Wednesday, May 22, 2024
HomeBaldur's Gate 3Pacific Drive is a different type of fantasy fulfillment driving game

Pacific Drive is a different type of fantasy fulfillment driving game

Between Days Gone, Sommerville, and now Pacific Drive, we are starting to think that developers have a concerning obsession with subjecting the midwestern United States to the end of days. Like those other games, Pacific Drive is also about travel through these decaying states. However, this time, instead of riding a cool motorbike or trying to find your family, you’re begging your wood-paneled, beleaguered station wagon to get out of neutral before a supernatural force kills you.

Honey, Check The Map

Pacific Drive is a linear narrative where you are trying to get into the Deep Zone to find something that was only hinted at in our demo. However, players’ journeys through this forested wasteland seem like they will be somewhat unique. Before you start each objective, you pick from a branching map where you want to drive to next. The game will then drop you into one of the 2x2km maps and randomly populate certain things like the exit you are looking for and equipment, while the road layout will stay the same.

From here, you’ll drive your car – which looks like the Time Machine from Back To The Future 2 was built using Marge Simpson’s car and not a DeLorean – into an area, complete a mission while scavenging for parts to repair your ride, and then drive to an exit that will teleport you to your garage. Teleporting back to this garage is vital, and the mission we were shown had us traveling from the Outer Zone into the Mid Zone, where we would have to power a relay that would activate a portal back to safety.

I’m Not Calling A Mechanic

Once you get back to your garage, you can slap on the jukebox and get working under the hood. This isn’t a mechanic sim or anything, but Pacific Drive goes into surprising detail with just how much you can tinker with your American jalopy. Doors, windows, bumpers, panels, wheels, and more can be repaired or replaced, and you have to manually refuel. However, you can also upgrade your automobile with high-tech sensors and gadgets or decidedly lower-tech upgrades, like strapping some canisters of gas to the side of the boot.

Game Director Seth Rosen talked us through the demo and highlighted that this is a “different kind of car fantasy” to what you would get in an arcade game like Need for Speed or a sim like Gran Turismo. Pacific Drive isn’t about speeding through the street or even building the best car. It’s about looking after the one you’ve got, caring for it so it can protect you from what’s out there.

The style and tone of Pacific Drive are extremely striking, or as Rosen put it, “it’s a bit of a vibe.” Our only question is; Will the gameplay loop stay interesting over the course of several hours, or will you eventually wish you had just sold this pile of scrap for a hatchback before the end of the world? Pacific Drive will come to PC and PlayStation 5 in early 2024.


These impressions are based on an on-site demo from Gamescom 2023. It may not be representative of the final product.

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