Believe me, that joy exists. Careful driving opens a world of possibilities in car video games, and I can say that from experience. In this article, I am going to share all that with you
I know the stereotype. Most car video games focus on racing, whether as F1-like competitions or dashing through city streets. There are off-road titles as well, but it is just a matter of adding snow, water, and/or mud splatters to the same racing spirit. Now, what if I told you that there is more to enjoy in all that?
At a first glance, we can say that some other games embrace slow driving. It means that they reward your effort to drive with calm and precision rather than using high speed or drifting. They show us a different side of car video games which is just as compelling. This article is going to show you more about all that.
What is slow driving?
Normally, you play by driving a car on a track, or an open world, in the lowest possible time. That requires you to time acceleration and braking so as to keep the car moving fast while staying under control. Some games take it up a notch by bringing damage, gear shifting, power sliding, and/or different ground types.
In slow driving video games, the goal is the journey. You have to pay special attention to the road, to the surroundings of where you are and/or how your car behaves. A mistimed gear shift may not penalize you, but an incompatible set of tires surely will. These games need your perception to be general, not focused.
To me, the cherry on the top is the fact that those new standards make other cars the favorites. While the Toyota Supra is a staple in racing games, SnowRunner uses a Chevrolet C/K1500 to ride on rough terrains. That change shows more cars to beginner fans and is a great chance for veterans to brush up their skills.
You can focus on the car
As said before, slow driving games shed light on unusual cars. Forza Horizon 5 brings you the Oldsmobile Toronado; Midtown Madness 3 offered you an Opel Astra, and so on. Going away from the cliché is great on its own, but driving cars you actually see on the streets, or have even owned, brings a special feeling.
Besides that, driving fast cars is too frantic. Slow cars allow you to enjoy the engine sound building up to the top speed. You can make a great curve or even drift without needing surgical precision. You can even shift gears according to the song’s beat. Good speakers or headphones make a huge difference on that.
There is another perk for players who appreciate car design. By toying with the cameras, we can observe the car from several angles without the risk of immediately crashing. Since the latest video game consoles offer stunning image quality, taking a screenshot is enough to generate pictures worthy of being framed.
You can venture off road
The faster the car, the more track-oriented it is. Slow driving games, on the other hand, are a great match for open worlds. I personally prefer the latter because it feels more realistic to drive from one event to the other rather than being teleported. Not to mention it brings a whole new source of in-game interactions.
Need for Speed encourages you to find other drivers and challenge them to a street race in real time. The Burnout franchise happens mostly outside actual races, considering that its goal is to destroy other cars. Grand Theft Auto has countless missions where the driving part starts or end in remote, off-street regions.
SnowRunner is a particular example in this regard. The game essentially needs you to pick up items at one place and deliver them at another with no time limit. You have to explore the region and find a path that your vehicle can effectively follow without tipping off, burying itself in mud, and/or running out of fuel.
You can look for hidden items
First, we are not talking about easter eggs. Those are unrelated to the regular gameplay and may exist in all types of games. Here, we refer to game missions that require you to reach remote regions of the map. Some are pointed out and you just need to figure how to get there while others are a complete mystery.
In Euro Truck Simulator, you can find new garage locations if you want, but doing so is necessary to make more money. Midtown Madness hides exclusive paint jobs while Need for Speed hides technical upgrades. SnowRunner, in turn, encourages you to spend many playing hours as a trucker version of Indiana Jones.
Even when those tasks are optional, they are useful to get you acquainted with the map before venturing into actual missions. Besides that, they can be a pleasant break: there are times when you want to play the game but are stuck in one of the regular missions. You can spend some time enjoying it in this other way.
You can use cars for other goals
The best example we can mention here is Grand Theft Auto. That is an action game with entirely unrelated topics, yet car driving is essential to it. It is faster than walking or cycling while easier to find and to steer than airplanes. Not to mention that stealing cars on the street is one of its signature features since GTA I.
The Simpsons: Hit and Run is much less violent but works similarly. You have missions of all sorts; cars are essential within a secondary role. And Euro Truck Simulator is one of the franchises where you can found a whole company with hired non-playable drivers to make money even when you are not driving yourself.
We know that some of those examples are not considered car video games. However, that is the beauty of it: slow driving gives us chances to enjoy cars even in those other titles. If you enjoy interacting with other gamers by streaming or chatting on social media, that allows you to connect with many more of them.
New sorts of car video games
Those topics above show us that slow driving represents pretty much an alternate world in terms of video games about cars. I have always been interested in analyzing cars as an element of our society, and these titles embody that. They see cars as more than transportation vehicles which can move forward quickly.
Now, do not let those traits make you think that slow driving is dull. I, for one, like how they allow me to savor driving. Hearing a Volkswagen Beetle RSi scream towards the sixth gear, making a Fox-body Ford Mustang gently slide through a curve, or fording a river with a truck can bring the same rush of driving fast.
With this article, I hope I could properly introduce slow driving games to you. I do not consider myself a gamer, but I have played my share of car video games over the years – by the way, that explains the age of some examples mentioned here. I will finish this article showing some specific examples you could try.
Euro Truck Simulator 2
Some roads actually allow you to drive fast for a truck’s standard. However, precision is what will take you from being broke to owning a multinational freight company. While the settings allow you to reduce road traffic, the real challenge is going in and out cargo bays: repairing truck damage can cost your whole pay!
Forza Horizon 5
Yes, this car game has hypercars that get close to 500 kph. However, it also lets you buy a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette and casually drive in the open world without any concerns. I recommend that car because of its spectacular engine sound and its long four speeds, but there are literally dozens of other enjoyable ones.
Grand Theft Auto
In the famous franchise, cities have pedestrians, traffic, and urban items that can damage your car. In the countryside, that role is played by trees, lakes, and steep hills. Crashing too much may set your car on fire, which leads to a fatal explosion. Slow but sturdy trucks are actually more helpful than fragile sports cars.
You get to drive trucks at severe conditions such as muddy swamps, sharp hills, and deep snow. The goal is to haul different types of cargo from A to B, but there is no rush. SnowRunner does not set time limits, so you can sit back, play your favorite music, and take your time devising strategies to drive your trucks.