Back in 2017 Spintires: MudRunner rolled out onto Xbox One, going down an absolute storm with the vast majority of those who played it. Here and now though we see the sequel to that game rock up into place, with SnowRunner taking everything that was great about its predecessor before moving the whole experience on somewhat. And honestly, it’s just as good an experience as it always has been.
SnowRunner is a dream for any off-road enthusiast, those who are looking for something slightly different to the norm, or the huge swathes of truckers who wish to embark on a journey through the virtual worlds. It drops you into the driver’s seat of a number of stupidly powerful trucks, artics, and scout vehicles, before tasking you to make your way across the harshest of terrains, fighting back against environmental issues such as mud, the most torrential waters, frozen lakes or through the snow. The new name is very appropriate.
By doing so you’ll discover watchtowers which open up further fogged out areas, multiple tasks, challenges, missions and a ton more. It is these which will really let your time with SnowRunner shine, rewarding you with in-game cash upon completion, letting you purchase new vehicles and add-ons, along with XP points to further your trucking career. By unlocking and utilising the huge variety of options that can be added to your fleet of vehicles – the likes of different tyres, exhaust types, better engines and more – you’ll find that your tasks are made slightly easier.
The more you explore SnowRunner, the more you’ll discover the enjoyment within. Making your way to a local warehouse in order to pick up cargo and then spend time transporting that to another part of the map, helping fix a rickety old bridge, removing a fallen electricity pylon from blocking the road, or ensuring that the local farm is well-stocked, is pretty much what the majority of your time will be taken in by, with much repetition found throughout. Effectively, you’ll drive from point A, over to point B, and back again. Slowly. Numerous times.
In your time with SnowRunner you’ll be left with many decisions to make. What vehicle type is best for the situation at hand? Do you have that exact truck or do you need to head to the garage to purchase a new one? How exactly will you get past that flooded river? How on earth are you going to make that timed delivery in the safest manner? With vehicles covering many different classes – Heavy duty, Highway, Heavy, Offroad, and Scout – and provided by real world manufacturers like Ford, Chevrolet, Freightliner and more, how you go about working your way through SnowRunner is pretty much up to you. Trial and error – and the use of the in-game auto-recovery back to a checkpoint when everything goes wrong – is a huge part of SnowRunner.
Content-wise and this is a game that will keep you going for quite literally months on end, with a huge array of options and opportunities arising. And in order to keep you interested, it looks bloody brilliant too. In fact, in terms of visuals, Saber Interactive and Focus Home Interactive have pulled out all the stops with a game that is as visually appealing as they come. Obviously it’s the vehicles you find yourself driving which are the stars of the show, and each and every single one of these is highly detailed and extremely customisable, with hardly a graphical glitch in place. Whilst I’m not really in a position to sit here and tell you that the Chevrolet Kodiak C70 or the Azov 42-20 Antarctic have been recreated to the nth degree, from the layman’s point of view every single truck you get behind the wheel of looks great and handles as you would expect a heavy old hunk of metal to do so. And as you begin to work your way across multiple terrain types, you will fast discover that each of these has a huge effect on how you go about your business. Ever tried stopping a rig with a crane arm attached on a frozen lake?
The landscapes you find yourself trudging through rarely fail to impress either. It may not be all shine and sparkle, but this isn’t a world that should even attempt to do that; from the starting scenes of Michigan right through to the unlockable harsh landscapes of Alaska or the Syberian woods of Taymyr, everything in SnowRunner looks great. I didn’t think I’d ever sit down and wax lyrical about a pile of old mud, but tracks, fields, roads and anywhere else you may look to explore in SnowRunner come across as looking the part. It’s hugely impressive and is helped out even more by a brilliant physics system too, ensuring that should you put one wheel out of place, digging deep into the mire, your progress will fast come to a halt as you attempt to find a nearby winching point and drag yourself out of trouble. Honestly, while SnowRunner doesn’t give the same amount of joy as you’d find in nailing a specific lap time in the best racers, or pulling off a crazy backwards-spinning airborne goal in Rocket League, there is something ever so pleasing about pulling yourself out of a bad situation. I just wish that the winch system was a little more compliant, as cycling through multiple winch points on your vehicle, before then doing the same in order to attach to a specific tree or telegraph pole, can occasionally be a frustration.
It sounds great too, and accompanying the usual engine screams, deep exhaust notes and gear changes come the bangs and crashes of your vehicle as you work your way across the remote terrains. It also comes with a seriously good backing soundtrack which further allows you to become immersed in the backwoods banter that SnowRunner deals with.
In terms of what SnowRunner brings, for a solo player it certainly delivers the goods, letting any lone trucker the chance to slowly traverse their way across multiple worlds, as fast or as slow as they deem fit. It’s this which is utterly key to the success of SnowRunner and it works brilliantly well, but those who prefer to work as a team can also do so, letting you go trucking with mates via online cooperative options. As you would expect, it’s great to be able to rely on a friend or two to drag you out of the proverbial crap. Personally, due to the slow pace the world provides, I’ve much preferred to work at my own pace and put up with the struggles that brings, but it’s nice to have the option there.
But like any game, SnowRunner isn’t perfect and there are certainly a few things that hold this back from being an absolute must-player. First up is the overall pace of the game, and unfortunately the slow nature of how this off-road beast unfolds will see many turning away, heading back to the many faster-paced, adrenaline-fuelled vehicular-based titles that are available. That would be a shame, but it’s the way of the world, and the precision, the placement, the grind and the repetition required in order to find success in SnowRunner just means that many will see their head turned by altogether sexier, racier affairs.
It’s not helped by the fact that the vast majority of your time in SnowRunner will be spent moving from point A, to point B, and then over to point C time and time again, grabbing gear and kit from one part of the world before transporting it safely over to another. Initially this is absolutely fine – let’s be honest, it’s a big part of the game – and exploring the stunning landscapes that SnowRunner revels in is all part of the charm. But slowly and surely, as you find yourself stuck deep, constantly battling with the winch to drag yourself out of trouble, the enthusiasm does begin to drain away. Again, for those who found huge enjoyment with the previous game, this will never be an issue, but for many it will.
Honestly though, other than the obvious slow pace that it brings, there is little to dislike about SnowRunner on Xbox One. It’s a hugely immersive game that ticks a whole ton of boxes for those looking to gain new off-roading kicks, and the sheer amount of variety in terms of the vehicles, the trailers and the customisation and amendments that can be made to these is nothing short of stunning. Throw in a whole ton of content in the form of main missions, tasks and challenges, and if you’re up for getting down and dirty, then there is possibly no better place to get started than with SnowRunner.