FanBolt’s Andrew Stevens sat down with Paul Jeal, the Game Director for the upcoming racer DiRT 4, which arrives on PC and consoles this June 6th. Tighten your seatbelt and prepare to learn more about the upcoming rally game from Codemasters!
DiRT 4 is said to take the thrill and realism from DiRT Rally and combine it with the excitement and accessibility of DiRT 2 and DiRT 3. Does this mean DiRT 4 is going to be more along the lines of playability when compared to DiRT 3 than DiRT Rally? So, it’ll still have that flare of realism, yet still play more like a game than a simulation?
DiRT 4 actually has two separate handling models which we call Simulation and Gamer. It is completely up to you which one you choose when you first start the game and you can change it at any point. This should mean that we provide a great experience for those looking for a DiRT Rally style simulation or DiRT 3 like pick up and play accessibility.
The feedback we have been getting from everyone who has played the game has been extremely positive and it allows players to play in the way that best suits them.
Following up on the first question, how accessible is DiRT 4 going to be for the casual gamers and racing fans who couldn’t handle the intense realism of DiRT Rally? If they were a fan of DiRT 3, does this mean they’ll have a welcomed return to the DiRT series with DiRT 4?
It’s definitely fair to say that many players found DiRT Rally a daunting task. It was unapologetically simulation based and we effectively threw you the keys to a rally car and let you learn as you go.
That level of experience is still there if you want it, in fact we have done a lot of work on refining it still further, especially around tire models and aerodynamics.
As I have touched upon earlier, we have a new handling model for more casual players but we have not stopped there. We want DiRT 4 to be truly accessible so now we have a fully fledged Rally School where you can learn the skills, tips and techniques you are going to need to succeed. The Career mode also has a far smoother learning curve, thanks to Your Stage (more on that later), meaning that we ease the players into the game far more than we have in the past.
Fans of DiRT 3 should love it, fans of DiRT Rally should love it!
Your Stage sounds fantastic based on what’s so far known. I love the idea of generating different types of unique stages that can have a near limitless number of possibilities. Exactly how much control does a player have over the creation of each track when it comes down to how many corners, jumps, and long stretches of road?
Your Stage is actually incredibly easy for the player to use. They set the location (from Sweden, Wales, USA, Spain and Australia), the time of day and the weather conditions and then you just use two sliders to create your track – one for length, the other for complexity. This allows you to then generate a stage based around your parameters. If you don’t like the look of the stage it has created, simply press again and you get a new one. There are millions and millions of possibilities.
The end result is amazing and one that we are all incredibly proud of. From a design perspective it has given us a huge opportunity to curate our entire career. As a result we have hundreds of unique stages through the career meaning that you’ll never see the same stage twice. It also means that we can gradually increase the difficulty from the early beginner events all the way through to the most challenging championships at the end of the career.
You won’t be able to further fine tune your stages. What you generate is what you get. It’s something we may open up in the future but for now we wanted the system to be as immediate as possible so that all players could quickly generate stages.
We can share our ‘Your Stage’ creations with friends. Can we also download the top stages created by the community? Is there an option for that?
You can easily rate and save your favourite stages. You’ll even be able to save those that you haven’t generated but just happen to be playing online or in a competitive event. You’ll then be able to share them via RaceNet with your friends and the wider DiRT Community.
You will also be able to access things such as the most popular stages created, fan favourites and special events. There are a host of possibilities.
What’s the weather like outside? Is there dynamic, changing weather in the game? Can we experience dry conditions that turn into rain near the end of a longer race? Also, can we experience rain at the bottom of a mountain and have it start to snow once we get to the top?
We have changeable weather conditions but they are not fully dynamic. This means that rain can intensify or fade over the course of a stage or you can be driving in overcast conditions and suddenly you’ll hit thick fog. This means that the running order (the time at which you take your turn to run the stage) can have a big impact on the conditions you are facing.
On top of that you’ll notice that the weather ebbs and flows throughout career events which really builds a nice sense of atmosphere around every stage.
How deep is the career mode and how does it differ from DiRT 3? What can fans expect to experience in their career?
As I touched upon previously, Your Stage has allowed us to do some exciting things with the career mode to make it the most in-depth and rewarding we have ever had in a DiRT series. You start off as a driver for hire but quickly start to establish your own team around you, buying cars and upgrades, hiring staff, signing sponsors and building your team’s facilities.
There is a huge amount of gameplay in the career mode alone without touching freeplay, multiplayer or anything like that.
It’s mentioned that there will be competitive gaming through daily, weekly, and monthly challenges against players from around the world. Will there be multiple tiers of competition for players of different skills to participate in? If I’m a better driver, can I expect to rank up a tier, while those who may struggle more can compete in a lower tier? What’s going to be unique about the competitive challenges?
We have two types of Competitive modes in DiRT 4. Our Daily, Weekly and Monthly events, that fans of DiRT Rally may be familiar with, form our community events. These are Global leaderboards that allow players to compete against one another asynchronously in these time limited events.
We then have Pro Tour which is our ladder based ranking system. Here players will be match-made against other players in the same division. There they will compete against each other to earn points. Earn enough points and you’ll move up a Tier. Lose enough points and you might get relegated. If you go up enough Tiers then you will be promoted to a higher division and you’ll find the competition intensifies.
Both of these competitive modes split players by their handling model, so we’ll keep the Gamer and Simulation handling models apart, but they are a great place to test yourself against the rest of the DiRT community.
I’m ready to “be fearless” and take on the challenging and near infinite roads ahead. Tell us, why else should we be excited about DiRT 4? What else about the game will fuel our passion for off-road racing?
We have only really touched upon the rally aspects of the game, and while rally does form the bulk of your career we also have multicar racing in the form of rallycross and landrush, and the Rally School becomes a joyride playground where you can compete in smash block and lap time challenges as well as just being somewhere where you can just play with your cars.
Rallycross is the fastest growing motorsport in the world and we are the official game of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. A lot of work has gone into refining the handling of the rallycross cars and we have had some incredible freedback from the real world drivers. You are able to race Supercars, RX2, Super 1600, crosskart and Group B spec rallycross cars in Loheac, Montalegre, Hell, Holjes and Lydden Hill.
Landrush is also back, having been in DiRT 2 and 3. This is American style shortcourse racing with plenty of action, drama, contact and collisions. There are three locations all of which feature incredible fictional tracks full of jumps, bumps and berms. The vehicles are pretty cool too, going from crosskarts and buggies up to 2WD and 4WD trophy trucks which have an incredible amount of power. We think fans are going to love them.
Note: Andrew Stevens conducted this interview prior to his final day at FanBolt.