HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewExpeditions: A MudRunner Game Review

Expeditions: A MudRunner Game Review

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As a newcomer to the MudRunner/SnowRunner series, there was something instantly appealing to me when Expeditions was first announced. It’s a driving game, but you’re not racing. Instead, traversing these untamed lands feels more like an environmental puzzle game. But I was also preparing myself for the steep (literally) learning curve.

Expeditions: A MudRunner Game is a driving simulator that will see you traversing some pretty harsh and desolate locations. You will be completing a long list of missions in these environments, but the basic premise of them all is to get from A to B, sometimes with cargo, other times to explore the area. There is a little bit of a blurb on the mission select screen to give you a bit of context, but honestly, these missions are all mutually exclusive from one another.

The main thing you will be looking for in these info screens will be the difficulty of each mission.

Expeditions A MudRunner Game Review 1
The rough and tumble of Expeditions: A MudRunner Game

Expeditions even had the gall to lull me into a false sense of security. There are three locations to choose from: the baby training area of Little Colorado, the harsh desert of Arizona and the colourful but deadly Carpathians. Naturally, Little Colorado is the best place to start.

A few training missions will introduce the basic concept of Expeditions, along with the various truck types and things to unlock. During these you will also learn about the simulation aspects of Expeditions that help separate it from a simple driving game.

You know a game is a driving simulation when you are required to even do things like turning the engine on or releasing the handbrake. Once you have figured those out, you can begin your Expeditions.

The early missions will introduce mechanics such as the tyre pressure and the control panel, and it does a good job of showing you how these affect your driving. Tyre pressure is especially important as the lower the pressure, the more grip you have essentially. It is always worth doing so before you attempt a steep climb or some boggy terrain, and you can really feel the difference in performance when making these slight tweaks. Of course, the trade off for this is the increased fuel usage, but thankfully there is a dial for that too.

For most of the early missions, fuel is not going to be an issue. But on longer and more dangerous treks, bringing extra fuel and spare parts with you is crucial if you want to succeed. Most vehicles have space for additional supplies, and you can upgrade them over time with better storage and performance capabilities. Or even, purchase a new ride with enough funds.

Expeditions A MudRunner Game Review 2
Where you trekking?

You can also employ specialists that you unlock as you progress. They will need paying, but can also provide bonus perks to help you complete an expedition. They can help improve fuel usage, terrain exploration and expand your drone signal range. Some specialists can even help barter a better payout after completing a mission. Again, in earlier expeditions, these are nice but not required, but in harder missions can make all the difference.

Yes, you read that correctly – you do have access to a drone in Expeditions, and it quickly becomes an essential tool. The land is harsh and rugged, and it isn’t always easy to see the safest route to take. The drone will hover above and help you plot out a route. It is limited by its range somewhat, but it shouldn’t be underestimated.

After completing a set number of missions, you can gain access to Free Roam for that particular area. Unfortunately, you really need to go at the missions before this unlock, as it takes far too long to become available. But this is perhaps where Expeditions: A MudRunner Game is at its most cathartic.

When Free Roam unlocks, you will have undoubtedly scouted out several side missions and other points of interest from the missions themselves. Here is the best place to attempt them, and earn some decent rewards on the way. Here, it is just you, your vehicle and some sweet Americana rock music for company. You can spend as little or as much time in Free Roam as you like, providing you have the fuel and spare parts to back you up. And you can always return to an unlocked outpost to restock.

The environments themselves though, are underwhelming. On one hand, it is impressive to be able to feel every rock and piece of terrain under your wheels, even when using a standard controller (Expeditions does support steering wheel peripherals). In other games, seeing a rock or small boulder in the road wouldn’t be cause for concern. But here, it really does throw your vehicle off camber and you will need to correct it.

Expeditions A MudRunner Game Review 3
You’ll need to drag yourself through Expeditions

On the other hand though, these environments simply aren’t that much fun to explore. Even after just a short time, I felt like I had seen everything they had to offer: airdrops to help with supplies, the very occasional upgrade stash, and the odd cool thing to look at that isn’t simply another rock. It could be a downed plane or a ruined building, but again these are few and far in between.

I never thought I’d say this about a game, but Expeditions: A MudRunner Game needs collectibles or something else to make Free Roam a bit more worthwhile. Put them at the peak of the climbs or under the surface of the water with only a very narrow safe route to find them and thus require the use of the echo sounder.

As it stands, there is something missing from Expeditions: A MudRunner Game. Whether that be the online co-op (due out later), a lack of meaningful activity in Free Roam or just something to spice up the lifeless main campaign; it feels a bit empty right now. The actual driving is fun and can even be calming at times, as you go navigating the tough terrain and getting into a rhythm, but the environments mirror the wider issues, being bereft of anything meaningful. After just a few missions in each location, you have pretty much seen everything the game can offer, and will be left waiting for the next bit of meaty content to arrive. 

Only, like a lost expedition, it never arrives.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Driving is fun and challenges you to strategise
  • Later levels require some real planning beforehand
Cons:
  • Lack of points of interest in the environments
  • Missing online co-op at launch
  • Mission structure feels empty
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Focus
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 5 March 2024 | £44.99
Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Driving is fun and challenges you to strategise</li> <li>Later levels require some real planning beforehand</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Lack of points of interest in the environments</li> <li>Missing online co-op at launch</li> <li>Mission structure feels empty</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Focus</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 5 March 2024 | £44.99</li> </ul>Expeditions: A MudRunner Game Review
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