Developer Milestone’s upcoming racer Gravel was announced in March of last year with a tentative release set for the Summer. I got a hands-on look at it at GDC ’17 , and the game looked pretty polished at that point. Fast forward a few months and the game’s release was pushed back to the Spring of this year in order to make some changes. Our very own Tyler Treese got a first hand look at it in September and found the game to be pretty fun. Neither of us had seen what Milestone had created for the story mode until this last week when I was shown what the Gravel Channel would entail.
Beating the Bosses
While playing through Gravel‘s story mode, racers will have the chance to compete against four different champions in four different disciplines such as Stadium Circuit, Wild Rush, Speed Cross, and Cross-Country. Racers will have to beat several lower ranked races to face off against the boss for each discipline, and once beaten, they will acquire that boss’ vehicle. Once you’ve raced your way past all of those folks, you’ll get to race in the Final League, which will take you to the finish of the story.
All of your races are seen through the eyes and the lens of the cameras that belong to the Gravel Channel. Think of it as the reality TV network of choice for all things racing related as they follow your career through all of the different disciplines you’ll be taking on. You’ll be able to see and hear about your competition in upcoming races, and even get some insider information on the next boss. I only raced through the first couple of races, but from what I saw the Gravel Channel did look entertaining and informative.
Closing an Open World Race
One of the biggest changes I was shown was the closing off of the open environments. Apparently gamers were getting lost and way off track while racing so the developers decided to make the cross country races more of a closed off, checkpoint type of race. The checkpoints can be missed, though, but are pretty easy to see and go through. While the track wasn’t as open, it was still pretty wide and there were even a few alternate routes you could choose from in order to hit that next checkpoint a little quicker.
The handling and feel of the cars and trucks still felt pretty good, with noticeable changes in handling when changing surface types. One rally cross track had a mixture of asphalt, dirt, and mud and the little VW I was driving handled differently through each section, with my car even going up on two wheels after transitioning from dirt to asphalt. The car got way too much traction while sliding sideways out of the dirt and onto the pavement and I almost flipped it.
Back it on up
One cool feature that I don’t recall seeing before was the quick rewind feature. Had I flipped my VW, I could have held down the left shoulder button and rewound the race up to 20 seconds, to a much safer time where my car was still upright and in first place. Gravel is in no way a simulator and isn’t trying to be, so this might just be a nifty little tool to help us win all of these arcade races.
Gravel is set to be released on February 27th and is shaping up to be a fun arcade racer that is easy to pick up and play. It also helps that it’s great to look at as well. For those of you with the PS4 Pro and a 4K TV, you are in for a visual treat.
Gravel preview conducted at a Milestone event on a PS4 Pro.