Review: Expeditions: A MudRunner Game – Conquer the Uncharted

Review Expeditions: A MudRunner Game

Developed by Saber Interactive and published by Focus Entertainment, Expeditions: A MudRunner Game is the latest title in the long-running off-road simulation franchise. When it comes to making hardcore off-road simulation titles, Saber Interactive is not new to the genre as the previous release SnowRunner is considered one of the best ones in the genre with its focus on no handholding, open-world, harsh off-roading simulation gameplay. With the newer Expeditions: A MudRunner Game, Saber Interactive seems to be experimenting with a new direction for the franchise by releasing a more linear, mission-oriented, and player-friendly game. This is our review of Expeditions: A MudRunner Game on the Xbox Series X in which we explore gorgeous open maps and try not to get stuck in every fallen tree we come across on our adventures.

As soon as you boot the game, you are introduced to the first region Little Colorado which serves as a tutorial. You are gradually introduced to all of the new features of the game including gameplay, completion of different types of missions, and everything else. You will notice instantly that Expedition ditches the open-world exploration element to a more mission-oriented progression system where you take part in main missions called Expeditions to complete the game’s Career mode. These Expeditions focus on specified tasks that you must complete to complete the mission and once you have completed the main task, you can either decide to stay on the map and explore or head back to the main menu to start the next mission. Some campaigns are multi-mission ones so you will need to complete all of their respective Expeditions to experience the complete story.

Review Expeditions: A MudRunner Game

It sounds pretty easy but you need to prepare well for each of these Expeditions. Before you can jump into an Expedition, you are taken to the preparation screen where you must prepare properly for the expedition. Some general expedition knowledge is also shared here which gives you an estimate on different things like what sort of terrain you will need to tackle, the distance you will travel by following the optimal path as well as what equipment you will need for the task ahead. This is the screen that will make or break your expedition experience because proper preparation is always necessary even for the simplest of expeditions. Here, you will select your trucks, your team of specialists, and any specialized equipment required for the task at hand. You can also access your garage at this screen if you want to customize your trucks to make off-roading easier.

There are three main types of trucks in Expeditions. You have your scouts for easier tasks such as exploration and scouting missions. These are smaller trucks that offer great maneuverability but they lack storage space so you cannot equip a lot of devices on them for your expeditions. Off-road trucks are much bigger and they offer much more storage for resources and on-site collection. You can take them on longer expeditions as they can hold more fuel and stock up on spare parts.

Review Expeditions: A MudRunner Game

Finally, the biggest of the lot are the Heavies which are the biggest of the bunch. These behemoth machines are the most capable off-roaders as they can tackle any terrain, and come with the biggest storage options but they are the hardest to control as well. You can pick the one that is needed for your current expedition. Each expedition allows you to take four well-equipped vehicles with you and you can switch between them during the expedition at any time.

The garage offers you a place to not only place requirement devices on your vehicles but also modify your trucks to improve their performance in different scenarios. Depending on the truck, you get plenty of options to play around with such as front bumpers, rear bumpers, roof racks, colors, paint jobs, and more. Some of the items require cash for purchase and once you purchase them, they are unlocked forever for you however some of the items are initially locked and you must complete specific expeditions to unlock them. Specialized devices are always free of cost but progression is required to unlock them as well. Some of the customization options will give you additional slots for storing fuel and spare parts. With some time spent in the garage, you can completely transform your truck into a proper off-roading rig.

Some of the consumable inventory items and devices require money for purchasing them while some of them are free. At the start of each Expedition, the sponsor may provide some upfront payment for these items but if you want some extra items, you will have to pay them from your pocket. However, if you do not use these Anchor Points, Jacklifts, or any other item such as Fuel or Spare Parts, at the end of the Expedition, these are reimbursed and you get your money back. In addition, if you find any extra Fuel, Spare Parts, or other items during your expeditions, you can sell them for extra money as well. Completing tasks also gives you money rewards and I was happy to see that the game is not too grindy when it comes to earning money. You can easily have a decent bank account after completing a few expeditions and purchasing new trucks, upgrades, and more.

The expeditions are based in different landscapes including the harsh deserts of Little Colorado and Arizona or the mountainous green regions of Carpathians and Kanab Creek. Each of these maps is meticulously detailed with tough terrains, harsh climbs, and plenty of other terrain challenges that you will need to overcome to explore these beautiful locations. None of the maps are explored when you first jump into them and they are covered in a fog of war that you must uncover by exploring and using different devices such as binoculars, drones, or the radar. By using binoculars, you can also highlight and mark important points of interest on your maps such as airdrops, climbs, resource zones, and more. Each map offers a diverse range of opportunities to you such as Expeditions which serve as main missions and side activities which include completing tasks, contracts, and finding collectibles which are essentially truck upgrades.

The main Expeditions must be launched directly but the tasks and contracts can be completed during an expedition or while in the Free Roam mode. If you are playing an Expedition, it will end after you complete all of the main tasks however completing certain expeditions unlocks that particular region’s Free Roam mode where you can explore the complete map with any trucks you want and without any restrictions. Here, you are free to complete tasks and contracts which are much smaller missions and you can easily complete them even during any active expedition. These range from hunting for dinosaur bones to reaching certain high points if you are just starting a map. Each map offers its unique contracts and tasks for you to complete. If you want even more exploration, you can throw a metal detector at the top of your truck and explore every nook-and-cranny of each map and find new truck upgrades. These are performance upgrades that are worth spending the extra time looking for them.

The gameplay is the main element of Expeditions: A MudRunner Game as it tilts more towards simulation than arcade. When directly compared with SnowRunner, a lot of mechanics are now toned down and you will find some arcade mechanics thrown in the mix but ultimately, it is still a difficult simulation game that will require careful planning and strategy. Depending on your chosen truck, you will need different supplies with you including tools and devices which will help you navigate through the treacherous terrains. While fuel is always a challenge, you will need to watch out for your truck’s health as well as hitting rocks, and other obstacles will damage different components of your truck. You will need Spare Parts to repair any damage to your truck and fuel to make sure that your engine always has something to burn.

All of this is made really easy thanks to Expeditions’ simple yet effective UI. On your lower right side, you have the vehicle control panel that allows you to change gears, change differential, and drivetrain settings. You will need to use these options to adjust your vehicle’s power delivery during harsh terrains. On the lower left side, you will find the vehicle status panel that shows the condition of different parts of your truck including its fuel level. If something takes damage, you can repair it here and re-fuel your truck as well.

A simple press of a button opens up the tire pressure menu from where you can adjust your truck’s tire air pressure on the go and pressing left and right on the D-Pad opens up your devices and inventory menus from where you can use different gadgets stored in your inventory or truck. You will need to use these devices to assist you in different things on your expeditions. For example, the echo sounder allows you to measure the depths of water bodies so that you can safely cross them, the metal detector points towards resources, while the winch allows you to pull or push your truck if you get stuck somewhere.

Review Expeditions: A MudRunner Game

Expeditions: A MudRunner Game has all of the elements of being an excellent off-road simulation game. The simple UI combines beautiful and huge open-world maps with tons of missions to go through, great trucks, and an in-depth customization system, or if you are not feeling any obligations, the stress-free Free Roam option, and a modding community that is always adding great new content to the game. While it may have ditched its hardcore simulation nature of the previous titles, it has instead evolved into a more accessible version of an off-road simulator that can be enjoyed by a lot more players.

Expeditions is getting new content through free updates as well but the main lifeline of the game is through its brilliant modding community. A single glance at the dedicated Mods section of the game will introduce you to tons of new mods developed for the game. These include new trucks, new maps, and new missions. Some of the new trucks come with custom paint job options and custom tunes as well so you can take your pick and choose from different tunes depending on what sort of experience you are looking for.

Using these mods is simple on the Xbox Series X as well because similar to the Steam version, all you need to do is press a button to subscribe to a mod and the game will automatically download it. Once it is downloaded, there is a dedicated Mod Browser section at the map selection screen where you can jump into the newly downloaded mod. Tired of a mod? Simply unsubscribe and the game will automatically remove it.

While the developers have certainly toned down the hardcore simulation elements, they are still there in the perfect amount to make it accessible to a larger player base and this is a major win for the franchise. It still retains its identity and allows even more players to experience this franchise in a much more linear way. Comparing it with previous titles won’t be fair because the developers wanted a different approach with this new title. The developers are actively supporting the game post-launch as we just received a major update for the game and value-added features like co-op is also coming soon to the game. The previous titles focused more on transporting goods through tough terrains but here, you are taking part in different expeditions and completing sponsored missions for different organizations so you need to jump into the game with the right mindset.

Review Expeditions: A MudRunner Game

I still think that Expeditions: A MudRunner Game is a pretty solid title in its way and I had a great time playing it. There are a few rough edges here and there and I understand why the hardcore community of MudRunner, the original Spintires, or SnowRunner are not happy but with Expeditions, the game’s focus was always on a mission-based off-roading experience. The developers are adding more official content to the game including maps, vehicles, and features for free as well and the mod community is as active as ever with new content being added to the mod section nearly every day. There is no lack of content for the game at any point so you can expect to spend a lot of hours into the game easily.

Final Verdict:

Expeditions: A MudRunner Game is a great off-roading sim for players who are looking for a more approachable title. Unlike the original MudRunner and SnowRunner, Expeditions offers a more linear approach to the off-roading, exploration, and resource management formula introduced by the franchise initially. If you are a hardcore franchise veteran, it may take you some time to get used to all the handholding but in the end, this title is a more mainstream off-roading experience rather than just focusing on the hardcore community. Tons of new features like added off-road assist devices, specialists and more customizable options certainly add more ways for you to tackle each mission in the game. If you are looking for a decent off-roading simulation game where you can drive plenty of cool trucks and explore the wilderness at your own pace, Expeditions: A MudRunner Game must be on your to-play list.

Final Score: 8.0/10

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About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Kingdom Rush 5: Alliance.

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