We're now just one month away from the much-anticipated release of Gravel, Milestone's new arcade rally racer IP that has the potential to be a spiritual successor to the beloved Sega Rally. Last year we were inundated with serious racing simulations like Project CARS 2, Forza Motorsport 7, and Gran Turismo Sport, so Gravel's timing couldn't be better. We recently got to grips with the latest preview build ahead of Gravel's release next month to find out if it lives up.
Running on Unreal Engine 4, it's clear that Milestone's graphics have come a long way in recent years compared to some of its earlier WRC games. Gravel looks visually stunning with crisp car models, detailed environments, and some of the best mud effects we've seen in any racing game – especially in the PC version which runs at a smooth 60fps, though we did notice some slowdown in the work-in-progress build. Hopefully this will be rectified in the final game. While nothing has been officially confirmed, the console versions will most likely be locked at 30fps, sadly. Engine audio has been significantly improved since the underwhelming sound effects in Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, too.
Gravel features over 50 iconic rally cars from the past and present, including Group B rally cars, American trophy trucks, cross-country vehicles, and rallycross cars. Initially, the accessible physics were akin to Sega Rally, but the handling in the latest build of the game has a surprising amount of depth if you turn off the assists, though it's still by no means a hardcore simulation. Gravel is all about having fun in its high-speed off-road races after all, so the controls lean closer to the arcade side of the spectrum.
We also got to sample a small selection of tracks and came away impressed with the layouts that encourage intense close contact racing. Gravel is shaping up to be a fun throwback to old-school rally racers like Sega Rally and Dirt Dash. If you're a fan of off-road racers, Gravel should definitely be on your radar when it releases on PS4, XBox One and PC on February 27th.