While the first game in the Dirt franchise from Codemasters had a good focus on rally racing, and the move to a more varied gaming experience in Dirt 2 with modes like Gatecrasher proved to work well, the series started to go downhill with the release of both Dirt 3 and Dirt Showdown. The added focus on Gymkhana-style gameplay rather than rally driving and races didn’t sit as well with fans, while there was only a one-year gap between the two games.
Fast forward to 2015 and Codemasters had started working on enhancing Dirt Rally, which they released in early access on Steam. While that move was both an experiment and necessary due to the small team that had been working on the game, the move back to a pure rally experience with a focus on realistic handling went down very well. Even Dirt 4, which released June 2017, went back to the roots of the series while keeping it fresh with licensed World Rallycross Championship cars and locations.