Review: Getting back to the dirt with Expeditions 

expeditions a mudrunner game

Back in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Saber Interactive’s SnowRunner helped keep my sanity in check with its highly involved and straightforward gameplay, enough to get my mind off of the absolute chaos of pre-vaccine COVID-19. 

SnowRunner is a game I still think about and have hopped back in from time to time since then, and surprisingly, Saber has provided plenty of reasons for the game’s fanbase to do so thanks to a number of updates and new content packs in the form of seasonal DLC. 

Four years later, a proper sequel is finally out, though, and it’s quite good. Weirdly named Expeditions: A MudRunner Game takes the best aspects of SnowRunner and MudRunner, its predecessor, and adds more focused objectives, a host of new tools and flexibility options that make it an even better time.

As its name implies, Expeditions is all about exploring a variety of locales in order to complete all manner of odd jobs, as well as finding hidden treasure, vistas, and securing spots where you can have your base of operation. For the first time ever for the series is a narrative that ties all your work together, since you are part of a team working to discover artifacts and relics. 

expeditions a mudrunner game
Know exactly how low you can go.

While SnowRunner and MudRunner were similarly put together, having the open maps that were free to explore and discover missions on your own, Expeditions attempts to be more focused with its approach by expanding its list of activities with more objectives and having you pick them before starting a run. You’ll sometimes also run into bonus objectives as you’re out and about, which is always a surprise and provides an additional challenge if you choose to go for it. 

SnowRunner has already dipped its toes into that by having you, for instance, survey the wilderness and collect data; Expeditions takes that further, with missions ranging a wide variety of activities well beyond just hauling cargo or rescuing trapped vehicles. It also adds a new wrinkle to gameplay by having you put together a team of experts to boost your capabilities. In a way, it feels like a rally game such as WRC 10, where you hire more people in order to make your job easier.

In terms of content, we’re talking about something in the range of 100+ hours of gameplay, and having played well over 10 at this point and not even unlocked ⅕ of Expedition’s three environments, I can certainly believe it. For those looking for a juicy game to sink their teeth into, there’s plenty of reason to keep at it with this, not only because of the aforementioned team mechanic, but also in order to obtain the many upgrades scattered around the world to power up your ever-growing garage.

expeditions a mudrunner game
Doh, dis is dot by tose.

Fan-favorite trucks and semis from previous entries in the series make a return in Expeditions, and they’re just as versatile as ever. Initially, your options can feel a little too limited given that for as big as the list might be, capabilities-wise, they can be a bit similar if you only go by what the game tells you.

However, if you go out of your way and actually explore all of its menus, you’ll find, for instance, an engine you can buy in order to make a specific truck more powerful. But that only happens if you bother to look, as there’s still not a whole lot in the way of teaching players who aren’t already into the series. Outside of a handful of quick tutorial missions that go over the most basic, such as how to drive, there’s not much else to help ease new players in.

Then again, it does seem like Saber wants to make Expeditions more approachable gameplay-wise, in the way it offers new tools for you to bring along with you. They provide solutions to problems that often led to frustration in previous entries, such as when your vehicle is overturned or when you had no environmental elements to attach the ever useful winch to.

These come in the form of a jack that basically reloads your position in case you flip over, and multiple anchors you can attach closeby in order to yank your way out of a jam. There’s also a scanner that helps you pinpoint loot and other nifty objects in a particular map, which comes in handy, as well a sensor that keeps track of how deep bodies of water are so you don’t flood your truck, among others.

Some of them, curiously, happened to be in SnowRunner in the form of mods created by the community, and it’s nice to see the developers implementing them to the actual game since they are very useful and add to the overall enjoyment of Expeditions, making it less inscrutable than its predecessors out of the box.

expeditions a mudrunner game
Among the many new gadgets at your disposal is a drone, because of course there would be one here! Why not?

I vividly remember spending hours mounting huge rescue operations in SnowRunner, trying to yank success out of the jaws of failure. Such moments are what make games like these so damn compelling, and Expeditions is much the same, providing even bigger sandboxes and toys for you to play around with.

Visually, Expeditions continues the trend set by the games that came before it. To sum it up, it looks very sharp but nothing out of the ordinary. The terrain deformation, though, it’s where it all matters, and it is still really impressive. Trucks leave their mark where they go, and physics play a huge part as you play, making it so the heavier the haul, the deeper you’ll sink in mud, the works.  

As it stands, Expeditions is pretty much what I expected out of a new entry in this very niched franchise that I was lucky to run into years ago with Spintires. It’s something that those looking for a quirky but immersive open-world experience are bound to eat up.  

There’s nothing quite like these games anywhere else, and even though others like Alaskan Road Truckers might’ve tried, there’s something to be said about Saber’s knack for steadily improving on and adding to the mix with each new edition, while keeping what makes them so damn addictive in the process.    

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *