Codemasters' DiRT Rally 2.0 has just arrived, and you may have heard that it's pretty darn good. This rally simulation racer has quickly become one of our favourite PS4 racing games, thanks to its superb handling model and various gameplay tweaks giving it the edge over its predecessor. However, you also may have heard that this is one tough title that may be hard to get into if you're not up to speed.
DiRT Rally 2.0 is a fantastic game, but for newcomers, it's not particularly welcoming, with no tutorials and almost all the driving assists turned off by default. In this guide, we'll provide rookie rally drivers with some key information and a few tips to know before you slide through the mud for the first time.
DiRT Rally 2.0 - general tips, hints, and advice
Below, we'll take you through some of the basics of DiRT Rally 2.0.
Default controls on a DualShock 4 PS4 controller
As with any decent sim racer, you're able to use steering wheel peripherals to play DiRT Rally 2.0, but most of you will be playing with a regular PlayStation 4 pad, so that's what we'll be going over here. Fortunately, the controls are easy to get your head around -- it's more the unforgiving handling itself that you'll have to learn. Anyway, here's the default control scheme for the game.
|Input||What it does|
|R2||Accelerator. The harder you hold it, the faster you'll accelerate.|
|L2||Footbrake. Again, holding it harder will have a stronger effect.|
|R1||Turns your headlights on or off.|
|L1||Activates your windscreen wipers.|
|Right stick||Look around. Turns the camera left, right, up, or down. Click in R3 to look behind you.|
|Triangle||Cycle through camera positions.|
|X||Gear shift up.|
|Square||Gear shift down.|
|D-Pad Down||Recover your vehicle if it veers off-course or turns over.|
|D-Pad Up||Roadside repairs. Use this to fix minor things like punctured tyres.|
That's about as much as you need to know to get started. All the functions can be remapped to your liking, so don't be afraid to play with it if you're struggling. To look at the controls and remap, go to Options & Extras > Input, then select your input device (controller) with X.
Most racing games will give you the option of automatic or manual transmission -- in other words, how you change gear while you're driving. However, in DiRT Rally 2.0, you have five options. Here's what each of them does.
|Automatic||The game handles gear shifting for you. Just worry about throttle and braking.|
|Semi-Automatic||Similar to Automatic but you can also change gears manually.|
|Manual Sequential||You change gears yourself using the face buttons.|
|Manual H-Pattern||For players using a steering wheel with a H-pattern gearstick. Not practical on a regular controller.|
|Manual H-Pattern with Clutch||For players with a steering wheel, H-pattern gearstick, and set of foot pedals including clutch. Not practical on a regular controller.
If you're just getting started with the game, we'd recommend playing on Automatic, and maybe moving up to Manual Sequential if you prefer or want to give yourself more to think about as you play. To change transmission type, go to Options & Extras > Game Settings > Transmission and toggle through the options.
Driving assists - what do they all do, and which assists should you use?
There are lots of driving aids in DiRT Rally 2.0 which will make the handling a little more approachable if needs be. By default, most of them are switched off - this is a sim first and foremost - but you're free to use as many as you like. Here's what each of them does.
|Transmission||Automatic to Manual H-Pattern with Clutch||As outlined above, your choice of transmission effects how gear changing is handled.|
|Clutch Override||On/Off||Allows you to apply the clutch at any time.|
|Auto Repairs||On/Off||The game will make repairs for you.|
|Anti-Lock Braking System||On/Off||With this on, if you slam the brakes, your car's wheels won't lock up, giving you a little more control.|
|Off-Throttle Braking||On/Off||When enabled, the brakes are automatically applied when you're not accelerating.|
|Automatic Windscreen Wipers||On/Off||Whether the wipers will activate automatically.|
|Exterior Cameras||On/Off||Allows you to use the external camera views.|
|Launch Control||On/Off||When enabled, this assist will prevent your car's wheels from spinning at the start line.|
|Stability Control||On/Off||This will prevent your car from sliding out of control.|
|Traction Control||On/Off||When on, traction control provides more grip on loose surfaces.|
|Time Control Braking||Off/1-5||This assist helps to slow down your vehicle after you cross the finish line, with 5 having the strongest effect.|
By default, Automatic Windscreen Wipers, Exterior Cameras, and Time Control Braking are activated. We'd recommend leaving these on, at least until you're familiar with the game. The other assists will have bigger effects on how the game feels to play, so experiment with them until you find a setup that works for you. If it helps, turn them all on for your first few rallies to ease yourself in more gently. Go to Options & Extras > Game Settings > Assists to adjust these.
Your co-driver - what he does and what his calls mean
In rally, the driver is accompanied by a co-driver who will make calls, or pace notes, as you race through the course. They might not make much sense at first, but the calls are very useful, as they detail what's coming up on the track ahead of you. It is very important that you listen to your co-driver, or at least pay attention to the accompanying symbols -- if you don't, you won't know what's coming up, and that will slow you down more than anything else. Here's what each pace note means.
|Co-driver Call||What it means|
|Double or triple digit numbers||These refer to distance, and will vary depending on your choice of measurements. If you're on Imperial measures and the co-driver calls "30," that means there's 30 yards between instructions.|
|Left/Right 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6||A number between 1 and 6 details how severe an upcoming turn is. A 1 is a very sharp turn, while a 6 is a gentle curve. In combination with a direction, this is how corners are called in DiRT Rally 2.0.|
|Hairpin||A hairpin turn, or U-turn.|
|Long/Short||This simply relates to the length of the previous instruction. If a corner is described as long, it'll continue for some distance, while a short turn will be quite abrupt.|
|Tightens/Opens||If "tightens" is called, the road ahead will be narrower than it is currently. "Opens" means it will widen.|
|Flat||This basically just means a straight.|
|Crest||A crest is an upward slope in the road that can make it hard to see the path ahead. You'll often hear "over crest" which refers to a crest within a turn. The co-driver will also sometimes tell you to stay left, right, or middle over a crest so you're in the best position coming out of it.|
|Jump||A bump in the road that will launch your car into the air if you're going fast enough.|
|Caution||A caution will be called if there's a hazard on or near your path that you need to be aware of, such as large rocks or a severe drop.|
|Water splash||A large puddle of water on the road.|
|Cut/Don't Cut||This is whether or not you're able to safely cut a corner, or at least get very close to the apex of the turn. If he tells you "don't cut," there's likely an obstacle at the apex, so you'll need to watch your line.|
|Maybe||Sometimes the co-driver will add "maybe" to an instruction. This is when the driver can make his/her own call regarding that instruction. For example, "jump maybe" will be called if a jump is coming but your car is damaged -- it's up to you how you handle the jump.
|Into||A word used to connect two instructions that may be close together. For example, a 6 right into a hairpin left means a shallow right-hand turn will quickly lead into a left-hand hairpin.|
All of these calls can lead into one another as well. Laid out like this, these calls seem like a lot to take in, but it will all quickly begin to make sense after you've played a few stages. Again, the game accompanies the pace notes with on-screen symbols by default, giving you a visual cue as well as an audible one.
You can adjust how early or late the co-driver makes his calls in the Game Settings menu. Tab to Preferences, and use the Co Driver Calls slider to determine when the calls are made. You can also switch between Imperial and Metric units here too.
DiRT Rally 2.0 - rally racing tips
Here are a couple of basic but essential tips for getting the best times on rally stages.
Listen to your co-driver
Your co-driver is your best friend in rally events. As outlined above, his pace notes allow you to anticipate what's coming up on the road ahead. Neglect to pay attention to this crucial information, and you can say goodbye to any decent times.
Don't just hold down accelerate
You need to curb your habit of holding down R2 as far as it goes while playing racing games. That won't get you very far in DiRT Rally 2.0. Instead, you'll need to learn to play a little more cautiously, using the accelerator and brake with more nuance than just putting your foot down. The triggers are analog for a reason -- use the full range to give yourself much more control over your car, particularly on dirt or gravel surfaces.
You don't need to use the handbrake all the time
Making handbrake turns in racers is fun because it'll usually initiate a drift, but in this game, it's really necessary. You'll be spending a fair amount of time drifting around corners, but the handbrake only really needs to come into play to tighten a turn. A combination of the brake and accelerator will get you around most bends.
Your tyre choice will make a difference
DiRT Rally 2.0 introduces different tyre compounds. Between stages, you'll be able to fit your wheels with different tyres depending on what you're up against. Usually, you'll have soft, medium, or hard tyres to choose from. Soft tyres will provide better grip in the short term but aren't as durable, while hard tyres will last much longer than the other types. Medium obviously strikes a balance between the two. If you have a couple of very long stage coming up next, you might want to go for hard tyres, for example.
Repair your car's internal parts before the bodywork
At the stations between stages, you're able to make repairs to your car. However, the time to do this is restricted, and if you go over, you'll face a time penalty. Obviously the less you have to fix the better, but if your vehicle is banged up and has multiple damaged parts, it can be hard to know what to fix and what to leave.
The game has a "Recommended Repairs" option that can decide for you, but really, it's pretty simple: the superficial damage to your car's body should be your last priority. Get everything else straightened out first.
FWD, RWD, 4WD - what's the difference?
Each car in DiRT Rally 2.0 will either be FWD, RWD, or 4WD. Put simply, these refer to which wheels of the vehicle are powered by the engine. The three types all behave differently.
FWD stands for Front Wheel Drive. The two front wheels are powered. This is the most common drive system, and because the majority of the car's weight is over the front wheels, they tend to have better traction. Probably the easiest cars in the game to get to grips with.
RWD stands for Rear Wheel Drive. The two rear wheels are powered. These cars are much trickier to handle. They're typically able to handle more power, but it's incredibly easy to oversteer and spin out if you're not careful with the throttle. They require a much more delicate approach and are harder to learn to drive effectively.
4WD stands for Four Wheel Drive. All four wheels are powered. Effectively, this means that 4WD cars tend do have better traction, because all wheels are engaged in pulling the car along. The rear wheels can still send the car into a slide, but because the front wheels are also powered, these cars are more effective at clawing their way forwards too.
Cars - where to start and how to unlock them
From the beginning of the game, you'll have a few cars in your garage, but once you've started earning some credits, you'll be able to buy pretty much whatever you like. Vehicles are able to be bought at any time, regardless of how much time you've put into the game. You can get some R2 or Rally GT class cars pretty early if you have the money.
However, if you're new to DiRT Rally, we'd recommend starting with the less powerful motors. The Lancia Fulvia HF is perfect for getting you started as it's easy to drive and isn't too fast. The way the game is structured, you're able to use it for as many rally events as you like -- you can enter any car in any championship. It's also worth remembering you can test drive any vehicle that's for sale before you buy it.
If you're curious about which cars are in the game, be sure to check out the full list of vehicles through the link.
Are you starting your rally sim career with DiRT Rally 2.0? Or are you a veteran with more tips for new players? Stay on the straight and narrow in the comments below.