|Title||Dakar Desert Rally|
|a program||Xbox One and Xbox Series X | S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Steam and Epic Store|
|release day||November 2022|
As a journalist, it’s normal to meet many people at a trade show like Gamescom. This includes PR personnel whose main job is to get everyone in the right boxes at the right time. It is in these chests that you then meet the important people: the developers. You soon learn that not every software developer is born. When one person has a beautiful story ready, the other forces a piece to memorize it by heart. Every now and then you come across something special. For example, I will never forget my interview with Joseph Faris. He was the best guy working on A Way Out at the time and spoke his game with incredible fire. Paulo Gomez suit in the same fabric. His studio Saber Porto, formerly Bigmoon Entertainment, works on the Dakar Desert Rally, which makes this race Paulo’s greatest passion.
As a fan of Dakar, the studio chief is unlike anyone else able to unearth the pain points of his previous match in Dakar. The Dakar 18 match wasn’t bad, but it was very limited. The player can take a series of quizzes and if these 14 stages are done, you will get the content. A shame, because the total of the game world at Dakar 18 covered more than 14,000 square kilometers – a world record at the time. While players can fully explore this world, there were no gameplay elements to support it. There was no logical reason to take advantage of all those parts of the world that were far from the race tracks. Entire parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru were in the game, but they could also have been left out.
Create your own road book
The Dakar Desert Rally changes two things in that. First, the venue is changing, as the 2020, 2021 and 2022 editions of the Dakar Rally have been held in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the game world of this game is even larger, because this time you have more than 20,000 square kilometers to explore. Most importantly, there are now more ways to enjoy all those miles. It starts with the fact that there are three different Dakar Rallyes in the game, because you can drive all three versions of the past years. Most importantly, this time players can create their own track book and share it with other players, so you can include any part of the world in your race tracks. This provides the game with a great deal of additional content, which should definitely benefit the replay value.
This is all the music of the future. At Gamescom, we were able to start with just one stage of one of the Dakars, with a car of our choice. Of course, all the classes you know from Dakar are there, so if you want to tear up the desert with a truck, you can. More important than your choice of vehicle is your choice of gameplay. You can play the game in three ways. Sports mode will be the most suitable mode for many players. Here you have a somewhat more arcade user interface that accurately shows the route you should take. It ensures that you can race without worrying about your road book. If you choose one of the other two modes, the tools will disappear and you will have to monitor your compass and waybook to find the way points. The more difficult option makes it livelier: here you will experience the most authentic way to drive the Dakar. For example, you cannot save in the meantime and you have to stick to the maximum speed of 170 kilometers per hour which also applies during the real Dakar Rally.
We can be pretty clear that one of the more simulation-oriented variants is the most fun. The Dakar Desert Rally is a lot of fun in sports mode, but the gameplay is quickly interchangeable. After all, there are plenty of other racing games in which you have a mass start and then you have to go from A to B as quickly as possible. The magic of this game is that you have to take the right path based on your road book. For example, small drawings or notes help you identify some recognizable elements of the environment, while the general 360-degree direction is indicated by the compass. It takes some practice, but it’s amazing to complete a stage in Dakar this way.
Errors and car crashes
It is of course important to play the game well. To what extent this is the case, we cannot fully judge on the basis of two separate parts of the gameplay, but the first acquaintance was basically good. We’ve lost control a few times, but a little bit of sliding, jumping and spinning is part of the rush, right? A nice detail here is that the AI doesn’t automatically complete trips without errors. We saw several trucks and cars recovering from a fault, and once we saw a car crash violently and overturned several times. This kind of thing happens in the Dakar Rally, so it’s good that it happens in the game as well. This gives the races a lively look.
With all this it can be said that the game looks good. This applies to cars and environments, but also to a number of details. For example, it is good to see the “heating effect” when you look at the horizon. The procedure can also be tried from all kinds of camera positions. Of course the cockpit view is the recipe for the most authentic experience, but for many players, the position behind the car or on the bumper works best. You can even choose to follow the vehicle from the chasing helicopter. Whether it’s good for your performance, we dare not say, but it looks good.
The Dakar Desert Rally also includes a day and night cycle, changing seasons and dynamic weather conditions, with a real day in the game taking around an hour. We’ve only played the game in daylight and sunny weather so far, but the clips we’ve seen have shown that you can actually drive at night and can also end up in the rain or even snow. We haven’t been able to experience all of this yet, but it promises to add extra variety to the game.
We really loved our playing session with the Dakar Rally for desserts. It’s good to see that Saber Porto has put a lot of effort into making the game’s massive world more informative. Now that you can create your own tracks and share your route book with other players, you can enjoy 20,000 square kilometers of the game world much more than was possible. The fact that there are three years of the Dakar Rally in the game also means that there are quite a few vehicles in the game, because all the cars, trucks and motorcycles from the three versions of Dakar are part of the game. The game is well playable for both experienced and novice rally drivers, thanks to the presence of different types of game. The Dakar Desert Rally will be released on October 4th on PlayStation 4, 5 and Xbox platforms, as well as on Steam and the Epic Store.
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