DiRT: Showdown is an entry in the DiRT racing series and unlike the previous titles it is less of a rally game and focuses more on short circuit tracks with public in the stands, a commentator, a larger scope of vehicles, and action-based gameplay. The main game mode is constructed through a tour system; a series of events and races where winning opens up new challenges and provides prize money to acquire new vehicles op upgrade them. Next to classic racing many tracks are filled with debris, there is boost available and often other vehicles need to be damaged. Unlike previous games most cars are fictional. Real cars can only be used for certain events.
The main game modes are divided over four categories: Racing, Demolition, Hoonigan and Party.
- Racing includes different events with regular circuit racing, point-based racing where a circuit is divided into sectors with points for the fastest time in each, and elimination where a timer counts down eliminating the last driver until one remain. In this mode there are often obstacles and debris on the track.
- Demolition is centered around taking out opponents, either in a regular bowl head-to-head (Rampage), or on an elevated track where other cars can be knocked off (Knock Out). There is also a survival mode (Hard Target) where the player’s car is targeted by the others, and 8-Ball as a circuit race with multiple crossovers where cars can collide.
- Hoonigan is similar to the Gymkhana mode from DiRT 3. The goal is to score points by performing tricks, either alone (Trick Rush) or against an opponent (Head 2 Head). A third mode is Smash Hunter where the car needs to smash through bricks of the team’s colour and avoid the other ones.
- Party is only available in multiplayer. It contains Smash & Grab where a team can grab loot and needs to hold on to it. It is lost when an opponent hits the car. Transporter is regular capture-the-flag, and Speed Skirmish is a time-based event where checkpoints need to be reached in any order.
The game offers split-screen multiplayer for two players and up to eight players online. It includes the Racenet social service to track statistics and there is a Crashback replay function to capture crashes and upload them directly to YouTube.