Dirt 5’s “Playgrounds” is Creative and Will Keep You Coming Back

Dirt 5 “Playgrounds” Preview

Dirt 5 continues the off-road pedigree of the series but this time it is adding a whole experience for Dirt Veterans: Playgrounds.

With this mode, which can be thought of as an off-road gamers equivalent of the Playstation’s Dreams game, players can compete with one another in a whole new way. In the Playgrounds mode, you will be able to virtually build your own course to test not only your driving skills but those of other drivers as well.

From there, your tracks can be published and players can compete against one another to see who can smash through the course the quickest and/or with the most points.

Lay of the Land

Interestingly enough, the preview build made available has all the track editor controls accessible via controller only for the PC build. Mouse/keyboard controls will be made available for PC users later on.

There are two main control menus: The Editor and Object Browser menus. The Editor menu is used for the overall track design, while the Object Browser is used for object selection and placement on the track. The Object Browser is opened within the Editor menu.

On the plus side, the joystick edit functions are mapped to an Xbox controller with the A, Y, X, and B buttons but as someone who prefers the PS4 Dualshock, the edit controls work just as well.

The Edit controls are mapped out as mostly expected and are used to control movement around the track. The joysticks control camera movement, the triggers are used for zooming in and out, toggling top down camera on/off, or open/closing camera quick settings. The A button is to pick up/place an object or object group while the Y button is used to delete a held object or object group. The directional pad is used to move held objects or rotate them. The controller menu button is used to access the Editor Menu.

The Object Browser reuses the controller inputs to manipulate objects. The left joystick and the D-pad are used to navigate amongst the objects. The A button is used to select an object. The Y button is used to pin/unpin objects. The B button closes the Object Browser. The upper triggers are used to tab left or right.

While a mouse/keyboard combo will still be the preferred choice for PC gamers, the joystick controls actually worked out pretty well, which is good news for the console players of this game. You can vary track conditions by making use of the verticality in object placement and track height, but be aware that you must clarify track navigation through the judicious placement of signs and arrows.

To help flesh out tracks, not only are track surface objects available, but other dressing objects are offered to fill out the background and surrounding environment. These elements do not affect the driving experience, but good presentation always adds to the overall enjoyment of racing on a track.

Game, Set, Match

With these two editors, you can choose any car and any car class to be used with two locations. Keep in mind when building a track it is restricted to allow players to only use the vehicle you have chosen in the interests of fairness. Within these two locations, there are three arena options to check out. You can create challenges under the spotlights of Cape Town or choose the open environments of the Arizona desert.

From the arenas available for each location you have three game types you can choose from. Do you prefer high-speed time trials or hunting for treasure through intricate mazes, or are you a hot-dogger and get off on stunting? Dirt 5 lets you do all three through the Smash Attack, Gate Crasher and Gymkhana game types.

As you can surmise, how you edit your track will be controlled by which game mode you choose to pursue. In the Smash Attack mode you can add inflatable objects that slow down cars, while in the Gymkhana mode you add ramps and loops and rings of fire to let a driver’s acrobatic skills stand out. The goals in each mode will vary either based on shortest time or points accrued or a combination of the two. The track with the best flow will not only provide drivers with a fun game challenge, but will elevate your track above other creations by receiving the most votes from drivers.

Create Your Own

The Playgrounds mode is certainly an ambitious addition to Dirt 5, but one that should add to the longevity of the game. Despite some rough edges in the current state of the mode that the developers insist will be smoothed out, players who love the challenge of not only racing tracks but creating them should be very happy with this new option.