Dirt 5 Review

Published: November 2, 2020 8:00 AM /


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There is nothing more exhilarating than hurtling around a corner at sixty miles an hour and waiting as your car slides further and further off the road before the tires find traction and you jerk forwards. Every single track in Dirt 5 gives you multiple opportunities to pull these tight and exciting turns off, and it somehow never grows old. This holds true for Dirt 5 as a whole since its driving mechanics are so well done that its repetitiveness is pretty easy to overlook.

The Dirt series looks better than it ever has with the introduction of Dirt 5, and it frankly may be one of the prettiest racing games I've ever played. Each environment and vehicle is beautifully rendered and its amazing to see cars realistically kick up dirt, mud, and snow as they plow through each track. The weather patterns as well look terrific with rain and snow falling from the sky and realistically making it more difficult to see as you race against your opponents. The really nice thing is that you are also given the option of choosing between sharper image quality or a more consistent frame rate, and both have some impressive advantages.

A Racing Experience Unlike Any Other

Dirt 5 Classic Rally
The amount of different car classes in Dirt 5 is impressive.

For the uninitiated, the Dirt series offers a racing experience unlike any other game on the market. Racing in Dirt 5 combines the realistic visuals and racing mechanics of titles like Forza with the more action packed and adrenaline soaked courses and racing maneuvers of games like Need For Speed. The most important mechanic in Dirt 5 is drifting, and players will be forced to use it in nearly every stage effectively. This isn't the drifting that arcade racing game fans are used to though, but instead closely resembles what drifting is like in the real world. You have to judge the composition of the ground on corners that  you plan to drift on before attempting it. Snow, gravel, pavement, and mud will all behave differently, so its imperative that you know how to drive on each one.

While knowing how cars operate on each surface is a big deal, it is equally as important that players understand how each individual class of vehicle work. Dirt 5 gives you access to Classic Rally cars, Formula Off Road racers, dune buggy-esque Rock Bouncers, Modern Rally cars, and a multitude of others. Each vehicle class is suited to a specific type of racing and event, which gives a lot of variety to choose from. The issue here is that since there are so many different classes of vehicle, I found it difficult to build my skills with an individual type of car. I would have much preferred the ability to race in a specific class of vehicles throughout the entirety of a Career rather than switching it up every track.

A Wealth of Different Game Modes

Dirt 5 Lightning Strike
The different weather conditions add a lot of variety to race tracks.

There are several different game modes for players to compete in throughout Dirt 5 like Career Mode, Arcade, Time Trial, Multiplayer, and Playgrounds. Career Mode is most likely where players will start their experience with Dirt 5, which is actually a solid place to begin. This mode lets players race in dozens of events as they go from an amateur racer to a champion. The different events and races are a lot of fun, but, despite being a career mode, there isn't much of a story for players to follow. There is a basic plot going in the background that features Troy Baker and Nolan North as key characters, but it really doesn't have much impact on the game overall.

Luckily, the racing is so much fun that I ultimately didn't care that I was doing the same thing over and over again.

The other game modes offer a few other twists to the gameplay that is offered in Dirt 5. The Arcade and Time Trial modes give you the option of deciding exactly what location to race in with options like China, Greece, Norway, or Roosevelt Island in New York. From there you can also choose what weather conditions you would like to race under, as well as what vehicle class you and your competitors can pick from. Players can also use Arcade Mode to race against up to three other friends in split-screen. Arcade mode is probably where I spent the majority of my time with Dirt 5 as it gives such an impressive amount of customization.

Time to Get Creative

Dirt 5 Trading Paint
You will probably spend a lot of time trading paint with their opponents.

Playgrounds is by far the most unique aspect of Dirt 5. Playgrounds gives players complete reign to create their own race tracks. These tracks aren't normal racing events though, and instead are split into time trial runs called Gate Crashers, Smash Attack obstacle courses, and Gymkhana events that task players with racking up points Tony Hawk's Pro Skater style. I had a blast creating small arcade events with this feature despite the fact that I have basically zero creative skills. This feature should be even more interesting as time goes on as well, since creators have the ability to upload their creations for the community to download and play.

The biggest problem with Dirt 5 is that despite the variety between car classes and locations, it can become pretty repetitive over time. I think this is because Dirt 5 doesn't have any sense of progression going for it at this time. There aren't any many vehicles to unlock or an interesting story to follow, so I was left feeling like there wasn't much of a point to what I was doing. Luckily, the racing is so much fun that I ultimately didn't care that I was doing the same thing over and over again.

A Racing Game to Remember

Dirt 5 Behind Wheel View
You will have to learn how to drive on many different surfaces.

Dirt 5 manages to set itself apart from the rest of the racing game pack by combining heart-pounding action with phenomenal visuals. On top of this Dirt 5 is both the kind of racing game that I want to play by myself, yet also play against my buddies in split-screen. This is definitely a game that I am going to be playing for many weeks to come.

TechRaptor reviewed Dirt 5 on the PlayStation 4, but it is also available on PC and Xbox One and will release on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Developer Codemaster provided a PS4 code for the purposes of this review.

Review Summary

Dirt 5 is an excellent racing game that manages to combine impressive visuals with exhilarating racing. (Review Policy)


  • Drifting Feels Wonderful
  • Smooth Visuals and Framerate
  • Varied Environments


  • Slightly Repetitive
  • Very Little Storyline
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