Gravel, from developer Milestone, is a new Unreal Engine 4 powered racing game named after type of surface; DiRT immediately springs to mind. Whether or not this ambitious and pretty-looking title becomes as synonymous with the genre as that aforementioned franchise remains to be seen, but there’s big time potential to provide players with another option to get their driving fix, and perhaps blossom into the next big series.
What intrigues me about Gravel is the fact that it doesn’t always take place on standard tracks, but all over the world and on a variety of surfaces, be it sand, dirt and of course, gravel. You’ll feel a noticeable difference as you go from smooth road into a forest or barrel down a quarry. There’s more to it than the usual twists and turns. You must quickly adapt to the changing terrain, or spin out to a last place finish.
This variety is on display in Gravel’s four unique disciples. First up is Cross Country, which is strictly point A to point B across beautiful locations from the around the world, from the forests and fishing villages in Alaska, to the beaches of Namibia.
Next up is Wild Rush, where you race on exotic albeit closed tracks. Despite having less room to explore (and running laps as you go), you’ll still drive different vehicles through exotic locations, including Polynesia (apparently the track leads into a volcanic island), an iron mine set in the Australian outback, and the snowcapped Alps.
Speed Cross, meanwhile, features much shorter tracks set predominantly on asphalt and dirt. Precision driving is the key to victory, and I get the impression this is the sort of mode where one mistake will cost me the race.
Finally, there’s Stadium Circuit, best summed up as mud, and lots of it. Imagine a bunch of vehicles making a mess and launching into the air, to the delight of a roaring crowd packed into a stadium. Fun times!
With a 2018 release window for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, Milestone will likely provide more details about Gravel in the coming months, and I look forward to learning more about the game to see if it can hold its own against other off roaders like DiRT and Forza Horizon. Best of luck to the dev team!