Dirt 4 tips and tricks to help you embrace a different style of racing
If you are looking for a simple racing game that you can kick back and relax to, crushing your opponents on route to easy win after easy win, then Codemasters’ Dirt 4 (also stylized as DiRT 4) is not the game for you. If, however, you are looking for a driving game that challenges you and demands that you master its intricacies, this might be your jam.
Dirt 4 isn’t the type of game you can simply pick up and expect to dominate, but it is a little more user-friendly than some of its predecessors. The career mode is tailored to help acclimate you to the ever increasing difficulty, with new races and challenges awaiting as you progress. There is also a decent tutorial mode that explains the ins-and-outs of the game’s vehicles and tracks, and it allows you to test out each highlighted feature and all the core mechanics. And even with all that, the odds of you winning every race on the first try are extremely low.
There’s no course map, no super imposed racing line, no rewind button, and no pity. But if you give the game its due and show a little patience, you’ll be rewarded with one of the deepest and most intricate racing games on the market.
With that in mind, we have a few Dirt 4 tips and tricks. If you have anything you’d like us to add, just drop it in the comments. And race!
There are two ways to play Dirt 4 in terms of handling: Gamer and Simulation. Most will probably start with the gamer handling. It’s worth trying the simulation handling to see how you like it, but you’ll probably want to wait until you are comfortable with how the game moves before trying out the much more complicated control scheme. The same is true of switching from automatic to manual transmission.
If you’ve played another racing game recently you’ll know the basic gamer controls of Dirt 4, but that’s about it. In titles like Forza, for example, the game wants you to win. It sets it up so you have countless options to cross the line in first place. You can always adjust the difficulty and increase the challenge, but the default setting is meant for you to jump in, hit the gas, and have a good time as you cruise to victory. Dirt 4 is not like that. Dirt 4 wants you to learn.
The biggest challenge those new to the series will likely face is the absence of a map while racing. In other racing titles you can glance at the course map to get an idea of when the turns are coming and how severe they are, which means you have time to plan – and that’s assuming you don’t have the racing line turned on to indicate where to go and when to slow down. In Dirt 4, you’ll need to listen to your navigator. If audio cues aren’t good for you (maybe you like to listen to music while racing – if so you aren’t alone), you can still watch for the visual symbols that denote the turn coming up.
In the early races, you’ll still need to pay attention to this, but other than hairpin turns you should be fine just watching the track. Even so, take the time to acclimate yourself to this style of navigation. The harder the courses, the more you’ll need to accept the cues as second nature.
Despite those differences, the core mechanics are similar to most racing games. You accelerate and brake with the shoulder buttons, and you use the handbrake for sharp turns. It’s a comfortable scheme, even if Dirt 4 uses it in a few ways others don’t.
Cars and Tracks
In Dirt 4, there are over 50 cars to choose from, but the type of car is just as important as the model. As you progress you’ll begin to unlock cars that offer different drivetrains. Often, the type of car you use will be determined by the race, at least in career mode, but sometimes you’ll have a choice – primarily between 4WD and front wheel drive.
There are pros and cons to both, and there is more to it than just choosing one style over another. For example, an underpowered 4WD probably won’t be as effective as a top of the line front wheel drive on gravel, but on snow or a muddy course, you may want to go with a 4WD. The type of track will have a huge impact on your choice, but so too will personal preference.
When you start a new race – assuming you are serious about coming in first – it’s worth doing a shakedown drive before you start the race itself. You’ll get a chance to try the car out and see a portion of the track, which should help you decide if that car works for you. Even if you don’t have another car to switch to, it’s a good way to prepare for what’s to come. Of course, if you’re more interested in progressing to get to the next race rather than just winning, you may want to just jump in.
The weather and the environment will also have a huge impact on your race; sometimes they are connected and sometimes they aren’t.
For instance, early on you will experience one of the more detrimental weather effects you’ll encounter: fog. Granted, rain on an already muddy trail will make it harder to steer and snow changes everything, but under those conditions, you can at least see where you’re going and prepare by choosing the best ride and customizing it as necessary. In fog, your type of vehicle doesn’t matter. Handling doesn’t matter if you can’t see anything. For these types of races, your best bet is to listen closely to the navigator closely.
Dirt 4 isn’t about surviving through a turn and opening it up in a straight way, it’s about seeing how quickly you can conquer the turns. With that in mind, practice your turns until you feel comfortable enough to know what you need to do, even if you can’t do it perfectly each time.
The Dirt 4 career mode is where you’ll be spending most of your time. At first, it’s straightforward enough. You need to unlock new types of events and races by competing in previous races and events, so there’s a built-in learning curve. Basically, to unlock the game you need to play the game. Straightforward enough.
When you first begin, the races are simple; most have a maximum of one major turn in them and the rest of the course is easy to follow. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to your navigator or prepare for a challenge, but the early courses are easy enough. They are also time challenges, so you won’t have to contend directly with other racers who can get in your way, and even try to take you out.
You should take advantage of the easy races while you can. Run each race a few times to earn credits you can use to purchase and upgrade cars. There is a point of diminishing returns, but it’s worth running an early race more than once – especially if you didn’t come in first. The races only get tougher from that point on.
Once you have several races unlocked, you’ll get the chance to move on to other types and styles of racing. Again, it’s a straightforward enough layout. Just be prepared to try a little bit of everything as you progress through the ranks of rally racing.
Dirt 4 offers a fairly substantial tutorial broken into multiple sections. To begin with, DiRT Academy is a straightforward tutorial, where you have lessons you can complete, broken into multiple categories. A few of these are just information for you, but the majority will offer a demonstration as to how the specific lesson feature – anything from handbraking to how different vehicles handle – is meant to be utilized. That’s then followed by you taking control and trying to replicate the lesson you just watched.
It’s important to listen to what the game has to say and watch the icon that shows the timing. When it’s your turn to control the car, try mimicking what the tutorial showed and stick close to the ghost car. If you have any problems with the lesson, replay the demonstration or listen to the explanation while you are driving until you get it. Ideally, you’ll want to be able to catch the ghost car, but don’t feel that you have to. Complete one circuit using the new technique and the game will count that lesson as learned. If you need a refresher, you can go back anytime.
The DirtFish open track you are introduced to early on is also a good place to spend some time. There are no rules or missions, just an open area with some cones and walls to make of it what you will. This area is ideal, especially when you start, to get a real sense of the handling. Play around and try to get a feel in a non-competitive setting.
The DiRT Academy is an optional section, but it is worth exploring. If you have the patience you may want to complete all the tutorials before you jump into a career mode, but it isn’t necessary – especially during the early races.
Joyride is Dirt 4’s variety packed section, filled with a series of very specific styles of races, like timed smash challenges. It’s not as demanding or deep as the career, but it isn’t meant to be either. It’s a mode where you can go and have fun messing around in creative and wild game modes. You can also send challenges to your friends, which makes it all incredibly addictive.
While mastering these modes may not appear to have a direct impact on the career mode, learning and practicing some of these more obscure (but fun) styles of racing will give you a better appreciation of how the game moves and flows. Either way, the mode is worth exploring.
General Dirt 4 tips and tricks
- Dirt 4 offers community events – races that last for a very limited time. Keep an eye on them and the time limit, and if you don’t like the options just wait a few hours/days for the next round.
- You can create your own rally track in “Your Stage.” Even if you don’t intend to create a track, it’s worth experimenting with this mode. It may help you understand how the game is laid out.
- Experiment with the timing for the navigation cues – you can adjust it through the options to come earlier or later.
- In each map you’ll see a green marker, which during the race you’ll see represented by a green barricade. This is known as the “Joker lap,” and missing it can cost you penalty points. It also offers the occasional shortcut as well.
- Choose when to take the Joker lap strategically and based on your playstyle. Your opponents can take it as well, so if you want to take a big lead early, take it as soon as you can; if you want to wait for last minute push, hold off.
- Always look at your target goals. Don’t stress too much overreaching them all too, but if you know early on you won’t reach them you may want to restart the race.
- When you first start, the game will be set to auto-repair your car between races. Enjoy it while you can, because later on it will play a big part in your race strategy.
- You can go through the majority of the game without manually tuning your car once, but it’s worth playing around with.
- When you do start tuning your car, try doing one thing at a time and seeing how that feels. It will help you to identify what each tweak can do, and give you a better sense of what needs to be done. Try tuning one category to the extreme for the most obvious effect.
- You can always restart a race halfway through, but it’s usually better to complete it, get whatever points you can, then replay it and try again.