I agree with you that pad handling is missing something. Had no problems in dr1, felt intuitive and could predict and sense car behaviour. In Dr2, while it's serviceable, it doesn't give me the same confidence or make me want to try it just one more time. That addictive factor has gone 😢
I do feel though it's a combination of track design and handling. So I don't know if it'll be addressed (or if it needs to be at all. After all, I could just have gotten so bad at playing games between dr1 and dr2.)
Rather than ranting, I'll list things that I feel could improve pad handling:
- better feeling when driving on positive or negative camber. Most cars seem to just snap their rear end on positive camber with no feedback. However anticipating this and going into the corner and correcting it has this strange sensation of the car either auto correcting therefore interferes with my manual attempt to correct or drifting wide, feeling floaty at times with no ffb.
- related to the above, but worth mentioning separately is the general observation that tracks seem more cambered and varying in elevation than in dr1. I guess with a wheel you'd feel the steering drag and can actively prevent it, but on a pad there's no such thing, so I mostly react to visual clues, which affect my reaction times. I think the camera and surface detail could be improved to combat this but not sure how to solve this one. (Again, not saying it needs fixing, just a personal view)
- further testing on game pad. I feel this title was developed primarily to the wheel user base. While working on dirt rally 1, I specifically recall a lot of pad testing being done daily (yes I worked as a front end engineer in dr1 and spent countless after work hours testing the game on pad). It may be that the same level of testing has been done to this title, however I feel it could do with a focus test session on all vehicle track combo. Crucially, I still play the games with a standard wired x360 controller. It maybe that this has now become non standard and therefore has been dropped in favor of x1 pad for majority of the testing and balancing. I'm speculating here so likely to be wrong, but pointing out the fact that diff pads could be reason why some peeps like the handling and some don't.
- I should get a wheel. To counter the above point in balance, the game may have taken a significant enough step in the underlying systems that I'm no longer able to enjoy the experience on a pad as well as I did with Dr1. (I set some top 100 times on pc and on ps4 which I think is decent enough to qualify as 'good' player).
I've come to accept dr2 as an evolution that leaves some gamers behind because they were on the fringe of sim games (me being one) and gained a lot more because it's now falling into the sim bracket a lot more. If this is the perception, in ok with it. I just wish I could enjoy this game on a game pad because, well it's CMR at its heart and I grew up playing this series on game pads.