The Dakar is a very demanding competition. There are those who got lost along the way and never reached the goal. The developers of Bigmoon Entertainment have struggled to create a videogame within the discipline, and what is worthy of praise is that they have managed to reach the goal: they have made it possible … although in a way that could be improved. Analysis of Dakar 18.
We must recognize the merit of creating a game on the discipline of the Dakar, and do so without practically referring to the video game industry. To the delight of lovers of this motor discipline, the Portuguese company Bigmoon Entertainment has created a driving experience that has official licenses and, best of all, a focus on competition that has never been seen with this degree of ambition and loyalty.
We are talking about an open-world driving video game. Each of the 14 stages in which the title is divided is a great orientation test in which we only have a notebook to guide us (roadbook). This is the great distinction of Dakar 18, its main innovation. In the middle of the desert, your only reference is a compass and the kilometer point in which you must turn, always interpreting the information provided by your co-pilot. It is quite an experience, specially indicated for followers of the discipline. Never before had such an approach been made, and it is something worthy of praise.
However, the main problem of the work is that, despite its powerful fidelity attempt and to take care of the licenses, it has forgotten to deal with the most important aspect in the genre of driving: achieving a satisfactory and correct handling simulation of physics. These are the two big steps that the developers have stumbled upon. That, together with the lack of accessibility for the most novice, the absence of interesting modalities, an online with hardly any activity and some important programming errors, force us to talk about a launch recommended only for Dakar lovers … and always that they take into account their asperities.
A great challenge ahead
The best of Dakar 18 is, without a doubt, the licenses. The work of recreation is meticulous, reflecting the original designs to the millimeter. The representation of scenarios (Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina) is done with the support of topographic technology, in a 1: 4 ratio. The most impressive thing is that there are stages that can last between one and three hours, which is a real challenge of resistance at the controls.
Therefore, the level of fidelity is very high. We find brands, pilots and official sponsors. Control points are also present, in which we must stop before continuing, and at the end of each stage, we have to stop our vehicle as we would in reality. Also, and this is something that has surprised us, we can get off the vehicle and use a shovel to get our car out of a muddy area, or help other competitors that have jammed, hooking a cable to push them as if we were a crane.
There had never been such an approach to the Dakar, and it is something worthy of praise
. What is the point of helping others? We obtain Dakar Points (DP) that are used to fix the vehicle. In this regard, it is very important to face the dunes well, and not to do it usually in a straight line. If not, you run the risk of suspending yourself in the air and leaving little by little loading the suspension, something that forces you to lose several minutes in repairs. That among a few other variables. Revolutionizing the engine involves burning it … and so on and so on. All this is very positive, and it is appreciated that the study has taken time to incorporate so many aspects of the real competition.
The problem comes when the additions do not make the video game necessarily more satisfying. Diving through the dunes should be a fun dynamic in itself, and in reality, it is anodyne. The long stages are not well managed, and although all the time you are interpreting the notebook to decipher where you have to go, the monotony comes in a short time. There are not enough incentives, because, in addition, the information about the performance and situation of our rivals is scarce and confusing.
But without a doubt, the worst comes from the base of the game: it’s the driving system. In Dakar 18 we have the possibility to compete with several types of vehicles: cars, motorcycles, quads, and trucks of various manufacturers, among which are Peugeot, Mini, Toyota, Mitsubishi … Unfortunately, control is unpredictable on numerous occasions, especially in the case of quads. Apart from this, the suspension physics – the most important in the game – are not well adjusted, giving rise to a driving sensation that should be improved in the face of future launches or updates.
Coupled with this, I think Bigmoon Entertainment should have paid more attention to the new players. We have a new way in which we are offered an additional guide to not get lost. However, it is difficult to interpret the symbols of the road-book. There is a tutorial, but it is insufficient. It would also be good to immerse more fully users in the Dakar universe, perhaps telling their story, great exploits of pilots, curiosities, interview videos … In short, contribute to creating a hobby, to the user is interested in the discipline. I think that the Portuguese study has a great opportunity here to evolve powerfully for the future (they have the license of the Dakar for three years).
At the level of control and simulation of physics should improve In
addition, it would be advisable to pay attention to the game modes. The career mode has 14 stages, a good number, but it would be great to represent the show in some way … and not be a simple menu in which we go from stage to stage. It has incorporated a modality that is called Hunting of Treasures, consisting of finding certain scattered pieces in the set. Neither has convinced me nor have I seen the meaning. There are no more modalities, except the multiplayer for 8 players and the split screen (much appreciated). The bad thing about online is that there are hardly any people to play with. It’s hard to find games and enjoy them.
Another aspect in which Dakar 18 does not finish taking off is the visual section. The screen has a dirty effect that is very good, but soon you notice that it is really there to hide the lack of definition of the scenarios (tested on a PS4 Pro). On the other hand, the modeling of vehicles is exemplary, a madness of details, but we can not say the same about the damage system and the physical behavior of vehicles in the impacts. Apart, I have detected some important programming errors (invisible obstacles), and load times are somewhat heavy, even despite having applied the launch patch, which by the way is gigantic.
The sound effects comply, but here also more work is required to transmit the strength of the vehicles and, above all, how virulent the desert is. The voices of our co-pilot are in English (subtitles in Spanish), and since it is already difficult to follow the instructions of the notebook, it would not have been more a dub in Spanish. In short, many aspects to be polished, but the good thing is that what Bigmoon Entertainment has in hand is really motivating. The bet for an open-world driving video game that follows the logic of the Dakar is worthy of praise, and we hope that they continue working to make it more attractive. For now, I only recommend it to lovers of competition, and always consider all the aspects mentioned in this analysis.
Creating a videogame about a discipline like the Dakar is not easy, and it can be seen that Bigmoon Entertainment has encountered quite a lot of difficulties in this first edition, starting with much better control. It is praiseworthy to carry out the idea of submerging ourselves in the desert with a roadbook to interpret it and achieve stages of authentic resistance, but as much for the focus, as the results obtained for the level of playable satisfaction, Dakar 18 is a title that at the moment only We can recommend the true lovers of the discipline … and always consider all its pros and cons.
- Innovative driving concept, based on open-world guidance
- The recreation of vehicles and scenarios is outstanding: good use of licenses
- The effort to add multiplayer online and up to split screen for 2 players
- The driving system is very improbable, both in driving and physical
- The stages become very monotonous, lack playable incentives
- Few game modes and these are not sufficiently worked
- The co-pilot’s instructions are not doubled to Spanish
- Visually something is fair, especially in aspects of environment definition