Review: Dirt Rally 2.0

Codemasters is back again with another racing title and this time it’s the follow up to the amazing Dirt Rally. Version 2.0 as you’d expect is improved as we’re now 4 years on from the original.

Personally I was a big fan of the original game, so it’s sequel has a lot to live up to. The game now has severely better hardware to rely on in the form of updated consoles (Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro) as well as the latest in GPU technology.

While the game can be played with a controller, or even keyboard and mouse (please don’t), it’s best enjoyed in a racing sim setup, with a wheel and pedals that can help trick your brain into thinking your in one of 50 rally cars, racing at top speed around a tracks in Rallycross or dodging trees in rally stage events.

In terms of difficulty, Rally is hard, so appropriately Codemaster’s made the game hard (like the original). While this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, those who enjoy the reality of the challenge will find a successful run, all that much more rewarding.

Now it’s time to get stuck into the gameplay, graphics and full review.

When you load up Dirt Rally 2, you’ll be greeted with a main menu that lets you have at plenty of options, right out of the gate. Naturally in the career mode, you’ll start with the budget models from lower class, lower performant rally categories. As you progress through different events, you ride the very familiar credit system.

These credits can be put towards vehicle upgrades, or even better team members. There is definitely a bit of a grind to this, but if you love the challenge of rally racing, this won’t be too bad. If you need to take a break, head to the Freeplay tab on the homescreen and you can create custom events or even take time trials to see how you compare against the clock. There’s also historic and the FIA World Rallycross Championship to play with, all offering dozens of hours of racing to entertain you and provide better value for money.

When you’re ready to Race again, head back to the MyTeam tab and you’ll choose between Career Rally and Career Rallycross. The game also offers daily and weekly challenges where you’ll compete against the world for the best times in specific vehicle classes on specific courses. Those who’ve played Forza will definitely find these familiar and if you want to know where you’re driving skills are at, then these are a great option.

As you race, you’ll inevitably damage your vehicle and need to repair it, but the game isn’t just about break/fix, it’s also about upgrades. In preparing your vehicle for each stage, you have the chance to purchase Engine upgrades to increase performance, while tuning, clutch and suspension upgrades are also available if you have the credits. It’s always a hard decision when it comes to upgrading your existing car, or saving for a brand new one that comes with better performance from the factory. There’s no perfect answer, other than to watch to see if your results drop off and then consider an upgrade to help you compete.


What’s really on offer here?

The game allows those of who love to race, an opportunity to race a selection of iconic rally locations from across the globe like New Zealand, Argentina, Spain, Poland, the USA and yes, even real, Australian stages.

While the game is seriously enjoyable, it’s the diversity of features that’ll have you coming back for months. The racing tests your abilities as a gamer and a driver, it’s incredibly challenging in places and forces you to rely on your instincts, to be fully immersed with no distractions or you’ll pay the heavy consequences.

Dirt Rally 2.0 is focused off-road experience, combining a new authentic handling model and new surface deformation which dynamically changes the road surface based on how many cars have been down it before you.

Having the official FIA tick of approval means you get to race real World Rallycross championship cars with the real names, logos, vehicle manufacturers etc.

Now for the full list of features:

The game features a roster of historic and modern-day rally cars, in fact, there’s more than 50 of them to choose from including favourites like the VW Polo GTI R5, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X & Citroen C3 R5. You can even climb behind the wheel of crazy cars like the Chevrolet Camaro GTR.4.

Racing environments include both tracks for Rallycross and point to point stages for traditional rally events, these feature a number of surface types, can be day or night and also dry or raining. They feature New Zealand, Argentina, Spain, Poland, Australia and the USA.

Improved handling, surfaces, fallibility and environments deliver the most authentic and focused off-road experience ever.

Race at Barcelona, Montalegre, Mettet, Lohéac Bretagne, Trois-Rivieres, Hell, Holjes and Silverstone in a multitude of different series.

Create a team, hire your staff and expand your garage of vehicles as you choose.

Tune your vehicle to suit your driving style and environmental characteristics. Alleviate wear and tear by configuring each car’s set-up, and upgrade your parts to ensure your vehicles are ready for whatever challenge lies ahead.

Race the entire DiRT Community in Daily, Weekly and Monthly Challenges, with worldwide leaderboards and events.


Not everything’s perfect

No VR support.

The game has no VR support and while that disappointing for a racing game it’s particularly disappointing given Dirt Rally 1 did. As someone who’s invested in an Oculus Rift, I love racing in VR, it’s actually one of the best applications for the technology, even if the resolution still has a long way to go.

The immersion you feel in VR is like no other, you literally feel like you’re inside the vehicle, instead of looking at a display and pretending you can’t see anything above and beyond it in your peripheral vision (you can, even if you tune it out).

The great news is that developers Codemasters have already heard the cry from the community and have announced VR support is something they’re currently working on. While that’s a positive move, that was a fairly predictable response, so the lack of support at launch is a little head scratching.


There are times when the game looks phenomenal, particularly when racing through stages with forest segments and the solar flares shining through, it’s really quite beautiful. Then, there’s the other times, where this game looks like it was built a couple of years ago. Despite having a GTX1080 and everything on max, the game often features low-poly, low textured elements of the environment. Sure you’re usually flying past it at 130km/hr so it’s a blur, but those slow corners, or in the event of a crash where you stop, it really is noticeable and for a game that ships in 2019, it doesn’t come close to something like Horizon 4 which is breathtakingly beautiful.


How much and when can you get it?

Dirt Rally 2.0 is available from February 26th, 2019. The game is available on Xbox, PS4, and PC via Steam. There’s already a v1.1 available with bug fixes.

You can pick it up for A$89 on the Xbox One and there’s a Day One edition that features the following bonus vehicles.

  • Porsche 911 RGT Rally Spec
  • Fiat 131 Abarth Rally
  • Alpine Renault A110 1600 S

It’s available for the same price for the PS4 from JB Hi-Fi. If you’re after the PC version, then you can grab it via Steam for A$84.95.


Final thoughts

Codemaster’s are pro’s when it comes to making racing games, so the expectation of value for money and overall enjoyment factor is right up there with Dirt Rally 2.0. The game takes what Dirt 1.0 did and builds on it, improving it and making it feel exciting again to drive.

While the graphics certainly don’t offer that ‘OMG’ moment when you first fire up the game, the more important thing is can you have fun, for hours, to make you feel like you got great value for money. The answer to that is a massive yes, making the game an absolute success.

The game supports a long list of wheels and pedals and if you’re halfway serious about racing, you’ll pony up the cash and buy some (I have the Logitech G920 on a Next Level Racing GT Track racing sim). If you’re more hardcore, you’ll already have some and this game makes great use of them, providing fairly fine grained controls over your inputs to get the setup just the way you like it.

We’ve already seen the developers listening to the community on things like VR support, so expect plenty of updates over the coming months to take what is a great game right now and make it even better.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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