Mad Max Preview: Stepping into the Road Warrior’s Boots

Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Rating: TBC

Post-apocalyptic games are as well-worn as Max Rockatansky’s sandy boots now, with the likes of Fallout, Borderlands, Rage, and others giving us all the scorched wastelands and desolate cities we could want. Many of these take influence from the Mad Max movies, with elements in the Fallout series (such as the raiders’ costumes and the idea of a lone warrior bringing order to a broken civilisation) borrowing from them heavily – so can the road warrior himself bring anything new to the table?

This Ain’t Fury Road

Mad Max has exploded back into the mainstream following the massive success of Fury Road, the fourth film in the series – the movie has pleased long-time fans, critics, and even newcomers who have never seen a single frame of the original trilogy. Though Tom Hardy has replaced Mel Gibson, Max himself looks set to enjoy more adventures across at least one other movie and, now, an incoming game developed by the mighty Avalanche Studios.

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As the team behind the impressive Just Cause games, Avalanche Studios are bringing the same free-form, open-world gameplay to Max’s universe: while there are no planes to hijack and no wingsuits to glide with, there is still plenty to see and do. Because this has no ties to Fury Road, the developers have enjoyed the freedom to create their own standalone story and situations: players take control of Max as he tracks down the marauders responsible for stealing his V8 Interceptor car. Along the way, Max teams with Chumbucket, an idiot savant, and takes control of a new car – the Magnum Opus.

This being the world of Mad Max, tracking the marauders involves driving, fighting, shooting, and explosions, with one of the most awesome elements of the game set to be the vehicular combat.

Put that Pedal to the Metal!

As anyone who’s enjoyed the Fallout games over the years will likely agree, one thing missing is the ability to use vehicles: you’ll see hundreds lying across the wastelands, but you’re powerless to get any of them up and running – instead, trekking everywhere on foot can be time-consuming and tedious. Well, Mad Max has driving – and plenty of it!

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Vehicular combat has always been a huge part of the Mad Max movies, and Avalanche Studios have brought that to the game in equal measure: players can ram enemies’ cars, use a harpoon gun to attach to them and rip armour off hoods, launch harpoon grenades, and also use a nitro-fuelled ‘boost’ for a little extra power. The Magnum Opus can be customised using scrap parts Max finds throughout the world, with additional features including: a ramming grill (for extra damage); armour; better tyres; a more powerful engine; more nitro for a stronger boost; spikes for the wheels; side-mounted flamethrowers; hood ornaments taken from enemy leaders (which actually increase your stats); and new colours.

Tweaking the Magnum Opus throughout the game helps to make it actually feel like your own, and makes taking down enemies even more fun. You can run out of fuel, though, so you need to grab it whenever you can and be prepared to explore the deserts without your trusty vehicle.

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The world itself is separated into regions, with each one run by a specific warlord: Max needs to take these down one by one. This involves entering outposts and strongholds, wasting enemies, attacking convoys, and ultimately eliminating the leaders themselves – both in your car and on foot.

From what we’ve seen so far, the on-foot parts of the game seem to be similar to Warner’s own Arkham series and the recent Shadow of Mordor: combat is based on the same counter / dodge / attack format. Max can use guns too, but ammunition is in short supply, so they may be best left for when they’re really needed.

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While the world is mostly rocky deserts and sand dunes, there is some variation: Gas Town is a highly-populated urban location; the Great White is a dried sea-bed home to rusted ships and lighthouse strongholds; Dead Barren’s Pass links both of these two areas; there are plenty of other areas too. Avalanche Studios seem to realise the landscape could become repetitive after a while, and so have tried to inject some diversity into the setting.

So, will Mad Max do the classic, beloved character and his franchise justice? What we’ve seen so far looks promising, but we’ll all have to wait and see when it’s released on September 1st!