While handling varies between vehicles, gameplay generally falls somewhere between arcade and simulation racing, making it easy to jump behind the wheel and negotiate simple corners while retaining enough complexity and realism to challenge driving experts. This also extends to the game's approach to difficulty settings. You can select one of six levels before each race, and while you can progress playing the entire Dirt Tour on Easy, upping the challenge rewards you with more prize money and XP.
Increasing the difficulty also reduces the number of Flashbacks available - a feature that will be familiar to fans of Race Driver: GRID. At any point, you can press the SELECT button to bring up a replay of the previous few seconds. Pressing the Square button returns you to the exact point being replayed; effectively letting you rewind time after a missed corner or a bad crash.
Race events come in various types: the closed circuit events are Rallycross, which is off-road racing for up to eight cars on tight, intricate tracks, and Landrush, where cars all start side-by-side and circuits feature more dramatic changes in elevation.
Rally events are open, point-to-point races in which drivers' starts are staggered to try and keep them apart; Trailblazer races are similar, and feature straight, narrow courses that let you build great speed and feel the very limit of your car's control. If you prefer a bit of contact, then Raid events let all drivers loose at the same time, on branching courses that include potentially lethal shortcuts.
Adding further variety are the special events: Gatecrasher is a time-trial challenge where you must crash through barriers and finish the race before the timer expires; Domination charges you with completing each section of a track more quickly than your rivals, not necessarily crossing the finish line first; and in Last Man Standing, the last placed competitor is eliminated whenever the timer runs out, and the winner is whoever survives.