Expeditions: A MudRunner Game preview - Chaos ensues

Expeditions: A MudRunner Game preview - Chaos ensues
Images via Saber Interactive

Written by 

Harry Boulton

Published 

9th Jan 2024 17:01

Expeditions brings the MudRunner series back into the dirt after a short snowy diversion, and there's certainly a lot to look forward to for new players and seasoned truckers alike.

While car-centric games have historically focused on tarmac tracks and a race against the clock, the MudRunner series proposes a new opponent in the form of the ground itself. Often you'll find yourself stumbling over rock formations or wading through door-high water, all in the name of making a simple delivery in the dangerous mountain range.

I was able to get a taste of Expeditions: A MudRunner Game's three new regions in a preview, and there's plenty in store behind the ever-precarious wheel.

It's gonna be a bumpy ride

Image of driving in first person in Expeditions: A Mudrunner Game
Click to enlarge
Image via Saber Interactive

For me, one of the most amusing aspects of playing a driving game is that I can't drive in real life, so the prospect of manning a supercar on a race track or - in this instance - a truck in a hazardous landscape seems quite ridiculous.

Expeditions, much like its two older siblings, place you in countless situations where something is bound to go wrong. A flipped truck seems rather trivial to me at this point, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't accidentally send my truck barrelling off a cliff at one point too.

I've always found the comparisons between Kojima Productions' Death Stranding and the MudRunner series incredibly illuminating, as both engage in the rather QWOP-esque feat of staying on your two legs (or four wheels in this case). Both are experiences where the world is a character (or perhaps a foe) in of itself and your understanding and recognition of its danger is crucial to your own success.

There remains a fascinating intentionality to every single action that you take in Expeditions, where you really have to be confident in whether an acceleration, brake, or winch is the right choice at that moment.

Image of a rocky valley in Expeditions: A Mudrunner Game
Click to enlarge
Image via Saber Interactive

Weighing up the cost of your actions continually makes your own choices meaningful through each expedition too. Reducing the pressure on your tires makes traversing rocky or unstable terrain easier, but comes at the cost of increased fuel consumption. You could always take more fuel in preparation for this, but a heavier truck moves slower, is harder to save when stuck, and still eats more gas.

Even though I was only able to jump into a handful of Expeditions' many challenges, I found this balancing act to be at the heart of what makes the game so much fun.

Prepping for the journey

Image of truck customisation in Expeditions: A Mudrunner Game
Click to enlarge
Image via Saber Interactive

Before you jump into the muddy action, you'll have to make sure that your truck is adequately prepared for the road ahead. I was only able to see a glimpse of what was on offer here, but there seems to be an abundance of customisation and ways to progress your truck as you complete more expeditions.

It could be something as simple as upgrading your wheels to deal with certain terrain better, or something much more expansive like increasing your cargo storage for an essential gadget.

Much like the actions you take while on each expedition though, it's essential to weigh up what stuff you bring before you head out - as it's not as simple as covering all the bases. You only have a certain amount of slots, and you don't want to regret that you took that extra can of fuel over a spare wheel when you're stuck in the desert.

The beautiful outdoors

Image of a woodland area in Expeditions: A Mudrunner Game
Click to enlarge
Image via Saber Interactive

Another thing that stood out to me when playing was how great Expeditions: A MudRunner Game looks in action. Its landscapes remain impressive, especially in the variance between the dry, orange-hued deserts and lush green forest spaces, but the true detail continues to be shown on a smaller scale.

Critical to the success of a game like Expeditions is the feedback that you get from every action. The dust and dirt that coughs out from underneath your wheels as they spin out of control, the sinking sludge of mud that you should've avoided, and the ferocious streams of water that serve almost like a boss.

It is great that the worlds you drive around in look fantastic, but the real triumph comes from the visual tactility you uncover in your battle against the earth itself. What would a game like MudRunner be after all without a wonderful recreation of sludge itself?

Previewed on PC. Code provided by the publisher.

Expeditions: A MudRunner Game launches on March 5, 2024.

Harry is a Guides Writer at GGRecon, having completed a Masters of Research degree in Film Studies. Previously a freelance writer for PCGamesN, The Loadout, and Red Bull Gaming, he loves playing a wide variety of games from the Souls series to JRPGs, Counter-Strike, and EA FC. When not playing or writing about games and hardware, you're likely to find him watching football or listening to Madonna and Kate Bush.

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