The off-road trucking of SnowRunner has ended a year of Epic Games Store exclusivity, today coming to Steam as well as Xbox Game Pass For PC. It's the follow-up to MudRunner, which was itself a spin-off from Spintires - two great games about dirty gert trucks getting stuck in physics-simulated mud. This time, it has snow too! The publishers have also kicked off a second year of free content updates and paid DLC.
SnowRunner, in case you'd missed it, is a truck-driving sim about the inch-by-inch challenges of harsh terrain. Mud pits, snow pits, and big rocks aren't decorative scenery you roll over, they're serious problems to solve as you try to complete missions. You rarely see games focus so tightly on the mechanics of movement, and it's immensely satisfying.
"The game, in essence, is to marshal the forces pulling you down so that they instead push you forward," Jeremy Peel said in our SnowRunner review last year. "That might mean tying a cable to a tree and yanking your truck by its nose, providing the momentum needed to get moving again. Or activating diff lock to send power to the wheels that still have traction, rather than spinning the ones that don't. Or even starting the engine of the vehicle you're towing, so that it can give you an encouraging nudge up the rear. Every journey is filled with tiny troubleshooting challenges like these; impromptu puzzles set by the changing terrain."
Developers Saber Interactive have added new maps, mod tools, and more to the game since then, and that will continue. SnowRunner's second year of post-launch content started today, with four more paid DLC packs and more free bits. The first paid bit adds new Russian regions with new trucks and missions to rebuild a rocket launch site, up to hauling a rocket to the cosmodrome. That's £10 by itself, or comes with three upcoming seasons in the £21 Year 2 Pass.
On the free side, today has brought newness in a new patch, including a Hard difficulty mode. If you want, that will make you pay for fuel, repairs, and more, the minimap will only show broad search areas instead of specific objective markers, and it'll be unkind in other ways. New trials are in too, the mod tools can tap into more features, and they've generally tweaked bits and fixed bugs. See the Season 4 patch notes for everything.
I'm glad the series is continuing. In 2014, Spintires seemed like the sort of niche game which would be adored by a few people on PC but struggle to get attention beyond serious simheads (as much as we shouted about it). Now we've two sequels and it's all over consoles too. I'd love to see it inspire more developers too. Hell, Death Stranding is just Spintires with cutscenes and legs.