Who would have thought that Dirt 5, the upcoming off-road extravaganza from Codemasters would feature a slice of Trackmania. The new Playgrounds feature takes the track creation of the adorable arcade racer and re-imagines it for an off-road audience.
I’ve been keen to take a closer look at Dirt 5 since it was announced, and all signs so far point to a much more rounded experience than the slightly off-kilter Dirt 4. The Playground in particular promises to offer players who enjoyed the procedurally generated randomness of Dirt 4 a chance to explore a host of player creations that will stretch their skills and show that a bit of madness is much more exciting than most things an AI will create.
In the Playground you have free roam of the Cape Town stadium or the open plains or Arizona to make your choice of event. Ultimately you can make Gymkhana levels where pulling off rad tricks and racking up points is the name of the game, Smash Attack courses where smashing through inflatables will boost your score, or good old-fashioned Gate Crasher.
I focused my energies on creating a Gate Crasher course, taking the driver on over bumps, around tyre walls, through a massive water splash before reaching dizzying heights for a literal flying finish. The range of objects to place in the arenas is wide and varied, and although the preview build had some small issues with object snapping, most of the time I was able to place and link my jumps, blocks and barriers together without any problem.
It all made for an easy process of creating a track, but one of the joys is that you can take any of the vehicles in Dirt 5 to your course to test them out. As well as allowing you to decide whether a classic Ford RS2000, a modern Skoda Fabia or one of the buggies or trucks best suits your course, by setting the vehicle you will ensure anyone giving your course a whirl will experience it as you intended.
After stepping out of my building site and towards the courses made by others, I realised my effort was not going to be getting many thumbs up. Some of the creations on offer showed the scale of what can be achieved with the right level of planning and imagination. There were some spectacular entries, and the community is bound to make the most of the Playgrounds mode when they get their hands-on Dirt 5 later this year.