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October 2018


Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Developer: Milestone
Release Date: Feb. 27, 2018


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Gravel'

by Adam Pavlacka on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Gravel is an off-road challenge where you explore exotic locations, drive iconic vehicles in extreme conditions, defy the champions, and become the ultimate Offroad Master.

Pre-order Gravel

There aren't too many options for off-road rally racing on consoles, aside from Dirt Rally, which debuted at the end of 2015. Sure, Forza Horizon 3 allows you to go off-road, but a little bit of dirt does not make a rally game. This means that Milestone has some high expectations to meet with Gravel when it releases next week.

Running on Unreal Engine 4, Gravel looks good in motion and should scale nicely across all three of the major platforms. Expect 1080p on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with the game hitting 4K on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. One point of differentiation: HDR support will only be available on Sony's console. The Xbox One X version of Gravel won't support HDR.

Designed to mimic a cable sports channel, Gravel's story mode (dubbed Off-Road Masters) has you advancing through various racing environments. The variety on offer is promising, with everything from forested dirt roads to snow-covered mountains, underground caverns, and sandy beaches to race on. Gravel has lap-based races, point-to-point races, stadium tracks, and elimination countdown modes.

Milestone is known for its simulation efforts, and the developer doesn't disappoint here. You can jump into the tuning options and tweak a bunch of settings across the front suspension, rear suspension, transmission, differential, brakes, and alignment. It is possible to play without ever touching these settings, but the gearheads out there should appreciate the ability to customize their ride.

Controls in the preview build felt like they tended more toward the arcade side of the fence, offering a game that is easy to pick up and play. The arcade bent also seems to apply to the physics, with cars looks a bit floaty during collisions. There are simulation elements here as well. Damage can have an effect on your car's performance, and on the lap-based tracks, road deformation is a thing, so you'll have to deal with tire tracks changing how the course feels over time.

Gravel appears to have limited rubber-band AI, ensuring that races are a challenge and not a blowout. If you screw up, the rewind feature allows you to quickly undo your mistake. There is also a photo mode, which is accessible during the race replay.

At first glance, Gravel appears to check all the boxes necessary for a solid rally racing experience. We plan on getting behind the wheel with the final version next week, so check back at the beginning of March to find out if Gravel can go the distance, or if it runs out of gas before the finish line.

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