DiRT 5 Xbox One X Review

November 3, 2020

DiRT 5 has raced its way onto Rocket Chainsaw’s Xbox One X and is taking us on a trip across the globe from China to New York to Greece and beyond in the most diverse DiRT yet. With an exciting new career including several game modes and vehicle classes, a new Playgrounds mode where players can compete against each other in their very own created arenas, and an arcade and online mode for extended gameplay, DiRT 5 dabbles in a little bit of everything off-road… except for rally. When DiRT 4 launched in June 2017, we didn’t think we’d be waiting until just a few days before the next generation of consoles to play DiRT 5, but here we are so let’s take a look at the Xbox One X version of the game.

Gameplay options in DiRT 5 are surprisingly limited, offering just four options: Career, Online, Arcade and Playgrounds. The online and arcade modes are quite similar, providing the chance to set up a custom race however you like, with fun modes like Vampire, King and Transporter returning to the franchise. You can also jump in to split-screen mode in Arcade for some couch multiplayer with up to three other players, and this split-screen integration can also be enjoyed at any stage throughout your career. Online mode offers lobbies of up to twelve players and Codemasters has informed us that there will be cross-generational support meaning you can still play with your friend on their shiny new Xbox Series X.

Career mode has changed once again, this time you can carve your own way through 125 events. If you don’t like a certain event’s challenges, you can pay $1000 to ‘reroll’, or you can pay $2000 to reroll the entire career. We found that some of the initial challenges for events are impractical and nigh on impossible, so having the reroll feature is a great way to fix this issue, though the rewards for completing challenges didn’t seem to be overly imperative towards completing the career. At the end of each race if you finish on the podium then you’re rewarded with experience, reputation for whichever manufacturer’s vehicle you’re currently driving, cash and a livery. You also get one to three points depending on what position you finish, which are then tallied towards unlocking later events in the career.

While winning every race is obviously ideal, the range of events throughout the career means that if you need to earn some more points to unlock later events there’s always some easier ones to go back to. Blitzing through the career in just a few hours of racing is possible, but completionists will find it takes anywhere from 10-20 hours to finish everything, depending on what level of difficulty you play on. Monitoring cash levels throughout the career didn’t seem like much of a challenge, as long as you don’t go to crazy on purchasing liveries and stickers for your personalized gamercard, there’s always enough cash to buy the best car for each event.

From the Career mode menu, you’ll find the return of throwdowns which are unique challenges that gradually unlock as you progress through the career, and sponsors that offer extra rewards depending on whether you can complete their requests (it’s good to find a sponsor that suits your driving and choice of game modes). You can only have one sponsor active at any time, and we found it paid well to check what rewards they give versus what events you’re currently completing, as, for example, one might prefer to sponsor a gymkhana driver over a rally raid racer. There’s also an in-depth livery editor built-in to the vehicle selection screen which is fun to toy around with and actually more comprehensive and customisable than we expected.

DiRT 5 Review

If you’re a fan of podcasts then DiRT 5 might be the perfect game for you. As mentioned, Nolan North and Troy Baker take on the roles of fictitious drivers and commentators Bruno Durand and Alex ‘AJ’ Janicek who bounce off each other and provide synergy to the career mode as it develops over its five chapters. Occasionally they ramble on a bit however, and it would have perhaps been cleverer if Codemasters worked the podcast audio into the load screens while your next race sets up. Load times on the Xbox One X were quite slow, and we’re guessing this is going to be the new norm on games released on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 moving forward, with priority given to the next generation which are currently reporting up to 80% reduction in load times.

While several gameplay modes are instantly recognisable like Landrush, Sprint, Rally Raid and Stampede, the standout new mode in DiRT 5 is called Path Finder. In Path Finder you’re expected to find your way through an obstacle course which feels somewhat similar to Ubisoft’s Trials dirt-bike games, but with four-wheeled roll-cage equipped vehicles. Path Finder is a solo event that is more about precision and controlled driving rather than speeding through as fast as you can, as rushing through will often result in losing control and hitting one of the many indestructible objects in your way.

Last seen in 2012’s DiRT Showdown, Gymkhana mode returns with a bang. Drivers must show their skills by performing jumps, drifts, donuts and more as you build your multiplier to score as many points as possible. The Gymkhana events in Career mode feel quite time limited, and this is definitely one of the harder modes to master, but we look forward to what creative players might come up with in the new Playgrounds mode.

DiRT 5 Review

The much-anticipated Playgrounds mode could just be the most thrilling part of DiRT 5. Currently, there are just three locations to create your playground: a stadium in Cape Town, a small desert map and a large desert map. The lack of locations isn’t an issue however, as the gameplay in Playgrounds mode is entirely up to how creative the community is. Codemasters has made plenty of assets available to help create whatever type of arena you want, from an event full of jumps and drift sections to an explosive block-bashing domino-falling ring-of-fire jumping unforgettable affair, there’s plenty to discover in Playgrounds mode, and the sky is truly the limit. The best arenas we tried out so far were ones that incorporated the vertical dimension, building large-scale structures that you could work your way around, but we’re sure players will be even more creative over the coming months.

DiRT 5’s photo mode is the most extensive yet, giving you the ability to control the lighting, change the time of day, weather conditions, and all the usual effects you expect from a professional photographer. Given DiRT 5 has so many unique game modes, the photo mode becomes your best friend in capturing the most memorable moments of your gameplay. Interestingly though, there is no instant replay and still no flashback/rewind option which means you’re going to have to perfectly time your shots.

DiRT 5 Review

Strangely, DiRT 5’s biggest downfall is its visual presentation. Keeping in mind that we reviewed it on the world’s most powerful console (if only for a few more days), DiRT 5 struggles to maintain a high/steady framerate, particularly when there’s more than one car on the screen. This means starting grids and bottleneck sections became moments of graphical congestion, with frames dropping to a very visible low, particularly if there was more on-screen happenings such as rain, smoke, or other effects. This didn’t seem to change terribly much when switching from image quality mode to performance mode, even though the textures and renders all take a big hit. It seems like the Xbox One X just simply isn’t powerful enough to handle DiRT 5 at its best, which was frustrating at the best of times and infuriating at the worst.

We’ve had a look at what DiRT 5 looks like on the Xbox Series X and it certainly looks improved, there’s even a third ‘120hz’ mode to switch to for super-smooth gameplay, though what we really want and hope to see when fans get their free upgrade to the next generation version is for the game to run well and look as amazing as it should in 4k60, because when DiRT 5 looks its best, it really shines.

The different environments provide an incredible assortment of scenery from sweeping mountainous vistas to huge bridges and jumps to tight and narrow caves and tunnels. The dynamic weather and day/night cycle means races won’t necessarily end the same way they started, and other effects like dust storms, sparks and confetti are constantly reminding you of just how much is going on behind the scenes to bring you some of the most over-the-top off-road racing ever. We’re hoping that a couple of post-launch updates will help smooth over some of the graphical issues, but for now DiRT 5 is a game where graphically you never know what you’re going to get around the next corner.

DiRT 5 Review

DiRT 5 is a mixed bag at launch. With the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 just days away, it’s evident that this game was designed for the next generation, so we have to wonder why Codemasters hasn’t waited the few extra days to release it as a day 1 launch title, especially when there are so few big names at launch for each of the consoles. While we firmly believe next-gen DiRT 5 will be amazing and probably worthy of a higher review score, our experience on the Xbox One X wasn’t up to our expectations.

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed DiRT 5 Amplified Edition on an Xbox One X with review code provided by the publisher. It is also available on PlayStation 4, and will launch on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 on their respective launch days of November 10 and November 12. We also tested the game out on our Thrustmaster wheel, but Codies has told us there will be an update with a full list of supported wheels later in the month. For more information, head to the official DiRT 5 website.


- Fun new Career mode
- Fun new Playgrounds mode
- The promise of something better.


- Painful framerate issues
- Where has all the rally gone?
- Mixed bag of graphics.

Overall Score: