The Dirt series has always been one of my favourites when it comes to racers, a wonderful blend of high-intensity racing with arcade sensibilities that keep it from being too overwhelming while maintaining tight gameplay for the more competitive and serious folk. Dirt 5 looks to continue with the same identity, but is ramping it into overdrive with the new Playgrounds mode, allowing users to create and share their own courses for others to muck around with online. We’ve had the opportunity to test this mode out, and it bodes well for the games release later this year, bringing a new creative energy.
As I said, Playgrounds allows players to design, create, edit and race on custom arenas and instantly share them online. There are a variety of objects you can use, including bumps, ramps, loops, tunnels, and even rings of fire. Starting with a blank canvas, you can choose from different game modes to create the course of your dreams (or nightmares). Gate Crasher is a checkpoint-based race through different gates, Gymkhana allows for more trick-based events while Smash Attach has racers trying to smash through objects to get a score and collect objects quickly.
From there, choosing a vehicle and creating your own thumbnail using the in-game photo mode is a simple task to get your course online. I’m personally not normally fond of creating my own courses, as I don’t have the patience or skill to do so in most games, but I will say that Dirt 5 makes this incredibly easy to pick up and learn. Even someone like me is able to create courses relatively quickly, although I’m sure with refinement and time it would be easy to create some challenging and exciting challenges.
“Playgrounds is something we’ve wanted to share for some time. It’s unique for the DIRT franchise and, with endless possibilities, we can’t wait for our players to get creative…:
“Playgrounds is something we’ve wanted to share for some time. It’s unique for the DIRT franchise and, with endless possibilities, we can’t wait for our players to get creative,” said Robert Karp, DIRT 5 Development Director at Codemasters. “We still have more to come so keep your eyes peeled for more exciting DIRT5 news and check out the tease at the end of the Playgrounds trailer.”
Absolutely, the ability to easily create your own courses has slowly been making its way into several different genres, and the one thing that has me hesitant is the amount of work that you have to put in to create something fun. It can be a daunting task, but Dirt 5 finds a way to make it feel accessible and easy to come up with interesting course ideas.
For others like me who are more interested in getting straight to the action, the Discover menu is there, with courses sorted into categories so you can jump in and see what others have already created. This also shows the highest-rated courses so you can jump in with the most popular ones, or Lucky Dip just chucks a random one at you, which is a fun opportunity for those who struggle with making a decision and just wanna try something different.
The examples already on display show off some of the possibilities, and gave a great indication of what the future may look like once talented players get their hands on the Playgrounds toolkit. One tricky course had me driving through a bunch of shipping containers, with tight corners and signage that sometimes tricked me into going the wrong way briefly. Another had me going over a series of well-placed jumps, forcing me to pace my vehicle carefully instead of using speed. One of my favourites was a more simple Gate Crash which had a bunch of checkpoints placed around several jumps in an open arena, leaving it up to the player to decide which order worked best to shave seconds off their time.
Like Dreams and Super Mario Maker 2 before it, I am far more interested in seeing what other talented players come up with rather than making my own, and the potential on display based on these examples has me excited to check out the creativity. It’s also worth noting that players will only be able to share them within their console or platform family, so PS4 with PS5 and Xbox One with Xbox Series X.
Considering the campaign of Dirt 5 looks more like what we know and love from the franchise, Playgrounds is set to provide a unique option for players, and will likely increase the longevity of the racer above and beyond the many hours you could already spend out on the actual track. Overall, we’re in for a value-filled package later this year.
Dirt 5 is available on October 16 for Xbox One, PS4 and PC, and will eventually be released on next-gen platforms PS5 and Xbox Series X.