WNA’s Editor in Chief was able to experience Milestone’s newest game, Gravel. The game, released through Square Enix, was available for demo at NYCC, and the developers were on hand to discuss the gameplay. It should be noted that our editor is unfamiliar with most racing/driving games, so this game will be based on its merit, and not compared to any other current competitors. Milestone has worked in racing games, and only racing games for the past 22 years, so I was curious to see what their take on an ‘arcade-style’ racing vg would be like.
Marketed as, “the only racing title on the market to pack a holistic Off-Road experience into a single game. Gravel promises to always stay challenging.” Despite my little experience with driving games, I took to the game pretty quickly; I understood where I was struggling, and it was not with the driving mechanics, but my own amateur driving skill. The game plays much more like some of the arcade games that existed in the 80s than some of the much more technical games on the market today. While you can choose to play with manual gears, playing with the car in automatic doesn’t detract from the difficulty or the fun.
The game will have four different ‘circuits’:
- Wild Rush, combative races in wild locations
- Cross Country, with open maps to explore or to conquer until the last checkpoint
- Speed Cross, with real tracks and races, and
- Stadium Circuit, with arenas and huge jumps
I was able to play Wild Rush and Stadium Circuit. The first was my favorite: the worlds are immersive, and even if you end up off road, there is always a way to get back on course–and the way you choose might even be faster than the path more trodden. The physics of the terrain changes as well, which I thought was amazing– on the Alaskan map, when I hit some sand (after previously being on normal ground), the way the car handled changed significantly, and I had to adjust. The Stadium Circuit was fun as well, but I confess I struggled more in that one, as the track was muddy and I simply couldn’t adjust to the way the car moved against the wet ground; I conceded that was my failure as a player, and not the game mechanics, though.
Speaking of game mechanics–one of the things I really loved about the game was the capability to rewind back 10 seconds at any point in time. Like in Life is Strange [ha!], no mistake is permanent as long as you can get back to a starting point where your car is still on the ground, instead of careening headfirst into a tree.
The game, from a player perspective, isn’t so daunting to someone who is new to racing games; it’s enjoyable to me in a way that a racing game hasn’t been in some time. There is still enough challenge to those who are more experienced in racing, as well–level difficulty can be ramped up, cars modified, and handling changed. I think Milestone was able to find a happy medium in this arcade-style racer that should leave everyone pleased.
Gravel will be released on PS4, XOne X, and Steam in 2018, so keep an eye out!