Offroad Truck Simulator: Heavy Duty Challenge


The roughest, toughest driving game we've played...?


Fascinated by the madness of real truck trials and as a fan of Mudrunner and Snowrunner I was immediately drawn to Offroad Truck Simulator: Heavy Duty Challenge. You start off driving a 4-wheel drive Mercedes Unimog. I was impressed to see licenced vehicles manufactured by Mercedes-Benz, MAN, Tatra, IFA, Avia, Ural, Steyr, Zil and Hummer.

A basic tutorial mode teaches you the basics and sensitive steering meant at first I was constantly over-correcting before getting used to the subtle inputs required to drive these offroad monsters accurately. I was pleased to immediately feel that the differential options (2, 4, 6 or 8-wheel drive/differentials locked etc) really make a difference to your manoeuvrability and traction. There are several views available via 'up' on the D-pad, and I found myself using the cab view, the lean-out-the-window view (LB) and the 3rd person chase cam views depending on the circumstances. Whichever view you use, the game immediately pokes you in the eyes with the most horrendous pop-up I've seen this generation, with trees and large boulders appearing mere yards in front of your truck, as well as distant hillsides or mountain ranges being partially drawn–it's not a good start.

The Cargo Mode gives you a choice of whether to compete in the Utah desert or a wooded forest in Poland. The Competition Mode has tortuous and torturous purpose-built tracks set in Poland, France, Iceland, and Austria–and this is where the game is at its best.

Delivering a new bucket for an excavator.

In the cargo mode the game really leaves you to discover the best way to the objective, with no map or satellite view to help you plan a route. Bizarrely, you can also damage your truck's suspension with no way of fixing it, meaning it'll drag its nose along the ground and make it difficult to clear any significant humps and hollows. The only damage visually apparent is collapsed suspension, which can easily happen if you drop down from a great height or steep slope without braking–even if you stick to the awful roads, normal wear & tear will cause the springs to break after 2 or 3 missions.

The full roster of competition trucks. You can also drive a Hummer in the free roam non-competition mode.

Trials Competition involves driving around what are seemingly impassable tracks, making sure you pass through the gates (red pole on the left, green on the right) and preferably not stopping or reversing–as you lose points for both! Some of the obstacles are completely insane and we're obviously designed by an evil, sadistic genius, but the truth is that precision driving will always see you through. The Competition Mode thankfully does have a repair & upgrades system, using cash you win/earn to pay for durability upgrades & repairs, and XP earned to unlock perks such as tighter turns, grippier tyres or more horsepower. The game's terrible pop-up is less of an issue in this mode, but it still rears its ugly head.

The trucks are well modelled and the suspension movement is awesome, and conforms to the terrain accurately. There's no exhaust smoke and the engines sound rather muffled, with no turbo whine or air brake hiss.

Rescuing an off-roader...

Another thing that struck me is where's the replay mode? The runs are relatively short but can be intense, and watching a replay or a perfect run or to see where you messed up would have been a great feature!

Easy does it...

Although the game has dynamic physics attached to some objects (gate poles, demolishable walls, concrete pipes, logs, small boulders and even other vehicles) there's no mud, snow or water. There's also none of the soil/sand or tyre deformation that I've seen in the PC version, and as the game won't run on an Xbox One it's kind of hard to believe this is "Optimised for X/S."

Although the various vehicles are well modelled , they have no driver and in extreme circumstances the tyres can pop through the bodywork. Suitable beds for the trucks appear automatically when you drive onto a ramp at the "team camp" to equip your truck at the start of a cargo supply run, which seems an unnecessary step–especially as this apparent mechanical/maintenance area offers no repairs.

Leaning out the window is a good way to line up your wheels with a log or ramp...

The Competition Mode's upgrade system works well, you earn currency for competing, which can then be spent on repairs and vital reinforcing (your truck is fairly easy to wreck at the start). As you progress through the competitions you earn Experience Points which can be spent on upgrades such as improved steering lock, weight reduction, tuned gears, high-grip tyres, tuned engine, more gears and brake/power balance.

Offroad Truck Simulator: Heavy Duty Challenge is another game that could have been so good, but even allowing for its sub-£30 price tag, a lack of polish (no doubt due to restricted development time), horrendous LoD (Level of Detail) glitching and pop-up, pop-down & pop-up again has rendered it less than impressive visually–it really does spoil some rather pretty scenery and cleverly designed tracks. Nevertheless, and most importantly, its challenging physics and raw playability kept drawing me back, and I would love to see a proper Unreal Engine 5-powered sequel...

Many thanks to Nano Games, Aerosoft GmbH and Marchsreiter Communications GmbH for the review code.