It appears the era of DR2 will come to a close once the Flat Out DLC is out, and so we begin to think about the next game in the series. No, not DiRT 5 - that's a different subject entirely, and I hope Codemasters learned the lesson from DiRT 4 and don't try to cross the two streams again. Push D5 in the 'fun, more arcadey' direction, and build on that.
No, this is about DiRT Rally 3! From chatting on the DiRTy Discord server the past year or so, a few common topics have emerged regarding the strengths and weaknesses of DiRT Rally 2, so I thought I'd post this list here, to be kept updated as y'all reply, of things we want to see from the next game.
I'll try to prioritise the biggest things first, but obviously there won't always be agreement about the ordering of such, so this isn't meant to be definitive. Here's a few things to get the ball rolling:
Better tarmac physics
The gravel and mud feels great, the ice in Monte feels pretty good, the snow feels good too, but it's fairly commonly accepted that the tarmac physics aren't good. Spain is the worst offender, with rear ends that tend to wander around on their own, with no feeling through the wheel about what's happening. It all feels too slippery and vague. It's less apparent in places like Germany and Monte Carlo, due to the nature of the roads there, but it's still a problem. Hopefully the acquisition of SMS can bring some expertise in this area, but mainly we want the tarmac to feel more precise and sharp, and to be able to feel what the car is doing more. If anyone has a better way of explaining this, please do chime in.
Extra, extra long stages
Who doesn't want to run up one side of Col de Turini and down the other in one go, starting and ending on dry tarmac but crossing the ice-covered peak in the middle? Wouldn't it be great to run the entire New Zealand stage at once, through the twisting coastal road then heading inland for the crazy high speed sections? Give your car's brakes the workout of their life with the entire Panzerplatte! Plus as @HoksuHoo says, there should be longer intervals between services, at least in the higher difficulty levels - we should have to strike a balance between pushing hard, and preserving the car.
The weather effects themselves are fine, but one thing DiRT 4 did really well was letting you choose weather independently of time-of-day. Add in some kind of dynamic weather system like in WRC8, too, for that added element of unpredictability. And bring back the occasional fog patches 😄
< added 2020-10-08: something else that would be amazing, although perhaps is a bit optimistic, is the option for snow in some locations where it makes sense, so we could for example have a Wales where it goes from cloudy and rainy one day, to proper Sweden-like snowy the next, completely changing the character of the stages. If we could do the reverse with Sweden, all the better 😄 >
Properly punishing damage (+@ApexAzimuth, @bn880, @HoksuHoo, @nPiipo)
'Hardcore' damage seems overly generous - you can bump into verges, bounce over rocks, and bottom out over jumps with virtually no problem, the car keeps happily chugging along and handling doesn't get noticeably affected. Give us the option of having realistic damage: if we bump a rock, it actually bends the axle, or breaks the suspension for that wheel; bottoming out over jumps causes major suspension damage or worse; rolling the car several times ruins the bodywork and possibly deforms the car enough that it doesn't go in a straight line properly. Have some actual consequences for crashing beyond just a few seconds time lost and a bit of a repair bill. Of course, this should be optional, because sometimes we just want to chill out and chuck a car around some forests for a bit, but it needs to be there. Another thing I think Dirt 4 did quite well was parts just plain wearing out, and this could possibly be improved by having the potential for random parts failure, e.g. lights, power steering or windscreen wipers - stuff that makes finishing the stage more difficult, but not impossible. Something else that would help the stages feel a bit more 'interactive' is if things like leaves or snow getting stuck to the front of the car could affect airflow and maybe cause your engine to overheat.
Make being online-only meaningful (+@Mike Dee, @Yaggings)
I get it, online is here to stay. Some aren't happy about that, but if that's the way things have to be, make it worth it. Have an official organised global ranking system, with persistent tiers and divisions, so people can race against others of a similar skill level and feel like they're actually accomplishing something - much more exciting to finally finish 1st in your division and get a promotion, than to be told you were 3467th fastest on that arbitrary weekly event. See Yaggings’ thread on the topic for more ideas here.
Expand on the potential of Clubs
Following on from the online thing, build Clubs fully into the game, no need to visit a website to set things up. Give us more control over the events: vehicle restrictions, multiple classes per event, more flexibility in how stages are arranged, etc. Give us a proper API so we can build our own club websites that load in live game data.
More varied stages (+@dgeesi0)
I think it's generally agreed that WRC8's stages are fantastic in design (in both the colloquial ‘really great’ sense, and the more literal ‘thing of fantasy’ sense). The variety of environments each one takes you through is great, even if the fidelity sometimes isn't. I get that DR(2)'s stages are based on real-life locations, and they're still great fun to actually drive, but it'd be great if we could have some more interesting 'features' in each stage, like towns, cliffsides, rivers, that sort of thing, even if it's at the expense of being true to life. Wales is already pretty good in this regard, with the wind farm, the riverside sections, the logging camps and of course the Sweet Lamb complex. More of that in other locations! In addition, it'd be great if at least some of the stages could be properly narrow, as in barely-wider-than-the-car narrow. This also ties in with the below point about staying on the road.
This is another thing DiRT 4 did really well, imo: all the interactive training courses in DirtFish teaching you the basics of rally driving. RBR had a similar thing, and in both cases they're enormously helpful to players trying out a 'serious' rally game for the first time, players who'd perhaps otherwise jump in a car, crash repeatedly until they give up, then get a refund off Steam. Heck, even experienced players can learn things from these courses.
More incentive to stay on the road
The roadsides are often rather too forgiving, meaning it's often fine to go wide on a corner because there's no penalty for doing so barring the occasional rock or tree. It'd be an improvement if this was at least less predictable: sometimes you'll get lucky and it'll be fairly smooth short grass, but other places might have very rough ground with bumps that'll ruin your suspension, get your car stuck or just be super muddy and slippery. Cutting corners or going wide should carry a significant risk.
Fix RaceNet's reliability problems
It's unacceptable that a system so integral to the game is so unreliable. Even going down for maintenance for an hour or so when a patch comes out seems absurd when an MMO like Guild Wars 2 can have a major expansion release with basically zero downtime.
Photo mode (+@nPiipo)
Another one I can't believe I forgot, given how much I've enjoyed using the third party camera mod, but a game as good-looking as DiRT needs a photo mode. Just imagine the social media possibilities!
Easily shareable tuning setups
DR1 did quite well here with the Steam Workshop integration, but it could be even better. Perhaps being able to export a setup as an encoded string of text, and import likewise? That way people could easily share setups on social media, forums, etc, and it would be cross-platform.
More FFB options (added 2020-10-08)
I get that the aim in DR2 was for the force-feedback to accurately replicate what you’d feel through the wheel in a real rally car, but we’re not sitting in real rally cars, we’re sitting at home, so we miss out on a ton of information that would inform our driving: g-forces, vibrations through the seat, rumbling felt through the pedals, and so on. As such, it would be great to have the option of simulating these forces through the wheel, even if it’s not strictly realistic. I know that was done to some extent with the FFB update that added vibration effects controlled by the Suspension slider, but that felt a bit shoehorned in. It would be better if there were dedicated sliders for these effects.
Smarter cockpit view (+@FlatOverCrest) (added 2020-10-08)
This is kind of a pet peeve, but at the moment the HDR autoexposure algorithm seems to be a bit primitive, and often makes things too bright or too dark. It should almost always base exposure on the road, not your car’s dashboard or the sky or some random tree. In addition, the weather effects when in cockpit view should take into account the fact that we’re looking at a 2D screen (or two of them, in VR), and can’t focus past raindrops etc. as we can in real life.
So that's my initial list. If you have any suggestions, post them here and I'll add what I can to the list. It'd be super helpful if you could go into some detail about what you want, so rather than, for example, just saying "better FFB", say what precisely the problem with the current FFB is, and what you want to feel from it. The clearer you can be about what you want, the better the chance of the devs actually taking it on board.
edit: added some more things
edit: some things from other comments here:
VR (from @Flens07)
Can't believe I forgot this one, but yeah, VR should be there from the start.
Triple-screen support (@Drummeer, @FlatOverCrest)
Along similar lines as VR, proper independent triple camera-per-screen support. Using nVidia Surround to make 3 screens act as one doesn't cut it.
A more in-depth career mode (@dani211212, @Jack4688, @ForeverYoung08, @ApexAzimuth, @HoksuHoo, @Opassac)
The career in DR2 feels kinda lifeless and machine-generated - there's no real sense of a real world the championships take part in, no real consequence for losing, no real interaction with 'your' team. Something more is needed here - perhaps not to the extent of the F1 games with their cutscenes and interviews and all that, but maybe more like WRC8, where you can visit your team's headquarters, choose research directions, try out for new teams, and so on. The progression could also do with being a little smoother and more believable, perhaps starting with a low-end car and small number of stages and events, then building up in a more organic way, rather than just having more and more stages per event.
edit: additional input from @Docut and @bn880: don't make the single-player parts always online, or at least make it much more tolerant of connection issues. I get it that you want to prevent cheating etc., but I'm not sure the decision to tie the single player championship Team stuff into the online daily/weekly/monthly/etc. events was such a good idea, because far too many people have reported problems with losing progress or being stalled in the single-player championship due to RaceNet/Steam issues.
Also: livery editor! Let us make it feel like our car.
Meaningful tyre choice (@bn880, @bogani, @HoksuHoo)
Almost nobody uses the Hard compound, because it seems pointless. Medium is plenty for any service interval in the events presented in the game, and even Soft works fine a lot of the time. Tyre wear needs to be more severe if it's to be meaningful, with the tyres wearing down to a much lower level of grip, and even having a higher risk of punctures the more they wear. Being able to rotate the tyres if they're wearing unevenly should be an option, too, and there should be some kind of live tyre monitoring - temperature, pressure, wear and so forth.
Improved menu UX ( @somethingthing, @XenialJ, @bn880)
Things like FFB and graphics options aren't explained at all, when they're often very important to the experience of driving. The big document Codies released a few months after DR2's release, explaining how the input system works in detail, was really good, and it'd be nice to have a similar thing for the graphics settings, but there should also be some text or example images in-game too.
Beyond that, though, the interface doesn't do a great job of giving you information about events up-front - you often have to load the event and wait before you know what's going on, and sometimes are forced to drive a stage when you're not ready. There's also too much jumping in and out of different menus and having to wait for 'Communicating with RaceNet' spinners.
Better pacenotes (@Deltone91, @bn880, @HoksuHoo)
The pacenotes in DR2 are ok, although timing could obviously be better in several instances, but they're also a bit simplistic. This might be fine for beginner rally drivers, but it would be good to have an 'Advanced' option where the co-driver gives more detailed information about what's coming - camber information, line suggestions, 'minus' and 'plus' refinements, more references to specific landmarks, etc. Moreover, if there was a system in-game (or even an external file we could edit, if the UI work is too much) whereby we could adjust the timing of the notes, that would be amazing. And of course if we could make our own fully custom pacenotes that'd be even more amazing.
< added 2020-10-08: As a minor addition to this, something @Yaggings mentioned: a more “human” co-driver. I mean no offence to Phil Mills of course, but because he’s so professional and able to remain calm no matter what, it can sometimes feel like he’s not really in the car with us, and doesn’t react believably to what’s happening with the car.
Also related, per @somethingthing: being able to ask our co-driver things like how far until the end of the stage, for those who like to play without a HUD. >
More 'normal' visuals (@RGgiac, @bn880, @HoksuHoo)
Now, just to be clear, I personally don't think DR2's graphics are 'cartoony' or anything of the sort. The real world can be very bright and colourful. However, the game does tend to show a somewhat idealised version of the real world - beautiful sunsets, blazing hot sunny days, impressive stormy skies. That's fine occasionally, but we need a more 'common' look - some more overcast weather, sometimes duller light, less of the beautiful sunbeams shining through misty forests, less hazy softening of the late afternoon sun. Yes, these atmospheric conditions do sometimes arise, and they make for good promotional screenshots (and us photographers love them 😄), but they're not that common in the real world. Give me a damp, overcast and slightly gloomy Wales any day, with the pretty skies being an occasional treat.
One important aspect of this is the haze - I get that it was apparently done for performance reasons, but it's not a great look.
Better sequential gearbox simulation (@bn880)
Even in Manual Sequential, the gearbox has an automatic 'clutch nanny' that prevents the engine from stalling, even though in real sequential boxes such as are modelled in the cars in game, manual clutch operation is required for this. We should have a transmission option like 'Manual Sequential with Clutch', that properly simulates how sequential gearboxes work, and would obviate the need for the 'Clutch Override' option in the Assists menu - you'd just choose 'Manual Sequential' if you didn't care about using the clutch, whereas at the moment you must use the Clutch Override option if you want to be able to clutch-kick in sequential cars, something you can't do if a multiplayer host has disabled assists.
Penalty for over-revving (@bn880)
There is no penalty for over-revving the engine. No damage, no wheels locking up, nothing. Doing something like this should result in instant terminal damage, destroying your engine and gearbox, or at the very least cause the driven wheels to lock up, resulting in loss of control.
Better 'loss of grip' physics (@bn880, @bogani)
Gravel is largely believable, and feels good, however there are a few cases where the cars seem to have too much grip. Flooring the gas pedal in a RWD car and making the wheels spin is no problem: the car pulls away just fine, no fishtailing or spinning uselessly in place. Same in corners in AWD: you can apply full throttle and the wheels just grip, like there's some hidden traction control going on. This seems particularly evident in Monte Carlo on the ice sections - despite the cars not having studded tyres, they seem to have an almost magical ability to accelerate even with wheels spinning.
Better jump physics (@bn880)
Consider spinning masses on the vehicle, and changes of rates of spin and how they should affect the vehicle mid air. Currently jumps can exhibit some weird behaviour.
Better class balance (@dgeesi0)
Some classes in DR2 are very well-balanced - R5 in particular is very even. Other classes, there are cars that are just pointless to choose unless you want to make things more difficult for yourself (e.g. Metro 6R4 in Group B). Obviously the cars are in their 'historically correct' class, but maybe there needs to be some BOP-like system for making all the cars useful, although possibly not in all game modes (time trial for example might be exempt).
Clearer DLC policy (@watzcoc, @Strittan)
I'm not personally in the 'bah rehashed content ripoff' camp, but it's clear that releasing the remastered DR1 locations steadily over the course of a year wasn't popular with everyone, especially given the lack of clarity around what will be released and when. Add in the somewhat coercive bundling and it left a sour taste in many people's mouth. Honestly, each previous location being £3.50 or whatever was, imo, perfectly ok pricing, but it would have been nice to have a bundle of all the locations for like £15, rather than the weird split Rally+RX mix we got. I get that it's a business, and that these things take work, but I think in this case the way the DLC was sold was the problem, not really the mere existence of it.
More locations in the base game (@Strittan, @StanleyGoodspeed)
I know the stages take a lot of resources to make, but it's generally expected these days that there needs to be a lot of content available at launch included in the base game. 6 is not enough. Moreover, having the equivalent of three of DR2’s long stages per location would be fantastic (and of course more would be even better, but I’m trying to be somewhat realistic 😄)
Better in-game social features (@Mike Dee)
In DR2, about all you can do when you see someone's name in a leaderboard is view their Steam page (or Xbox/Playstation profile). It'd be better if more could be done in-game - viewing profile info, sending friend requests, even in-game (voice/text) chat once both parties agree to it. This sort of thing makes players feel like part of a connected social group, rather than like they're competing against AI with weird names. Moreover, it makes people feel invested in the game and the community, thus more likely to stick around (and buy DLC 😉).
< added 2020-10-08: per @PJTierney, something that'd be cool for multiplayer would be (optional) staggered starts: rather than everyone starting together, they set off at 1 minute intervals, like in real life. Bonus points for being able to see the ghosts of other drivers, so you can clearly tell when you have (been) caught up. >
Better soft surface modelling (@bn880)
The surface degradation in DR2 is a cool feature, and definitely adds some challenge, but the way the surface degrades seems a bit random - the ruts don't seem to really follow driving lines, instead tending to be all over the road. In addition, although the surfaces are soft/loose, we never seem to get stuck in them. This is particularly apparent in the snow, where you can drive through half-metre-deep snowdrifts with no problems; this ties in with an earlier point about needing more incentive to stay on the road - one of the risks of going off should be the possibility of getting stuck in mud or snow.
Sensible field of view adjustment (@HoksuHoo)
Let us set the vertical field of view in degrees, so there's no need for weird calculations just to figure out what we're seeing. Moreover, either have the FoV adjustment affect all views, or have separate adjustments for each view (like Forza does).
Better rallycross AI (@HoksuHoo)
AI qualifier times are all over the place - you can beat the AI in your session by miles, only to have the times from the other heats be far quicker. The AI also seem to be a bit blind to your presence on the track, and make some odd joker lap choices sometimes.
Rework the upgrades system (@HoksuHoo)
It feels artificially 'gamey' to be able to upgrade your car, when in real life this sort of thing just doesn't happen, since the rules would forbid it. It's fine to improve your team, and their ability to diagnose and fix problems, etc., but upgrading your car is not realistic.
Frame rate limiter (@HoksuHoo)
Since the display driver limiters don't seem to affect the game, and lead to weird stuttering if you turn vsync off, there should be an in-game limiter.
More ‘scenario’-type stuff (@Jack4688) (added 2020-10-08)
The Colin McRae scenarios are a cool idea, and it’d be nice to have them as part of the main game, either integrated into career mode (a bit like the WRC games), or maybe even as part of online, like as daily/etc. events.
Other drivers on stage (@ThunderboltSix) (added 2020-10-08)
There doesn’t need to loads of them, but being able to catch up with, or be caught up by, other drivers on stage would really help sell the immersion, that the other names and times on the leaderboard aren’t just randomly generated.
Stats, stats, stats! (@Mike Dee, @Philigula)
All the numbers! How many miles we’ve driven (in each car, and in total); how many times we’ve rolled the car, most popular stage, most popular car, how many posts we’ve knocked over, how many spectators we’ve killed avoided at the last second. And so on. Related to this, per @michaelf, is UDP support on consoles. It’s already on PC, and allows for cool things like bass shakers, external dashboard displays, and @bn880’s RDA application, so having it on consoles would be great too.
edit: thanks for all the suggestions, folks - have added more to the list
edit: add more suggestions, and re-ordered some of the things based on popularity or necessity