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Pacific Drive perfectly captures the crappiness of your first car

Infecting your car with troublesome tricks, Pacific Drive’s quirks are fun, frustrating, and the perfect way to reflect on your first crappy car.

Pacific Drive quirks: A station wagon driving through a fog-filled forest.

Your janky jalopy is the beating heart of Pacific Drive; you won’t last long out in the harsh and ever-changing wilds of the Olympic Exclusion Zone without it. However, your trusty vehicle is hardly a showroom model. Throughout your journey, your car will suffer from Pacific Drive’s quirks – effects that are picked up from being exposed to anomalies. It’s thanks to this feature that the PS5 console exclusive perfectly encapsulates the love (and frustration) I and many others have for their crappy first car.

As you brazenly careen through Pacific Drive’s enigmatic Olympic Exclusion Zone – a walled-off area of the Pacific Northwest infested with supernatural anomalies – like you’re playing one of the best racing games, your trusty station wagon will be infected with quirks. Once you get back to the garage, your only safe haven in this unique survival game, you can diagnose these quirks to (hopefully) return your car back to normal.

Using a fun ‘if this, then this’ system, quirks can range from having all your doors fall off when switching your engine off to having your car’s hood pop up to obscure your vision when you turn your headlights on. It’s not all bad though, some quirks can be helpful, like getting a speed boost when you flash your headlights. If you’re trying to escape a storm, then this is a surprisingly good malfunction – and one that you might not want to fix back at the garage.

Pacific Drive quirks: The Tinker Station showing the various parts that can be effected by quirks and the impacts they can have.

Whether your car’s quirks are frustrating, almost unnoticeable, or even handy, it’s hard not to find them utterly charming. My jalopy is already held together with only a few nuts and bolts, plagued with rust, so having doors randomly opening only gives it more character. After all, your car is all you have to get by in the Exclusion Zone, so you have to make do.

As I’ve been scavenging for materials to slowly upgrade my car from a rickety old mess to a slightly less rickety old mess, decked out with equally makeshift sci-fi tech, I’ve found myself forming a strong bond with my wagon. Mine even has wonky headlights. I’m on the hunt for better equipment, more bobbleheads, and stylish gear sticks to deck it out with. If I look after my car it should (hopefully) return the favor when I charge headlong into anomalies like hot dust or wriggling wrecks as I make my escape.

Pacific Drive quirks: A pale blue car in the garage shown from the front at a slight angle. It has mismatched headlights and a makeshift bumper.

These random malfunctions are charming in the same sense that your first car is your favorite. I’m sure many reading this will have had a car – most likely your first – that’s a bit shabby and constantly has something wrong with it. Perhaps the engine is a little squeaky, perhaps it requires an odd ritual to open the door, or perhaps your seats need some extra oomph to alter. It almost certainly needs to be checked by a mechanic, though you can bet you’ll be met with a hefty bill. It’s not ideal, but these characteristics give your hunk of metal a great deal of personality, no matter how much of a headache they cause you.

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And it’s that feeling that Pacific Drive perfectly recreates. Having your hood pop up to obscure your vision as you’re making a break for the exit could quite easily ruin your run, possibly setting you back an hour or so in lost progress as a result, but I’m never mad with my car. I need my car and I need to look after my car, which involves paying close attention to it to correctly identify and remedy its quirks when I can.

All in all, Pacific Drive’s quirks are an ode to your first car – one of the many reasons why this PS5 exclusive is one of the most surprisingly evocative new PS5 games out there. If you’re up for a survival game with a twist, plus a dash of Alan Wake 2’s supernatural horror, then Pacific Drive is one of the best PS5 games for you.