After investing almost 700 hours into Codemasters brilliant rally-simulator, our Swedish editor-in-chief is ready to tell you what his ten favourite stages are...
There are over 100 rally stages in Dirt Rally 2.0 and most of them are based on real stages that have been used on one or more occasions in WRC, JWRC, PWRC or RGT. I have spent almost 700 hours in Codemaster's brilliant rally simulator and have of course driven through all the road sections a number of times, and now I have decided to simply choose the ten stages that I consider to be the absolute best.
(10) Skogsrallyt/ Sweden
The biggest single reason why I am not directly fond of Rally Sweden in Dirt Rally 2.0 has to do with how monotonous the stages are. Most of the snow environments in this game are covered by too much snow to begin with, something that was added when these environments were "updated" from Dirt Rally to Dirt Rally 2.0, and there are also too few visual differences in the environments, which means that almost everything feels like it's going on repeat. With that said, there is an exception, or at least a stage that I love in Sweden, and it is spelled Skogsrallyt. This is for several reasons. It is short, not too fast, often offers double corners that make for that lovely dancing of the back-end that Colin McRae perfected.
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(09) Descenso Por Carretera/ Spain
The shortest stage that I think Dirt Rally 2.0 contains is Carretera, which can be finished in just over two minutes. I love how technical it is, how it mixes long straight stretches with tight hairpins, double corners and bends with a double apex. I am also one of those who do not think there is anything to complain about the current asphalt physics in the game, which seems unusual.
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(08) Elsthorpe Sprint Forward/ New Zealand
Elsthorpe starts really technically. A couple of tight 3's, a few death-defying 2's near the slope or forest, but then it opens up and manages to contain a little of everything. There are sections here that mix 5's with 6's (the degree of difficulty of the corners where 1 is a hairpin) to create that beautiful flow over hills and meadows, all while the open, sun-drenched, delightfully cosy New Zealand nature caresses my eyes.
(07) Ampelonas Ormi/ Greece
Although I have driven Rally Greece in Dirt Rally 2.0 a number of times, in its entirety, it is basically only Germany and Argentina that I like less. It's often too rocky, for my liking. It slams, bounces and jumps in a way that makes me feel like a forest cyclist who has just started attacking a ravine stuffed with roots and boulders. It rarely gets really fun, but with the exception spelled Ormi, of course. For this is a magically fun stage from start to finish. The introduction is super-technically chaotic with three tight, dangerous hairpins that require a handbrake and well-thought-out lines, to then open up and offer more grippy gravel and faster parts with more flow in. The very last turn that is milliseconds after a jump, which makes you often fly down into a ravine instead of over the finish line, is also a classic.
(06) Old Butterstone Muir/ Scotland
If you really want to challenge yourself in Dirt Rally 2.0, you should choose the Butterstone Stage in Scotland, because here you often drive at 200 km/h with spruce trunks that practically lick the car's front fenders and managing to master that, is of course unbearably rewarding. I am particularly fond of the middle part where two double turns form a winding fast hook that can be attacked in the highest gear, if you dare (and choose the right line).
(05) Ascenso por valle el Gualet/ Spain
Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut! There's a entertaining, challenging, breathtakingly fast part of this stage where co-driver Phil Mills roars at you as a driver to drive tight, try to straighten the 12 small curves that come in close succession... And, when you succeed, it's an amazing feeling. The rest of the stage is also as challenging as changeable, and extremely fast.
(04) Kailajärvi / Finland
Finland is associated with insanity in this game, just like in the real WRC. This is because there are meter-sized boulders about six centimetres outside the road itself and because there are jumps where a car travels up to 25 meters in the air. Kailajärvi is a given Dirt Rally 2.0 favourite with its super-fast, technical middle section and that crazy final sprint where the rev-limiter is triggered while the car flies around like a kite.
(03) Hancock Hill Sprint Reverse/ USA
The USA Rally is a perfect place to start, if you have just installed Dirt Rally 2.0 and want to end up where nature and attractions are a little more... forgiving. No sharp edges on the side of the road as in New Zealand, no deadly fences as in Australia, no rocks (barely, at least) as in Finland and Scotland, and at least ten meters to the tree line, everywhere. Despite this, Hancock Hill is perhaps the most technical part of this rally and the stage I absolutely like the most here. Everything from the initial jump where it is very important to jerk the steering wheel a little so as not to jump into the sand bank to the left, to that collection of hairpins around hay bales to the death-defying end that goes along a rock wall, and requires both speed and determination.
(02) Annbank Station Reverse/ Scotland
Annbank, in the wrong direction, is an incredibly fun and difficult stretch that will challenge you as a driver in every conceivable way. There are uphills, downhills, jumps, hairpins that require a firm grip on the handbrake and lots of places where it is possible to drive properly tight and there is good grip in the gravel, unlike in Greece. I am pretty fond of this piece of road and absolutely think that Annbank is much, much more challenging in the "wrong" direction than if you drive it in the "Forward" version.
For me, there is no better stage in Dirt Rally 2.0 than the already legendary fast-paced Rockton Plains in Australia where you basically never go below 150 kilometres per hour, this while the world's hardest kangaroo fence is always 20 centimetres from the car in readiness to sabotage your entire rally. I'm as fond of the flat-tire-wielding devil-bridges from the beginning as I am of the sweeping 5's further into the stage and the end, up that hill at full throttle, hard left and then throw myself over the crest in the hunt of winning time - it remains the single best rally experience ever caught in a game.