|RELEASE DATE||10/31/2017 (Base Game); 10/23/2018 (American Wilds)|
|PLATFORMS||PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC/Steam, Nintendo Switch|
|PUBLISHER||Focus Home Interactive|
|ONLINE PASS||N/A (Most DLC is free - American Wilds is $9.99 USD)|
First things first – I want to thank Carly Shields (@UpgradedShields on Twitter) for the code I received – both for the main game originally, and the new DLC that this review is for.
This review will act as kind of a review of both the main game and the DLC, since American Wilds doesn’t really change much about the game.
This specific review is based on the Playstation 4 version of the game, and was played on a standard, 500GB PS4.
I enjoy MudRunner. It took some time to grow on me, but once I really started to get used to how it worked and what it was asking for, I started having a lot more fun with it.
That said, it’s not a game with a lot of, well, game in it. It sits way on the “hardcore simulator” end of the simulator-arcade line, joining the ranks of games like Farming Simulator or Euro Truck Simulator.
The new American Wilds DLC doesn’t really change that – it just adds more of the same.
That’s not a bad thing, mind you. MudRunner is a pretty good simulator, after all. One that prides itself on actually doing what it set out to do without the jank and weirdness of some of its contemporaries.
Water reacts realistically to your vehicle – driving into deep water even damages the engine and can cause it to stall. Stalling in a river could result in your vehicle even washing away downstream.
Muddy roads get realistically deformed as your heavy truck displaces the soil, forming grooves that can throw off your camber. Trees get bent and broken as you push through or winch your way out of a ditch.
It’s good stuff, honestly.
Spintires as a whole is mostly about driving cars and trucks in the mud – Mudding, or mud-bogging.
MudRunner takes that core concept and applies it to another real-world activity – logging. A job in which you cut down trees, load them up in the back of a big truck and then haul them off to a lumber mill to sell them.
In MudRunner’s case – it’s the loading and hauling part that gets the focus (And really, it’s just the hauling.) The logs are pre-cut, and there are some very “video game-y” ways that they appear in the back of your truck – by having 4 logs that were loaded in with a crane somehow turn into an entire truckload, or by having a truckload miraculously appear by holding a button.
That’s about where the gamey-ness ends, though. The rest of the game – from driving through the dirt and mud to reach logging stations to hauling the load through swamps – very much plays like a simulator.
All of this also occurs within the American Wilds DLC – it doesn’t add anything too radical to the core game, just some new maps, challenges, and vehicles – though this time they’re actually licensed with the likes of Chevrolet, Hummer, and Western Star (That’s probably why the DLC costs $10 USD).
My second biggest gripe with the main game, aside from the fact that there just isn’t a lot of actual “game”, is that all of the maps in the base game are quite dreary. Including those added (for free) in the other 2 DLCs – The Ridge & The Valley.
While the actual gameplay is fun – the washed-out, drab colors of the base maps can get to be a bit taxing and make things feel even more like work than they already do. This is a bummer – because the maps themselves are great fun to mess around in and explore.
Color matters – a lot – when it comes to the mood you want to set.
Thankfully American Wilds solves this issue by bringing some much-needed life into the game. I can only hope maps in the sequel take after this.
The vehicles, too, are fun to drive and explore in – but it does seem weird to add so many trucks that aren’t suitable for offroad circumstances in a game about offroading. 1/3rd (One-third) of the vehicles added (That’s 3 out of the total 9) aren’t built to handle driving in the mud.
Luckily – the new maps included with the DLC have a much heavier focus on actual roads. There are a lot more paved roads in the Grizzly Creek and Mount Logmore areas, so while the Chevy Bison won’t be carrying logs through watery mud pits, it can carry other resources along those roads to other players/locations on the map.
The 2 new challenges (The challenges, by the way, being the most “game-like” part of the game, featuring specific objectives for you to achieve in specific areas of specific maps, each with 3 bonus objectives that range from not damaging the vehicle to finding a field of fluorescent flowers.) are also fun – but nothing special and not too much different from those included in the main game. They just feature the maps and vehicles from the DLC.
As a whole, American Wilds is worth getting – it’s only $10 and the new maps are honestly fun. The foresty, rocky & mountainous landscapes of Montana and North Dakota definitely make for some good offroad fodder. The new vehicles are fun – and the new challenges are just that, new challenges.
That said – it is just more of the same at its core, so if you didn’t enjoy your time with the base MudRunner title (Or you weren’t interested in the first place), the new DLC won’t change your tune, unless your only issue was that the maps were bland and boring.
Otherwise – yeah, pick up American Wilds. It’s affordable, adds a decent amount of content to the game and the maps are different enough to feel fresh and new, even though you’re still doing the same thing as you always were.
And for the trophy/achievement hunters out there – this DLC actually adds a handful of new, simple trophies/achievements to get, unlike the 2 free ones before it. They won’t exactly pump your Gamerscore super high, but they’re easy to get.
All-in-all, American Wilds is a decent expansion to MudRunner, and I do hope it’s a sign of where they may be going for the sequel – but I’d like to see a little more focus on giving some more actual “game” with MudRunner 2.