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Expeditions A MudRunner Game preview - living the rock and roll life

Saber Interactive are back with Expeditions, a fresh entry into the MudRunner franchise that The Loadout saw in action behind closed doors at Gamescom 2023.

Expeditions Mudrunner game preview gameplay gamescom

During Gamescom Opening Night Live, developer Saber Interactive surprised MudRunner game fans with the existence of Expeditions. Alongside getting hands-on with Banishers Ghosts of New Eden, Focus Entertainment also invites The Loadout to a hands-off session with the latest Mudrunner title. The winch life might not be for everyone, but that could change.

Here’s the thing. For some reason, Expeditions actually reminds me a lot of Death Stranding. I can already imagine your eyebrows raising and a layer of confusion beginning to brew, but stay with me. Like other entries in the MudRunner franchise, Expeditions is all about preparation for the perils of the big bad world out there. Now, you won’t be fighting any alien-like foes with the assistance of a baby here, but you will be applying the same amount of detail into your travels.

Your vehicle is the equivalent of a cargo carrying exosuit here, and the lands of Arizona are your new playground. A Saber Interactive developer walks us through the essentials to get going. They highlight that practical upgrades for your base of operations like a repair station are a must, because you are going to wreck your transportation one way or another. You can also recruit some savvy team members to aid your exploration, each of them with a variety of buffs to become acquainted with.  Equipping tools like a deployable winch is another ingredient to success, or crucially, survival out there in the desert plains.

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Survival here is getting from A to B with minimal damage, leading “research missions” across the outback. I’m told that there are treasures and hidden trinkets to be found, but for the purposes of the preview, the only treasure here is the chassis of a new ride. It could be yours, but Expeditions doesn’t make it so easy. You can’t just pick it up like an item in any other game. You’ll be physically pulling that bad boy back to your base if you’re keen to keep it. That isn’t what we’re here for, though.

That tranquil nature found in Death Stranding emerges as I watch the developer trawl across the mountains. The sun soaks the rocks with a warm glow, but that feeling of peace is soon to be lost. We’ve hit our first major huddle – a steep incline. Expeditions’ militant-like focus on realism begins here too, as the developer stresses the importance of tire pressure, weight distribution, and proper gear management. Initially, the preview is driven with automatic shifting, but the developer chooses to give the gearbox all his attention in an attempt to climb the incline. There are some placeholders and bugs to be found in the preview build, but for the most part, menu switching is a painless affair on an Xbox Series X controller.

There’s a compelling slice-of-life element to be found in Expeditions. Games like the brilliantly charming Lake or Maxis’ simulation giant The Sims 4 veer into corners of life otherwise unseen, and charting course in a 4×4 to places unknown fits into that same sense of atmosphere. Expeditions is very much a ‘vibe’ game and though its realism does seem off-putting, I could be converted to live the way of the winch.

expeditions mudrunner gameplay gamescom

Expeditions is all about the physics of the drive. Speed is not the method of success here, and it never will be according to Saber Interactive. Expeditions isn’t going in for the level of engagement Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo 7 provides, but it is trying to assert that the core of driving is mechanical efficiency. After overcoming the challenge of an incline, there’s another element to consider: what comes up, must come down. Deploying a drone to survey the land ahead, our preview takes a drastic turn away from the realistic notions it had put forward.

Using the deployable winch, our truck can repel along surfaces like Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible. It doesn’t go all too well at first, as the truck’s physics collide hilariously with the environment. However, with some experimentation and assessment of the path ahead, the developer soon descends with ease to the surface below. All of this so far is just for the exploration of Arizona’s sandy mountains. We don’t get to see more aquatic adventures, but Saber Interactive points out that other equipment like echo sounders can estimate water depth, while metal detectors can be used to find secret loot.

There are other maps to explore in Expeditions, including a massive Carpathian Mountains area, but my hands-off preview just scratches the surface of where to go next. I’m not sure whether Expeditions will turn me into a MudRunner game convert, but there is a level of detail that is to be admired from Saber Interactive. It can be difficult making the mundane interesting, but Expeditions is living its own kind of rock and roll lifestyle.

Keep your eyes peeled for more previews, interviews, and coverage of Gamescom from The Loadout over the coming days.