Pacific Drive PS5 1

Developer Ironwood Studios really wants you to form a bond with the car. That's the main takeaway from a hands-off presentation of Pacific Drive, a run-based survival game. It's just you and a banged-up American station wagon inside the Olympic Exclusion Zone, a mysterious part of the Pacific Northwest that's riddled with supernatural occurrences.

The demonstration showed us the two sides of this unique title. Played entirely from a first-person perspective, you'll set off from your garage out into the exclusion zone, aiming to find parts and resources out in the wilderness. Once you return, you'll use all your loot to make repairs, upgrades, and build new tools to allow you to explore further and deeper into your strange surroundings.

You plot a course before you set off, with all routes leading to a special type of energy that allows you to open a portal and escape back to the garage. Out on the road (or lack of road if you're feeling adventurous), you'll need to keep your head on a swivel. There will be plenty of wrecked vehicles and buildings you can find that'll offer some precious resources, but the Olympic Exclusion Zone is rife with threats. Bizarre anomalies like creatures that'll drag your car around, freak weather conditions, and columns of earth erupting from the ground are all trying to total your ride.

Hopefully, you've brought along some supplies with which you can make some quick repairs, or top up your fuel. You'll need to hop out and keep your car in decent nick if you've any hope of making it back to the garage unscathed. Once you find that energy which opens the exit, things ramp up a little; a shrinking circle will form on your satellite display, and if you leave that zone, you'll be in for a particularly bumpy ride.

You'll either make it to the exit or you won't, and if you don't, you'll lose some of the resources you've gathered. Either way, you'll be back at base. This is your chance to perform repairs, install better parts, build new equipment, and craft useful supplies. That's more or less the game — it's all about building your car up so you can explore new biomes and get better parts so you can improve your car, and so it goes on.

The crux of the whole thing really does seem to be that busted up banger, and it's clear the intention is for you to fall in love with it. You find the car in its stock state at the beginning of the game, and will gradually turn it into a real beast. With the game exclusively in first-person, even while driving, you're kept immersed in the experience — even the HUD elements are in-universe, with most of the info you need during a run on your vehicle's dashboard. Once you start equipping it with your favourite parts and paint it how you want, we imagine players will get pretty attached to their trusty ride.

It'll even develop unusual quirks; when activating the wiper blades, it'll somehow also turn on the headlights, for example. Cars are inanimate machines, but any driver will tell you about their "personality", so this feels authentic to the vehicle-owning experience while also playing into the supernatural theme.

While it's clear the car is the centrepiece, the world around you will also develop as you progress. On a run — each one roughly lasting an hour — you'll also find snippets of lore and story in addition to loot. The game's structure is heavily inspired by roguelikes, but there is an end to the narrative. Ironwood Studios is aiming to allow you to carry on playing past the credits, so your adventures in the exclusion zone need not stop when the story does.

Much like the debut trailer, this short presentation on Pacific Drive has us itching to try it ourselves. The combination of survival, crafting, and driving that hunk of junk through the game's procedural environments shows a lot of potential. That said, if the folks at Ironwood Studios pull a Shadow of the Colossus on us, we may never forgive them. Man, we're already too attached to the car.

Pacific Drive is scheduled for release on PS5 and PC in 2023. Are you excited to play this unique drive n' survive adventure? Buckle up in the comments section below.