I wouldn’t have thought that Dirt 5 would be the first game that I’d be experiencing on a next-gen console, but as a major fan of the MotorStorm franchise, and with Dirt 5 taking a more arcade direction, I was keen to jump in and check out not only the game but the Xbox Series X optimisations.
Playing through a few of the arcade matches before booting into career mode, I could tell that I was going to be in for a good time. Whilst I’m horrible at simulation racers such as Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo, I absolutely love over-the-top arcade racers that don’t penalise you too much for putting pedal to the metal and smashing into the occasional wall. The cars in Dirt 5 control well, with the difficulty feeling right in the sweet spot.
Dirt 5’s career mode is probably where you’ll be spending most of your time in the earliest stages of the game and it doesn’t disappoint. The campaign sees you choosing between paths as you go through races trying to complete objectives and win the race. Every so often, you’ll come to a major event that you’ll need to earn a certain number of medals to participate in. With over 70 different locations and a number of different vehicle classes, what I’ve played so far feels incredibly fresh in terms of track variety.
When I saw that Troy Baker and Nolan North would be the main stars of career mode, I was expecting a little bit more. Essentially, they provide voiceovers for their in-game characters, but as far as I can see that’s as far as it goes, there’s no physical aspect to their performance. It’s nice to have something to keep the story ticking along, but it did fade into the background a little bit.
Another main part of the career mode is sponsorships. These see you taking on sponsors such as Beats by Dre and Monster Energy in order to earn more money and reputation by completing extra objectives throughout your events. It provides an extra challenge in races and keeps things interesting.
Booting up an unfinished build of Dirt 5 on my Xbox Series X, which is still operating a preview operating system, presented me with three options. Image Quality, Frame Rate, and 120Hz mode, the latter of which we’ll touch on a bit later. Playing in 4K, I started things off in Image Quality mode which seemed to be pushing 4K at an uncapped frame rate. As far as I can tell, the game was hitting 60FPS most of the time, only dropping below when there were more than a handful of cars on-screen or when some major was happening off-track.
Frame Rate mode was an extremely consistent 60FPS without sacrificing visuals (I assume it was running in either 1800p or 4K). Both of these are fairly major accomplishments, with Dirt 5 looking extremely nice. Not only are the cars well detailed, picking up dirt and damage as you go along the track, but with dynamic weather, and constant visual effects in the form of fireworks or things flying through the air, Dirt 5 is an absolute visual delight on Xbox Series X.
At this point in time I don’t own an HDMI 2.1 TV, so I was unable to play at 4K/120Hz, but I was able to play at 1440P/120Hz using my monitor, and it was a fairly consistent 120FPS, but whilst Performance mode didn’t seem to remove anything visually from the game, there’s definitely some sacrifices made to hit the 120FPS target.
As evident in the side-by-side image, you can see that shadows definitely aren’t as nice as they are in the Image Quality/Performance modes, the clouds don’t look as nice, and the crowds have been completely removed from the game. Now, this isn’t really surprising as obviously, something had to give in order to hit 120FPS, but with the game being a buttery smooth 4K/60 in other modes, I think most people will end up opting for Visual mode.
Dirt 5’s load times on the Xbox Series X are blisteringly fast. From the second I clicked into the game, it took about fifteen seconds for me to be in the main menu, and a further thirteen seconds to get into a race. It’s just nice to be able to head into career, head back out and browse cars as I please without having to worry about any loading screens at all.
All-in-all, I’m really enjoying my time with Dirt 5. It’s probably not going to be a game that’s reliant on next-gen consoles in order to provide enjoyment, but the game looks great visually and definitely runs well on the Xbox Series X, so you won’t be disappointed picking it up alongside your shiny new console.
Dirt 5 is releasing on November 6th for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It will release alongside the Xbox Series X and PS5 at launch with a free upgrade for those that can’t wait for next-gen and want to play the current-gen version.