It had been long overdue, but was patience rewarded? Released this week, the official video game of the Dakar promised a rebirth and a work finally worthy of the world’s largest rally-raid. To get to the bottom of it, we got our hands on a PS5 copy. An immersion in the unknown that, let’s not spare the suspense, rather seduced us.
However, the adventure got off to a bad start as our steering wheel was not recognized by the game, however the publisher assures us that updates are already in the works to add as many compatible steering wheels as possible to next-gen consoles. In the meantime, we still launched this test with the controller, a rather interesting challenge that confirmed the finally more universal than expected aspect of this game.
As for the setting, the decoration is quite fast and well planted. A fairly immersive soundtrack and beautiful landscapes immerse you from the first few minutes, with a fairly well thought out introduction to discovery before embarking on the bulk of what the Dakar Desert Rally has to offer: the career mode.
And there, first good surprise, because everything is quite well thought out and, above all, intuitive. Immediately, we see the 2021 edition licenses being used and promoted, which greatly contributes to the success of the immersion effect. We won’t reveal everything to you so as not to spoil the pleasure of discovery, but rally raid fans have a lot to enjoy with a large map that serves as a race plan and will guide you from one event to another in the heart of Saudi Arabia. Arabian. Because the attention is obviously focused exclusively on this unique territory, which has hosted the Dakar since 2020.
We can regret not being able to visit other countries, yes, the places have the advantage of being extensive, of offering very varied terrain, and the climate is responsible for offering very different conditions from one stage to another. Thus, throughout our successive hours of play, the dreaded monotony did not settle.
To embark on the adventure, three difficulty modes are offered: Sport, Pro and Simulation. In the absence of a compatible steering wheel, we give up the latter to focus on the second. And the experience was very nice! If the Sport mode does not put the navigation in the center of attention and generally simplifies everything, the Pro mode puts the slider on a very interesting level. And there, we discovered sensations that we had not necessarily come to look for…
Will you keep the right course, or circle the desert!
With the joystick and this level of difficulty, the automatic transmission was essential. Above all, we quickly realized that the driving was not strictly speaking at the heart of the game (which is not to say that it is not the case in the Simulation mode with the steering wheel, but we cannot verify it). The gameplay is very accessible, quite permissive, and the maneuverability returns pleasant joystick sensations in hand, with a real feat: that of achieving it either by car, SSV, motorcycle, truck or quad. And this richness is one of the strengths of the game as the career mode will never lock you in a straitjacket. You are free to change from one type of vehicle to another and from one rally to another, which significantly increases the lifespan.
With a gameplay so “simple” a priori, what is the bet of this Dakar Rally through the Desert? Well, we have been surprised by the pleasure of looking for our route, of being attentive to the instructions of our navigator (absent on a motorcycle, yes, who takes on the challenge), of knowing how to decipher a roadbook and, above all, to be able to stay on course ! Once you’ve mastered the game’s mechanics, as well as the browser’s prompts (and their possible timing errors…), coming up with the perfect scenario clearly provides a bit of fun. And yes, if you want to know everything, we also did circles in the desert before we found the right path! The duration of the stages is quite well thought out, at least at the beginning of the race, with timed sections of between five and ten minutes.
Visually, the set is successful, although certain textures or special effects can sometimes leave us unsatisfied, but the few gaps are well filled by the presence of the licenses that give it a lot of realism and, above all, the breadth of the usable terrain. tone down underwhelming passages where graphics can look average, particularly effects when passing through water.
After several hours of play, the real question was: do we want to go back? And the response was positive, which confirms the success of this work. We liked its ultimately very accessible side for a discipline that isn’t necessarily accessible at first glance, and the way the many elements are treated to stick to reality. Purists, us the first, will no doubt lament the permissive gameplay, but the question is often central and difficult to decide when it comes to car games. Without a doubt, there is a small arcade aspect, but the production is good, with news already announced for the coming months in order to perfect the game but also to enrich its content.
Dakar Desert Rally is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X | S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.