Dust 5 (Xbox One X) hands-on: A quicker, flashier arcade off-road racer
, the eighth entry in Codemasters’ Dust off-road racing franchise, formally launches this weekend on and recreation consoles, in addition to Steam for PC. I’ve spent every week behind the digital wheel exploring the varied autos, tracks and recreation modes of this, the collection’ arcade-iest title but.
The historical past of the Dust collection is a smidge sophisticated, so here is a fast TL;DR: The primary title, Colin McRae: Dust (2007), was itself a spin-off of the Colin McRae Rally collection of off-road racing video games. In 2012, the franchise once more forked, with the arcade-style spin-off Dust: Showdown and Dust 4 (2017) on one department and the devoted racing sims Dust Rally (2015) and Dust Rally 2.0 (2019) on one other. Dust 5 is the latest (and wildest) member of the extra fun-focused action-arcade aspect of the household.
Let’s speak about automobiles. There are about 65 autos in my Amplified Version of Dust 5 to unlock, with extra promised in post-launch updates and DLC. The choice consists of the standard rally suspects — your traditional and trendy Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions, Subaru’s WRXes, and VW Baja Beetles — in addition to many rides chances are you’ll not look forward to finding enjoying within the mud, like lifted Rally GT variations of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and BMW M2 Competitors. Vehicles — just like the Ford F-150 Raptor — SUVs, buggies, dash automobiles and rock bouncers spherical out the roster. There are additionally a couple of fascinating fantasy ideas, together with the electrical Volkswagen ID Buggy, Mitsubishi e-Evolution and the Audi AI:Path Quattro, my personal-favorite idea automobile from the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Present.
Lots of the autos have a barely too-glossy look to them when considered on the choice menu, and their fashions are nowhere close to as detailed as these you will discover within the Forza Motorsport or Horizon franchises. Fortuitously, the automobiles and vehicles are likely to look a lot better in movement with a coat of mud and dirt tearing across the recreation’s tracks.
Customization has been simplified to a livery editor the place gamers can paint and sample their automobiles, in addition to apply decals and sponsor stickers. Most automobiles even have a couple of bespoke liveries unlockable by progressing to the Profession mode. Automobiles are ranked by “Efficiency” and “Dealing with” scores with S-A-B-C tiers for every metric. And since there are not any tire, suspension or efficiency upgrades to even the enjoying subject, this results in sure autos, just like the Laffite G-Tec X-Highway, merely dominating their class, which is kinda the other of what you need in an arcade-style racer.
Dust 5 goes all in on wheel-to-wheel, arcade-style motion. Tossing drivers right into a collection of circuit and point-to-point races on throughout 10 places — from Brazil to Greece, Morocco and extra. With a number of programs and race varieties for every locale, Dust 5 launches with simply over 75 distinctive tracks to select from.
The tracks themselves are the star of this recreation, to not point out your true opponents in Dust 5, throwing a wide range of surfaces on the participant. There are, in fact, grime programs, but additionally mud, tarmac, snow, ice, gravel and rocks, every with their very own ranges of grip and slip. And these aren’t simply static tracks; altering climate and observe circumstances will continually hold you in your toes. Rain turns grime into deeply rutted mud. A sudden blizzard can cowl the course in snow drifts, lowering grip. Day turns into evening, lowering visibility. Typically each lap of a three-lap race is exclusive, forcing you to regulate and alter your driving line on the fly.
The AI drivers you will commerce paint with are… less-worthy opponents. They deal with every race like a demolition derby; crashing, bumping and ramming the participant and one another at each flip. The very best technique is to get forward of them early and construct an enormous lead, however even then, the AI will sometimes “rubberband” as much as your place, simply in time to knock you right into a rock or barrier within the final nook.
That is much more annoying contemplating the way in which the sport handles collisions with the rocks, bushes and small outcroppings alongside the highway edge. In contrast to Forza Horizon, the place you may form of crash via sure objects with a pace penalty, Dust 5 treats these obstructions as immovable objects. At finest, this brings the automobile to an on the spot and unceremonious cease — which might ship you from first to worst — however usually sufficient to bear mentioning, these collisions resulted in my automobile being launched straight into the air. And as soon as they’re forward, the AI turns into frustratingly tough to catch, so it is both restart or settle for defeat.
The only-player mode is tied along with a unfastened audio podcast-style narrative that performs between the races, voiced by actors Troy Baker and Nolan North, and Donut Media’s James Pumphrey and Nolan Sykes. The story is compelling sufficient, nevertheless it’s additionally simple to by chance miss and is a pale substitute for the Rivals system present in Codemasters’ Grid and F1 racing franchises.
The simplified Profession mode additionally ditches the workforce administration factor of earlier Dust titles, in addition to lots of the race-day rituals like apply and recce laps or sustaining and repairing your autos between heats. These have been components that I actually loved in Dust 4, including a little bit of simulation legitimacy to the arcade motion. With out them, Dust 5 feels a bit much less distinctive.
Of the varied race modes that make up the marketing campaign, three stood out as my favorites. Ice Breaker races happen on a frozen lake. Within the Gymkhana showcases, drivers chain collectively drifts, spins and stunts for top scores. And through Pathfinder challenges — by far my favourite mode — you race towards the clock, choosing a cautious path via the massive elevation modifications of a rock bouncer course. Sadly, there are solely two or three Pathfinder programs (and just one rock bouncer truck) to select from, so I ended up repeating them fairly a bit over the course of the Profession mode.
Along with Profession, Dust 5 additionally options Arcade, Playground and a wide range of On-line racing modes. Arcade permits gamers to select from any of Dust’s tracks and customise the circumstances, climate, time of day, AI automobiles and extra to arrange no matter race they please.
The Playground will in all probability be the sport mode with the longest legs and most replay potential. This repository of user-generated stunt tracks and requisite observe builder instruments permits gamers to create and share their customized programs with the neighborhood. It is not in contrast to the customized observe builders present in GTA V On-line, Trackmania or the Trials collection, although presumably not practically as excessive. Throughout the preview, I used to be capable of pattern a couple of developer-built programs that have been a enjoyable distraction from the Profession mode, nevertheless it’ll be extra fascinating to see what the neighborhood comes up with as Dust 5 matures.
In movement, the Dust 5 seems to be superb with shiny, supersaturated colours, smoke results and lights and pyrotechnics. On the Xbox One X — the place I did my testing — the participant is given the selection between two visible settings. There is a 30fps mode that emphasizes picture high quality and 60fps mode emphasizing body charge. Wanting carefully, I observed barely nicer shadows and sharper particulars in “Emphasize Picture High quality” mode, however the distinction is sufficiently small that it may be tough to inform the modes aside as soon as the racing is underway. I did discover a little bit of display screen tearing throughout graphically difficult moments in each modes and occasional body stutters, however nothing too distracting.
It is not an ideal recreation and in some ways I nonetheless want the earlier title. That mentioned, Dust 5 is a large visible and stylistic leap forward of its predecessor and an fulfilling romp that stored me coming again for race after race. Earlier than I knew it, I might jumped, bumped, drifted and slid my method via the entire Profession Mode’s 5 chapters and its ultimate showdown. That I am nonetheless looking forward to extra implies that Codemasters is doing one thing very proper.
Dust 5 lands on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam beginning at $59.99 for the Customary Version or $79.99 for the Amplified Version, which incorporates three additional autos, in-game foreign money and XP boosts and entry to the entire post-launch DLC. Dust 5 might be one of many first video games to be optimized for the next-generation with free upgrades for Xbox Sequence S and Sequence X consoles on Nov. 10 and Ps 5 on Nov. 12. The subsequent-gen variations will boast higher graphic constancy, quicker loading and a 120fps mode.