybrid track that's composed of paved and unpaved surface.
Dirt Rally 2.0 is an officially licensed FIA World Rallycross Championship game. The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, which organises the real-life series, is also responsible for organising Formula One and the World Endurance Championship. The gameplay reflects the FIA's attention to detail, and aims to be as reflective of reality as possible. This is more accurately a simulator in addition to a game.
Dirt Rally 2.0 features four different classes of rallycross cars: RX2, RX Super 1600s, RX Crosskarts, and Supercars. It also includes eight different tracks from the 2018 championship: Mettet in Belgium, Trois Rivieres in Canada, Silverstone in England, France's Loheac Bretagne, Hell in Norway, Portugal's Montalegre, Spain's Circuit De Barcelona-Catalunya, and the world-famous Holjes track in Sweden.
The real 2018 series had 12 rounds, and the developers intend to add more tracks via DLC. Compare this to the first Dirt Rally, which only had three rallycross tracks, and you can see that Dirt Rally 2.0 is prioritising rallycross play far beyond a mere diversion.
There's no hand-holding in this game, though. There's no tutorial, no guidance through what would be, to the casual racing game fan, an intimidating and daunting experience. So, here are some rallycross tips to help you get started.
1. Don't fight with the AI
Part of rallycross's fun is the survival-of-the-fittest fight over position, especially at the start of each race. As a beginner, though, it's rarely, if ever, worth it to get into confrontations with the AI opponents. They're better at it than you, for one, and the slightest love tap can send your vehicle into the wall. Once that happens, you've already lost.
Also, in the qualifying rounds, your personal time is more important than whether you're beating your preliminary opponents. Focus on hitting the corners, launching quickly, and racing consistently. These are the things that will actually improve your performance in the long-term.
2. Lower your suspension
Before the race, go into the Tune Vehicle menu and adjust your car's Springs. You're looking to improve your car's handling performance, so reduce your car's front and rear ride height, which will result in its center of gravity sitting closer to the ground.
A firm spring rate and and firm anti-roll bar will also improve the car's stability. Make sure to adjust your settings symmetrically, don't make the ride height different on the front versus the back. This will unbalance the car and increase the risk of a crash.
3. Consider switching to third person
You always want to race in 'clean air' that's free from the turbulence of any cars in front of you. Inevitably, though, you'll find yourself directly behind a car, and not only is this going to make control more difficult, but it's also going to affect your visibility. The car in front is going to kick up dust and mud directly onto your windshield, making it difficult to negotiate a hairpin turn. Windshield wipers can't do it all.
The default setting for Dirt Rally 2.0 is a first person point of view from the driver's perspective. You might want to consider playing in third person instead. Go to the options menu and check your control settings to figure out how to toggle the perspective for your platform. This will solve a lot of the visibility problems. You can also see all the way around your car in third person, allowing you to react defensively to cars that sidle up alongside, or approach you from behind,
The drawbacks to third person perspective is that it's less intense, and it decreases the 1:1 response between your movements and the car's. This might be a fair trade if you're still learning the track, though.
4. Adjust your gear ratios
This is another adjustment to make in the Tune Vehicle menu. Go to Gearing, and your ratios for gears 1 through 6 should be progressively 'longer'. Overall however you want a 'short' gearbox, which favours acceleration over top speed. Rallycross is so twisty that you're rarely going to max out your car's top speed anyway. The most important thing you need is excellent recovery coming out of turns, and short ratios will provide that.
5. Take the joker lap as late as possible
One of the laps you must take in rallycross is the 'joker lap', a longer, alternate path that branches off, and then returns to the main lap. You and your opponents get to choose when to take this lap, so do so strategically.
If you fall behind early and you're driving in 'dirty air', then take the joker lap early. It'll allow you to run in 'clean air', and even though it'll cause you to drop a little further behind, everyone in the race will eventually have to take the joker lap, and you'll get that time back later.
What if you're out in front, though? Then put off taking the joker lap for as long as you can, and take the joker lap on your last lap if possible. Continue to build your lead, and if you get out ahead far enough, you won't risk falling behind when the joker lap slows you down.