DIRT 5 on PS4 was a brilliant game and I thoroughly enjoyed myself playing it. It wasn’t without its issues, mind you, but the majority of them have been swept away by the extra power inside the PS5. It’s the exact same game, mind you, you aren’t getting any extra content. What you are getting are some sexy features with the DualSense controller, higher resolutions, higher frame rates, and none of that screen-tearing that I was forced to get used to on PS4.
Let’s start with the obvious, then – the graphics. The lovelies. It’s not a massive upgrade over the original game from PS4, but everything looks much cleaner, crisper, and slightly better illuminated, though with the game’s dynamic weather that can shift from blinding sunshine to a thunderstorm in the course of a lap, it’s hard to really make those like for like comparisons. Still, I’m just as impressed with DIRT 5 on PS5 as I was on PS4, and a little more. In fact, the scenery and cars look so good in DIRT 5, I’ve found myself breaking my own rule when it comes to racing games. If possible, I’ll always play in cockpit view, but with DIRT 5 I found myself playing in chase cam because I felt like I was missing out on too much with the smaller world view inside the cockpit. DIRT 5 isn’t alone in this, actually, as I’ve found myself playing Forza Horizon 4 in much the same way, and it’s my fear that graphics are going to be so great this generation that I’ll never see the inside of a car again. Woe be me, right?
The graphical upgrade are nice and the aim of 4K working in tandem with 60fps gameplay is appreciated, but the real upgrade comes in what’s sitting in your hands and how that brings you a little closer to the tracks.
The haptic feedback on the DualSense is all about the triggers. Pulling the right trigger, you’re met with a touch of resistance. Not too much and not too little, but just enough to remind me what it’s like to put a foot to the pedal of a real car. It’s such a small thing that after a while, once the stupid grin left my face, it was just there, as if it’s always been the most natural thing in the world. And it should have been, damn it! Why haven’t controllers been doing this the whole time?!
The resistance in the triggers is a great feature, as are the rumbles. Depending on the terrain, the controller will shake and rock as you go barreling over rocky mountain tracks, or it’ll give a smooth, continuous low rumble as you drift around a wet, muddy corner. It really does bring you closer to the action in a way that isn’t invasive or over the top. It just feels right, and I’m itching to give more racers a go so I can compare. At the moment, there’s not a lot to compare too, but hopefully, that’ll change soon, because this fun feature working with DIRT 5’s fun gameplay is, in a word, fantastic.
On a bit of a bum note, I have had some problems with DIRT 5, namely crashes, and not me smashing into other drivers – I do that for fun. What I mean is that the game crashes after some events. It doesn’t happen often and it’s not what I’d call game-breaking, just absolutely annoying as you lose the progress you’ve made in the race that the game crashes out on. So far in around 10 hours of play, I’ve had no fewer than 3 crashes, which isn’t great. But I suppose it’s to be expected with new hardware that hasn’t had those now-famous stability updates, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Another issue which is really a non-issue – mostly – is the game’s frame rate. There’s support for 120fps which I can’t try because my telly doesn’t do 120fps. I’m trying to teach it but it’s not going well.
The default is 60, then, with a couple of performance profiles depending on what you favour most: visual fidelity or resolution. Visual fidelity will give you fancier graphics but the resolution won’t be 4K. The resolution aims for the top draw with some scaled-back graphical features. However, you’d be hard-pressed to notice any real difference. What I did notice across both modes is that the frame rate can take a dramatic tumble at the start of races, particularly when all the cars are all on screen in a tightly-packed area. This is almost always at the start of an event – but not every event – and it lasts for just a few seconds, but it’s enough to notice.
Another oddity is a bug that I can’t rightly explain. It’s a very weird one where turning a corner will cause cars to disappear, including your own vehicle, resulting in a quick splash screen before going back to the race at the same point. Weird, no? To be fair, I’ve only had this occur on this particular track, so I don’t think it’s a widespread problem but it was worth a mention as it cost me my podium finish.
And that’s about the worst of it, really. I could moan about there only being one track by The Killers on the game’s soundtrack, but with the ability to play Spotify in the background, it’s an easy fix.
All in all, DIRT 5 is an amazing racing experience. It already was on PS4 and even then it felt like a little taste of next-gen. Well, I’ve now sampled the next-gen goodies and I’m very satisfied. If you’ve got DIRT 5 on PS4, you can upgrade for free to the PS5 version, and if you’re fortunate enough to have a PS5, or will have one sitting under the tree very soon, you owe it to yourself to give this a go.