New Dirt 5 Mode Injects Wacky Fun Into the Rally Racer

Dirt 5 is bringing a brand new mode to the table with Playgrounds. Players can build ridiculous courses, upload them, and let the community go wild.

By Ricky Frech

August 27, 2020

Some days you realize that, even as someone who started playing video games back when Duke Nukem was a platformer, we all have blindspots. Until a recent preview event, I was under the impression that the entire Colin McRae Rally franchise was more akin to Forza Motorsport than Horizon. I’m not sure how I’d missed that Codemasters made their own Rally version of Forza Horizon with the Dirt line, but I’m extremely happy to find out how truly dumb I am. Of course, I’m sure many of you knew that before I did anyways.

Moving right along, recently I got to check out one of the new modes coming to Dirt 5 when it launches later this year. Sadly, it wasn’t the new career mode. Instead, I got to dip my toes into the new Playgrounds mode.

From the second I loaded it up, Playgrounds reminded me a lot of Grand Theft Auto Online. Essentially, it’s a course-builder that lets players build their dream tracks and then let the community play them. It’s incredibly colorful and has three different challenge types to provide some variety to what you’re doing.

“Essentially, it’s a course-builder that lets players build their dream tracks.”

The reason I say it reminds me of GTA Online is that the courses often get truly wacky in the same way Rockstar’s game does. These aren’t your typical rally tracks. You’re swerving between school buses, jumping through flaming hoops, and drifting all over the place. Even though there are only a few courses available right now, it’s a ton of fun. And, once the entire community can get in, I expect it will only get better.

The three challenge types on offer are Gymkhana, Smash Attack, and Gate Crasher. From my time with the game, Gate Crasher seems the most prevalent. This is your basic racing gameplay. It’s probably best described as a mix of GTA-like visuals, classic rally gameplay, and a touch of Trackmania. You’re trying to make your way through a course of checkpoints as you move toward the final gate. At the same time, you’re competing on leaderboards to set a high score.

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One of the things that gives the mode some extra spice is there’s no set order for the gates. Most of the time, the designer has a track in mind. Every once in a while though, the course is more of a free for all. Figuring out the puzzle of the best line to set a high score was always a fun one to solve.

The one thing I’d love to see for Gate Crasher would be some form of a ghost car to compare yourself to while on the track. Even if it’s just your best run that you’re racing against, I think it would add a lot to the competitive side of the mode.

“If Dirt 5 can deliver a good career mode, this might overtake Forza Horizon 4 as my racer of choice.”

Gymkhana is more of a trick attack mode. You have a set amount of time to score as many points as you can from jumps, drifts, and various obstacles. I wasn’t as taken with this one, but I can definitely see other players loving the mode.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, Smash Attack stages aren’t quite working in the build. That said, the mode is all about wrecking as much stuff as possible to score points. I’ve always loved blowing stuff up, so I expect to have a ball with this one.

Obviously, we’ll have to wait to see how the other modes pan out. However, if everything else is as fun as Playgrounds, I can’t wait to finally play my first Dirt game. And, if Dirt 5 can deliver a good career mode, this might overtake Forza Horizon 4 as my racer of choice.

Dirt 5 launches October 16 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The game will come to PS5 and Xbox Series X later this year. Then, it comes to Stadia sometime in 2021.

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