It's not too often games ship with a track editor. And while DiRT 4, Codemasters' latest bump and grind through dirt, snow and gravel, doesn't ship with something to make Minecraft builders proud, it's not half bad either.
Once you're done with the multiplayer and career modes of Codies' latest bump and grind, DiRT 4 has an option called "Freeplay Championship". From there, you can create championships for each of DiRT 4's five disciplines - classic rallies, dune buggy racing, rallycross and so forth - containing multiple custom stages.
Each stage is basically a self-contained set of races set in a particular location. A stage can be a single race over 5 kilometres in the Simpson Desert; it can be seven races with varying lengths, inclines and turns on the icy roads of Sweden.
What's intriguing about it all, however, is the way each track can be procedurally generated. When you go into each stage, you're given a couple of sliders and some simple options. The sliders control each track's length and complexity, and you also have some agency over the weather conditions.
From there, it's a matter of hitting a button and letting DiRT 4 generate the rest. You can do this for every single track, if you like, and those tracks can be saved, uploaded and reused at will. You can do the same with championships as well, which is nice.
It's a really neat addition to add some much needed longevity. Fans will run through all of the courses and have the best racing lines commmited to memory within weeks, so Codies was always going to need to add something to keep players engaged for longer. It's perhaps not as exciting as a more bespoke track editor, like, the block-by-block builder that hipped with Re-Volt.
But it's ridiculously easy to use. And most of all, the procedurally generated tracks aren't bad. Codies have also blown out the limits on how far cars can fly off the track before being forced to respawn, which makes the game infinitely more interesting. And the fact that DiRT 4 follows DiRT Rally by removing the rewind function is a big plus for this sort of game as well.
There's plenty more to discover with DiRT 4, and I haven't been able to muck around with multiplayer much. But at the very least, it ticks two major boxes for me: there's less of a focus on YouTube racing and Ken Block-esque figures, and the custom creator is a sensible, functional addition that works really well. Hopefully it'll become more powerful post-release as well, but for now it's a good start.