Heavy Duty Challenge Review

My first draft review of Heavy Duty Challenge was somewhat unflattering. After spending a few evenings with the game, I found it to be slow, awkwardly designed, full of technical issues, and not all that fun. However, I sat with for a while and waited on a couple of patches that were promised, and – while it’s still not the best example of this genre of game – things have improved for the most part.

I’ll try not to refer back too much to what you’ll not get to read, but those picking up the game now will find a much better performing game. Whereas frame rates and resolution were pretty shocking before (especially on the Series S), we now have a far more fluid, almost 60FPS game. This helps with the visuals and control feel of course, and it’s easier now to get into the action without feeling like we’re fighting the game at every turn. If, like me, you played on day one and were put off, I’d encourage you to head back and see the difference a few weeks makes.

In-cabin views are usually the best way to play, but here it’s just too tricky to get a handle on the surroundings to be useful

Getting back to the game itself, this is in the vein of games such as Snowrunner or Overpass; heavily physics-based games where we slowly manoeuvre a large vehicle over rocky terrain to get to the goal. In doing so, we need to make use of different drive modes, change gears at the right times, and try and stay within the checkpoint markers.

The tutorial is pretty basic though, with it not really giving us much in the way of explanation of the differing drive modes for example other than ‘they’re there, so use them on this training course that doesn’t really do a good job of showing you why”. Players more acquainted with this sort of game will be fine, but for less experienced players like myself a little more in-depth teaching would have been welcome.

A big bug bear for me though is in how Heavy Duty Challenge kicks off the game post tutorial. We’re dropped into an area on a scavenger hunt, looking for five gates to pass. The idea is to get to grips with different terrain and explore for a while, but the way this is implemented is just not great. There’s no overall map, no sense of where we should be looking, and it’s far too easy to be turned around and end up back where we were already. At launch this was made even harder by poor performance and a camera that did every thing it could to block our view, though these elements have been somewhat alleviated now that we’re able to adjust the camera height a little. It’s still a poor introduction to the gameplay proper though, and would have been better served as a side mode or an end cap on the career.

We do at least only need to find the final gate to pass it, and it’s from here things improve somewhat. Rather than just being plonked down and left to it, the rest of the campaign focusses on more track-based runs in different countries. These are packed with obstacles to mount and pass on our way to a clear end goal, and are far more fun to play than the scavenger hunt.

I wouldn’t say there’s that much Challenge though. For the most part, I found sticking it in All Wheel Drive and 2nd gear was enough to blitz most obstacles, and the rare times I got stuck I simply hit a button to go back to the recent checkpoint with a minor penalty. There were were very few moments where I wasn’t either sailing along or irreversibly stuck, and so little reason to try to brute force a way out of a jam Online leader boards are there for those that are so inclined which is a nice touch, and something that might give more cause to come back over time.

Vehicles can be upgraded once we earn enough currency, and there is a noticeable difference when a vehicle is fully buffed. As part of the code provided for us we got a load of credits to be able to buy and upgrade almost everything, though in our (admittedly little) time playing on a second account it seems as though credits are doled out fairly quickly.

These courses can be fun at times, even if they lack a proper challenge. They are at least far better than the Scavenger Hunt opener

There is a distinct lack of excitement throughout the game though. No music plays while in game ( albeit the menu music proves that’s probably a good thing), so all we get is the grunt of an engine and occasional, mild rumble in the controller. HDC is the work of a small Polish team so I’m not expecting super flashy celebrations every time we finish a course, but more than simply getting a splash of our time and then kicked back to the menu would have been good. I ended up leaving each play session of HDC with a feeling of not much at all, and little real desire to keep coming back.

One final down note is steering wheel support on Xbox. The store mentions support for them but at time of writing, my Thrustmaster T248 is still not on the list. I’ve been told a fix is in the works for this and others that don’t function properly, but it’s not going to be a quick job, so maybe hop in their Discord or Twitter to see if yours works before buying if that’s a big deal to you.

Conclusion

Heavy Duty Challenge is at best just fine, and at worst actively off-putting to play. A dreadful opening might put players off, but the course on the other side of it can be somewhat fine, if not all that taxing. There are better physics-based vehicular games out there to play, though if you’ve had your fill of them, this may fill the gap for a night or two.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

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Good
  • A fair amount of content to play
  • Course based challenges are passable
Bad
  • Performance is improved over launch, but still leaves something to be desired
  • Cumbersome menus and tutorials
5
Average
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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