DIRT 5, it’s fair to say, was worth the wait. The latest in the long-running rally series landed last year and quickly became a favourite among both hardcore petrolheads and those with a taste for more arcadey delights. Marrying the best of sim-like authenticity as well as gloriously enjoyable, accessible racing, arguably the game’s greatest achievement was in its ‘amplified off-road’ world, which brought a new sense of style to the mud-caked genre.
How do you improve upon an already winning formula? In the case of Codemasters and DIRT 5, the answer is to deliver a whole boot-load of incredible new content, set to arrive in the shape of the Red Bull Revolution update. What can players expect from the latest additions to the hi-octane racer? Robert Karp, DIRT 5’s development director, was on hand to give us the rundown.
First, what exactly is the Red Bull Revolution update? A free content update for all DIRT 5 players, it offers players a selection of new Red Bull-emblazoned liveries, for cars including the Peugeot 208 WRX, MINI John Cooper Works Buggy by X-raid and Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi. Karp explains: “The liveries include real-world designs used on cars from DIRT 5’s roster that also competed in the likes of Dakar events and FIA World Rallycross Championships, as well as the official Red Bull Racing Esports liveries, added as an option for the Porsche 911 RGT.”
But it’s not just sharp new liveries that will be made available – players enjoying DIRT 5’s custom arena creator, Playgrounds mode, have even more to look forward to, according to Karp. “We’ve added the official Red Bull arch – which you’ll often see at rallies and various Red Bull events – for players to use however they like in their unique racing arenas. We’re also adding stormy weather conditions to this mode, adding a new challenge to Playgrounds with wet surfaces and less grip.”
Among DIRT 5’s many pleasures is its active, engaged community. After the game’s initial release, Codemasters received requests for new inclusions to the game, which, Karp explains, they were eager to accommodate: “We’re adding community-requested features to give everyone more ways to play. The key addition here is cross-play for all Xbox, PlayStation and PC players, meaning online public multiplayer races will allow players on these platforms to match with anyone. Ghosts have also been added in Time Trial and Playgrounds, utilising DIRT 5’s global leaderboard system to show players relevant target lap times to overcome whilst they’re racing.”
Red Bull and DIRT 5
The update’s Red Bull-specific focus was a no-brainer for Codemasters, with Karp explaining why this was such a perfect fit. “Red Bull’s desire to mix sport and style is something that really appeals to the DIRT 5 team,” he says.
“Whether it’s a race event or otherwise, if you head to a Red Bull sporting event, the culture and the vibe is equally as important as the action you’re witnessing. With DIRT 5, we’re always striving to achieve something similar. Whilst your achievements on the track and the events themselves are important, showing your creativity, style and individuality is also a major aspect of the game.”
He adds that the new Red Bull liveries and Playgrounds arch offers players more ways to show their style, whether that’s through Photo Mode shots using the new designs, or putting together amazing arenas to race around.
As for the choice of the liveries, Karp says: “All of the designs were hand-picked by our team due to their awesome style, and often for their use in major motorsport competitions. For example, it’s very cool to be adding the liveries of both Timmy Hansen’s and Kevin Hansen’s Peugeot 208 WRX from the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Along with real-world liveries, we’ve worked closely with the Red Bull Racing Esports team to bring their official wrap to DIRT 5 on the Porsche 911 RGT. It’s seriously impossible to pick a favourite!”
Karp tells us that, as much as DIRT 5 is about style and creativity, the developers never lost sight of the core racing experience, with the aim of giving players new challenges to take on. This is why ghosts have now been added to Time Trial and Playground.
He adds, “Ghosts for Time Trial and Playgrounds is an important addition, as it opens up a near-endless set of fresh challenges for everyone. In these modes, DIRT 5 will offer up relevant recorded times from your chosen event’s global leaderboard for you to strive to beat. You’ll be able to see their run and figure out where you’re losing and gaining time.”
Another important addition is cross-platform capability – a clear focus for the team, but one that doesn’t come without its difficulties. “Any feature that involves compatibility across multiple platforms will always be a challenge,” Karp explains. “It’s one thing to add cross-platform capability to DIRT 5, but another entirely to ensure it’s a smooth experience for our players, meaning plenty of testing and tweaking has been taking place in recent weeks.”
As for the reasoning behind adding cross-platform play, Karp once again points to the feedback of the players: “We’re talking with our community on a daily basis to see what they’re enjoying, what they want to see improved, and what additions they want for the game. Cross-play and ghosts have both been hot topics since last November, so we very quickly laid out plans to prioritise their development and get them added to DIRT 5 – and here we are!”
The world is your playground
When asked about some of the more interesting things Karp and the team have noticed since the launch of DIRT 5, he points to players attempting to recreate real-world locations and tracks in Playgrounds mode. He continues, “Whether that’s a rallycross circuit, a classic X Games arena, or even supercross routes, some really cool replicas of real locations have made it into Playgrounds. With the addition of the Red Bull arch, I wouldn’t be surprised if tracks from Red Bull events are recreated – how about a downhill run like the Red Bull Soapbox races? That would be brilliant…”
With Karp’s enthusiasm clear, we enquired as to what in the new update excited him the most? Discussing the collaboration with Red Bull, he says, “Tearing up DIRT 5’s stunning global routes and competing hard with other players, whilst donning these new liveries and showing off your style, feels like a vibe that wouldn’t be out of place in a real-world Red Bull event.”
He goes on to say that equally important to the team is adding in more community-requested features, “and continuing our commitment to shaping DIRT 5 around the feedback of our players. Cross-play and ghosts have been regular requests, so we’re very proud to bring those additions to the game for all players.”
What comes next
With DIRT 5 receiving a warm reception upon release last year, we asked Karp about how he has found the journey since then. He describes the pleasure of seeing a variety of gamers dive into DIRT 5 and enjoy it for different reasons, before elaborating; “Long-time DIRT fans, for example, have commented on how the game is a more accessible and off-the-wall approach to off-road racing – a real alternative change of pace to the likes of DiRT Rally 2.0, which is awesome in its hardcore challenge and true-to-life focus.”
He also expresses his enthusiasm around welcoming a huge number of gamers to the DIRT franchise for the first time with DIRT 5. Karp points to the accessibility and variety that the game offers as a key reason it’s attracting players who play racing games a little less often. “Particularly with DIRT 5 recently coming to Xbox Game Pass, we now have a broad spectrum of players enjoying the game. We’re really proud of that,” he says.
Finally, with DIRT 5’s Red Bull Revolution update demonstrating Codemasters’ dedication to providing the most comprehensive experience possible, we asked Karp what would come next for the ace racer. He concludes:
“The beauty of DIRT 5 is that the possibilities for customisation and new experiences mean that players will be finding new things to do for months and years to come. A year from now, the database of online Playgrounds to discover will be even bigger,and cross-play ensures that Online play will be active and lively.
“Plus, we still have some more exciting additions to drop after the Red Bull Revolution Update… but we can’t mention those just yet!”
DIRT 5’s Red Bull Revolution update is out now.