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If you've ever looked at a stretch of abandoned road, overcome with mud and muck, and wondered whether your little two-door compact could make it through, MudRunner might be a series you already know. From Spintires to SnowRunner, it's a lovely little franchise that seems to be surviving capably, and its latest is Expeditions: A MudRunner Game, which takes the series in an altogether more scientific direction. Now, your vehicle rescues and arduous mountain climbs have a more intellectual mission briefing before them — but the core gameplay hasn't changed too much.

Expeditions sets you up with a quick staging area in Colorado to begin with, getting you back up to speed pretty rapidly. You'll learn or re-learn the basics of shifting into low gears, lowering your tyre pressure, engaging a differential lock, and ploughing into extremely ill-advised crags, canyons, and swamps. These tools become your bread and butter, and soon enough you'll be using them like muscle memory, turning them on when needed and then back off to save fuel. All of this is with the goal of getting to that next staging post and figuring out the route to whatever comes after that.

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From Colorado, you'll then get access to Nevada's Grand Canyon area and a wooded, lush slice of the Carpathian mountains. This rounds out the three open-world maps the game ships with, and each of the latter two offers up a whole host of, well, expeditions to work through, along with open-world exploration if you like.

Unsurprisingly, these missions start out simple for the most part (get up this hill, check out that part of the map, use your drone a bit), but it doesn't take long for things to become more interesting. The moment you're first tasked with towing out a stranded vehicle, you'll feel how Expeditions' physics systems rise to the task.

After all, the real core of the MudRunner series is very much its physics; the bounce and settle of your suspension, the way your car's frame flexes, and above all the way mud and rocks cling or resist, giving you grip or losing it at key moments. In many cases, your mission might only see you drive a few hundred meters, but that distance will feel as absorbing as many laps on a high-speed circuit in Gran Turismo 7 if you get into it.

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On top of that, Expeditions gives you a wider array of fancy tools than ever before — metal detectors, water-depth sensors, and anchor points you can deploy for emergency winches all become part of your thinking and planning. Then, when it comes to actually throttling up and driving, you can just slip into a lovely zone where the only thing that matters is whether your tyre is going to be able to get over that crack, whether that rock is angled in a way that'll tip you, or whether your tyre pressure is right for the mud you're in.

Get stuck and you could set off in a second vehicle to drag yourself out, but the game is also fairly generous with quitting out and resetting. You can zip your vehicle back to base for free once per mission, which can be both a time-saver and a truck-saver depending on your situation. For now, there's no co-op mode, which was a highlight of SnowRunner. It's in the roadmap for the game's first year of post-launch content, though, so should open up even more options in terms of how you get through longer missions together.

Expeditions doesn't gatekeep much in terms of your garage, immediately letting you choose between a nice range of vehicles, from compact 4x4s to hulking trucks. Most of these are viable for most missions but each has clear strengths and weaknesses, which are often obvious from their sheer dimensions. Those who want to can get into the weeds and customise their cars heavily, too, with equipment options to buy with the money you earn from your missions, and plenty of different ways to load your choice down. Each comes with a small buy-in cost, as do technicians who can join your team for a fee to improve some of your technical capabilities.

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These choices become all the more important as missions get longer and tougher, especially when night-time driving starts to get mixed in. Your choices of headlights and spotlights will directly impact on what you can see in the path ahead of you, and Expeditions is all about pathfinding, making its use of mud and rock really great. Everything you see in your vehicle's path is a physical object that could deform, bounce off you, or wedge under your wheel for an unexpected twist, making every moment of driving engrossing.

That said, the way it presents mud and rock also brings us to the only major issue we encountered while playing Expeditions. It seems to have some sort of texture streaming issue at present. We frequently found that moving our camera around would see the ground around us turn from a relatively detailed texture into a blurry mess, one that looked a couple of generations old and also made it hard to judge our driving surface.

It was a recurring issue that we can only hope is fixed soon, because it lets down otherwise solid visuals. This isn't a game that will blow you away, but its lighting is nice and those vehicles are hyper-detailed in a quite rewarding fashion. The density of plant growth in the Carpathian biome in particular is really lovely to drive through and chill out in. Still, you can also tell that much of the resources on offer have been directed towards those excellent physics simulations, and that's a smart bit of prioritisation.

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Expeditions could still stand to be a slightly more exciting game at times. Its menus err on the side of the factual and boring, even if mission briefings are occasionally a little too, well, brief, but this tone feels fairly deliberate. Like older games in the series, it's not really about high speeds and electro-soundtracked celebrations, focusing instead on tyre treads and path-plotting.


At its best, Expeditions offers more of the absorbing, slow, and high-risk driving that made MudRunner and SnowRunner such cult successes. It's a clever formula that now has slightly more user-friendly packaging, making it easier than ever to get into. There are still wrinkles, in particular with visual performance, and there's no doubt that this remains a niche that not all petrolheads will love, but if you're on the lookout for something a bit more zen, it's another great entry in the series.