Codemasters are shifting gears once more, drop the clutch and shunting the gearstick away from Dirt Rally 2.0 to a new Dirt project. While there’s next to no details on what this game will be, we can read between the lines of what to expect.
At this point, the company reveal that there are no plans for further content for Dirt Rally 2.0, which has had four seasons of DLC and a special one-off Colin McRae themed expansion. The game will still have daily, weekly and monthly challenges, as well as esports competitions, but Codemasters are looking to the future and “something new roar to life in the world of DiRT.”
So what kind of Dirt game can we expect to see next? Well, it’s being “developed by a separate Codemasters studio to the DiRT Rally team,” and that gives us our biggest clue. Namely, this will most likely be a follow up to the main Dirt series of games, or Dirt 5.
We can infer that from the pattern of development that the series has had over the last decade. After Dirt 3 in 2011 and Showdown in 2012, Codemasters got to work on Dirt 4, but that game wouldn’t be announced or released until 2017. However, in the meantime, the idea of a more sim oriented rallying game was conceived and grew into Dirt Rally. This game started off in Steam Early Access and developed toward release through 2015, while the mainline Dirt 4 was still in development.
Though there was some crossover into Dirt 4 after the popularity of Dirt Rally, which resulted in an option for more simulation oriented handling, the core of the Dirt Rally team (in particular the developers in charge of physics and handling) stayed together and went on to create Dirt Rally 2.0.
With the blog stating that this upcoming Dirt game is developed by “a separate Codemasters studio”, something similar has clearly been happening for the last few years. There’s still plenty of leeway within that, though, especially as developers and resources can be shuffled between teams and studios.
Dirt has traditionally been developed at Codemasters’ original studio in Southam, but the mention of it being a “separate” studio implies that this might be in development in part of the company’s wider network of developers, which includes Codemasters Evo (OnRush, DriveClub, MotorStorm) and Slightly Mad Studios (Project Cars). While SMS is unlikely, having just been acquired in late 2019, Codemasters Evo’s ill-fated OnRush saw a wave of layoffs and the team reportedly being redirected to a supporting role and less risky game propositions. This could see them returning to their rallying roots – they created the WRC series during the PS2 era – whether as lead developer or as backup to the team in Southam.
Whoever is working on it, this is sure to be keenly watched by Dirt fans. Codemasters say “we’re incredibly excited about what’s around the corner” and this could easily be leading toward an announcement in the coming weeks. Microsoft are hosting an Xbox Series X game showcase this week, and Sony will surely have something similar lined up for PlayStation 5 as well, both of which would be ideal venues for a Dirt announcement.
Don’t worry about Dirt Rally and sim rallying, though. Codies say “We have big plans, driven by a passionate development team, solely tasked with taking the Rally series to even greater heights. You won’t hear about that for a while, but when you do… oh boy, will you be excited for what’s coming.”