Dirt 5 has a pretty good variety of game modes for players to try out. First up is the story campaign, where you’ll hear Troy Baker playing your mentor as he pushes you to take bigger and bigger races. I say hear, because the story campaign is really just a series of podcast-like conversations that you get in between races. No cutscenes, no real story - just a bunch of people commentating on your races. Nolan North and Troy Baker star here, but neither deliver an exceptional enough performance to overcome the by-the-numbers script they’re given.
If that seems pretty uninspired, I’m sorry to say that the rest of the campaign isn’t any better. You’ll progress via a series of branching matches, with choices here and there on which ones you want to take on. Some of them are races, while others have you pursue different objectives - such as finishing a lap within a certain amount of time. You’ll also get a couple of challenges here and there to complete, which feel ham-fisted at best. To keep on chugging through the story, you’ll need to complete them and earn enough stamps to qualify for the next batch of races.
You can also race online against other players, although I had very little luck in securing a match. The Playgrounds mode is a lot more interesting, allowing you to create tracks and play through ones that others have created. I’ve already seen a ton of wild creations from the community - such as an obstacle course-like map that has you try to beat the clock. It’s another great way for you to just jump in for a race or two, and explore the weird races others have created for you.
Dirt 5 doesn't have you grind to get more cars and unlock races, and I truly appreciate it for that. It’s a much more casual jaunt, allowing you to hop in and out of a couple matches at your leisure. I was honestly surprised at how quickly I was gaining currency and unlocking cars - given that most games of this genre really squeeze as much playtime out of me as they can.
The way its vehicles handle might not fill the sim-racing hole in your heart, but the fun, cheery vibe of its races and the gorgeous vistas you’ll visit more than make up for it. The campaign is admittedly flavourless, and its other game modes might lack longevity (besides Playgrounds) - but not every game is meant to be played forever. This is still a fun globetrotting adventure for those looking for a couple casual races, and it’s really good-looking to boot.