Expeditions: A MudRunner Game Review

Expeditions a MudRunner game

Sometimes, you have to ask yourself why you’re enjoying Expeditions: A MudRunner Game. Sometimes, you won’t have an answer for it, and sometimes you will. Equal parts excruciating and rewarding, Expeditions tasks you with mostly driving very slowly through places you’re not supposed to drive things. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, and one that’s going to break your teeth along the way thanks to all the rocks that have found their way in there, but it is, in fact, a tasty, wholesome meal of a game, though you’re going to have to chew your way through it from start to finish.

If you’re a newcomer to the MudRunner series, let’s make things clear: there is a lot of mud, and there is very little in the way of running. This is a series dedicated to driving, and driving well, but it couldn’t be further removed from your Gran Turismos or Need for Speeds if it tried. Setting out from your base, you’re tasked with completing a series of objectives in a host of fairly sedentary vessels, from little jeeps to huge container trucks, often carrying some kind of cargo across the map to cheer the imaginary people that live in this muddy landscape.

While the title has shifted, Expeditions is quite clearly still a MudRunner game, and while the framing is different and the outlook somewhat more sunny than its predecessors, this is still a driving game that is both in love with driving and utterly hateful of the drivers. You just so happen to be that driver.

Expeditions jeep cockpit camera view of tree-covered mountains

Like the earlier games in the series, you arrive at your base camp with a can-do attitude and seemingly no knowledge of how to drive, but after a short tutorial you’ll be unleashed upon the unsuspecting landscape like the pioneer you are. Expeditions is all about adventuring into the wilderness, and while MudRunner and SnowRunner gave you the most hollow of small victories with something approaching a road or two, you’ll be navigating by cactus and crevasse in this game.

I’ve described the MudRunner series as puzzle games before, and that same outlook applies here. You’re given a batch of equipment to use, and you can fill out your inventory with different parts to suit your playstyle or to satisfy the needs of the mission you’ve been given. This might be a jack to turn your vehicle upright after rolling it, or a drone to scout out the terrain ahead of you, with those puzzle elements coming into play from the very beginning as each mission will likely need a different loadout to the last one.

You have to be prepared from the outset, or you’ll find yourself permanently stuck in the mud, water or dry creek beds, with no hope of escape. You can recover your vehicle to the nearest base, but that costs you a chunk of virtual money and generally means a lengthy and laborious return to where you were before.

Expeditions requires patience. The pace that you tackle most missions will barely reach 20 miles per hour, and the level designers have a wicked penchant for dropping ridges and stones into the most infuriating configurations possible. You’ll be gritting your teeth trying to pull trucks out of the mud, while you desperately hope you’re not going to become stuck as well, and missions invariably mean getting across at least one particularly villainous spot.

The mission structure isn’t always incredibly helpful for putting you on the right track, and there were a number of times where I had to recover to a different base that had turned out to be right next to the actual starting point of a mission. When you’re not driving, the pace can become even more sluggish, with a number of the gadgets you use – I’m looking at you Metal Detector and Echo Sounder – requiring multiple jumps into the Devices menu, when I’m sure there must have been a more intuitive solution.

Expeditions sensor shows grid of probes

That doesn’t suit the dev team’s outlook though. While Expeditions is undoubtedly fun, it’s focused, intense and challenging fun, and it’s not for the sort of person who looks for a quick and easy way to test how deep the water is. If you struggle to play games that require planning, sneaking or puzzle solving these are all applicable skills you’ll need to succeed in Expeditions.

It’s still glorious though. I love trundling through the wilderness and battling with a fallen tree I thought I could attach my winch to. I love having to reduce my tyre pressure and dropping into a low gear to get through a particularly deep patch of mud. As I said at the outset, I don’t entirely know why, but Expeditions, and the Runner series in general, are fascinating and utterly beguiling to me.

It helps that Expeditions looks and sounds better than either of its predecessors. It does a fantastic job of recreating sunsets, and the lush forests of the Carpathians serve as a great visual counterpoint to the dusty climes of Arizona. The laid-back guitar vibes that accompany your adventures also mean that the occasional loss of a truck down a ditch can be met with some level of calm self-restraint.

Expeditions: A MudRunner Game continues the series legacy in emphatic style, with a true pioneering spirit that’ll keep you coming back for vehicular adventures for months to come.
  • Enthralling driving action
  • Looks and sounds lovely
  • Huge amount of content
  • Doesn't divert all that much of the Mudrunner formula
  • Occasional rough edges
Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.