Codemasters formally announced Dirt 5 today during the Xbox 20/20 reveal stream, and I’m sure a few of you will have noticed a distinct arcade feel to the game. A little bit MotorStorm, you might say? Well, there’s a very good reason for that, and that’s the fact that it’s being developed by Codemasters Cheshire and not the Codemasters Southam team who created Dirt 4.
This was confirmed by Codemasters’ Social and Community Manager Chris Groves on Discord:
The Codemasters Cheshire name might be new, but the studio can trace its history back through Codemasters Evo to Evolution Studios. While there’s been some significant turnover of staff, it’s the studio that started life in the early 2000s making the World Rally Championship for PlayStation 2. For the PlayStation 3 era they created the MotorStorm series, before setting to work on Driveclub for the PlayStation 4.
Driveclub turned out to be the studio’s downfall, with the game suffering several delays prior to release and then horrendous connectivity issues when it did eventually come out. The team got to keep plugging away at the game, releasing DLC and a standalone Driveclub Bikes expansion, but Sony pulled the plug in 2016.
Codemasters saw an opportunity and rescued the studio, rebranding them as Codemasters Evo and letting them get to work on the ambitiously different arcade racer OnRush in 2018. While filled with unique ideas that blended various genres together, it didn’t manage to capture the audience they might have hoped for, and the studio suffered a round of layoffs that saw many of the senior staff depart.
Another rebrand later and we now see the studio handed the keys to one of Codemasters’ longest running and biggest series. That’s one hell of a show of faith in their talents.
It also explains a dramatic shift in tone from Dirt 4. That game was a relatively serious affair primarily built around the idea of randomly generated rally stages, but Dirt 5 features more real world locations, seasonal weather that can affect them. It’s still all about off-road racing, but there’s more of a festival vibe to it, there’s more ostentatious river ice races, more head to head races, barmy liveries. There’s also more fluffy things like having Nolan North and Troy Baker come in to voice characters in a branching single player career stories, and it’s clear that this is a more arcade feel to the serious sim rallying of Dirt Rally 2.0, but that just helps to broaden the series.
Dirt 5 will be out starting this October, coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5 and PC, with a Stadia release in early 2021.
Here’s hoping Evo… sorry, Codemasters Cheshire knock it out of the park.
Source: Discord, Xbox