DIRT 5 should be on any racing fan’s shortlist of games to play over the holidays (and beyond), as is evident in our PS4 review published earlier this year. But how does the game fare on the latest and greatest Sony console, the PlayStation 5? Time to find out how Codemasters’ newest entry performs in our DIRT 5 PS5 review.
DIRT 5 PS5 Review – Free Upgrades for All
If you bought up DIRT 5 on a PS4, then there’s good news for if you managed to snag an elusive PS5 console; a free upgrade awaits you on the PlayStation Store! A simple entitlement download can be found on the game’s page, and the required files are downloaded and installed within a few minutes on the PS5. Unfortunately, save games do not carry over, so that means you’ll be starting from scratch on the upgraded version of DIRT 5. Considering how fun the racing is, though, it’s not the worst thing in the world to go back and re-earn everything again.
What a difference a few light rays make. DIRT 5 features ray tracing on the PS5, and it looks great. While things like real-time reflections on vehicles’ bodies look good during daytime races, at night and especially after inclement weather is where the effects really shine. Lighted signs along the side of turns realistically illuminate their immediate surroundings, down to even some pebbles along the road. Fireworks that go off in the distance are also captured by the metal of the vehicles, unless of course their paint jobs are matte.
All of this extra fancy lighting didn’t seem to cost much in terms of graphics on the rest of the game, either, since in Image Quality mode the frame rate still maintains a nearly constant 60 updates a second. Strangely, the only time real slowdown was encountered during our time with DIRT 5 was during the solo Pathfinder races, and then only during Dynamo jumps, which are larger jumps that feature purple smoke on either side of the track and occasionally some pyrotechnics. These exact same effects show during a loaded 12-racer event without problem, so it was certainly a weird issue to see.
DIRT 5 PS5 Review – Feel the Road
While the driving and handling model remains the same on the PS5, what must be felt to be believed are DIRT 5’s haptics. Codemasters opted to use both the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers in their game, and the result is an objectively better racing game. Expect to be able to “feel” each course in a unique way with these technologies. At the default level of medium for haptic and trigger feedback, things are intense, and at high, your hands might actually hurt a little after a race. It’s something you quickly adapt to, but the thrill of coming down back onto the ground after a jump never gets old.
The haptic feedback is precise enough that during races which feature water puddles, you can actually tell which side of the vehicle is being hit by water based on which side of the controller is vibrating. Meanwhile, the adaptive triggers go crazy as they react to whatever your vehicle is doing, and as the tires lose and gain grip against whatever surface you’re currently sliding over, the triggers provide more or less resistance according to the efficiency of the transmission at that moment. This is impressive stuff, and even rivals some steering wheels with regards to localized feedback. I know Codemasters themselves have said they aren’t happy with the current implementation of haptic feedback in DIRT 5, and while it isn’t as nuanced as WRC 9‘s usage, it doesn’t have to be. DIRT 5 is a loud, wild, arcade racer. Its haptics reflect that in a great way. Any tweaking to the feedback should involve texture rather than intensity, because as it stands now it makes races physically feel even more fun.
Loading times are also greatly reduced on the PS5 version of DIRT 5. While they weren’t noticeably lengthy during our time with the racer on a PS4 Pro, the custom SSD on the PS5 really shines here. Load times for most courses are at or under ten seconds, while restarting a course is of course instantaneous. Besides online, any mode you pick will result in such quick loading that it feels a bit unreal coming from the land of regular hard drives in the previous generation.
DIRT 5 PS5 Review - Better Looking and Feeling Crashes | PSLS
DIRT 5 PS5 Review – Growing Pains
Unfortunately, while DIRT 5 looks and plays best on the PS5, it does appear to have some growing pains at launch, and some of these issues may be deal-breaking at the moment. First, DIRT 5 tends to crash to the PS5 home screen every four or five races. It’s always in the same spot, once a race finishes and the results screen shows every racer’s finishing time. Since the game loads so quickly on the PS5, you’re only looking at around 15 seconds to get back into the action. However, when the game crashes, it usually doesn’t save the results from the last race, meaning you’ll have to redo that event all over again. Worse still, occasionally this crash results in a corrupted save file. Most of the time, this loses player progression for that single race, but occasionally the save game loses several hours’ worth of progress, and, in extreme cases currently being reported around the internet, entire career progress is lost.
Personally, I only saw one instance where I lost a few hours’ worth of progress, and at that point I figured out a backup plan. See, gamers with an active PlayStation Plus subscription are in luck, as backing up a known good save file to the cloud is quick and easy. However, automatic backups must be disabled for DIRT 5, otherwise you may end up seeing a new save file overwriting one with more progress. When a game crashes this frequently, one has to wonder how such an issue may have been missed in QA, and manually managing game saves is a nuisance most would rather live without. (Editor’s Note: The crashing issue could be PS5 console related, and not the game itself
DIRT 5 on the PS5 is the best version of the game to get on PlayStation consoles, when it works. That’s a big caveat, and most gamers will not want to have to constantly remember to pre-emptively upload their save game after a few races, or risk losing hours of progress due to one unfortunate crash. This also necessitates a PlayStation Plus subscription, since copying PS5 save games to USB storage is unfortunately not an option as of this writing. Assuming these issues get patched out, then it is easy to recommend buying this on the PS5, because DIRT 5 is a showcase racing game for the next generation of consoles with its smart use of haptic feedback and ray tracing, all while delivering a smooth performance.
DIRT 5 review code provided by the publisher. Version 1.003 reviewed on a PS5. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.