Monster Truck Championship is the latest from developer Teyon, who previously released games like Urban Trial Playground, Terminator: Resistance, and Rambo: The Video Game. As the title suggests, the core gameplay loop revolves around racing monster trucks and performing in events to win championships, while allowing players to manage sponsors and employees.
With how far and few monster truck games are, especially of the technical variety, Monster Truck Championship has an interesting premise. Unfortunately, in many ways, the game fails to live up to expectations. The game mostly delivers on its promise, but it comes at the cost of several other parts of the game, including the monster trucks themselves.
With 16 trucks, 25 arenas, and 3 leagues, the Monster Truck Championship seems like it should offer enough variety to keep fans entertained, but it turns out to be too fast. There are only a handful of game modes, including race, drag race, time trial, freestyle, and destruction, and with arenas spread thinly among those options, players will find themselves on the same track multiple times. Then, with about 30 or so events spread across 3 leagues, the gameplay loop becomes very small.
It doesn’t help that these game modes are barely interesting. Most are common in racing games, and the big draw of monster trucks is their ability to destroy smaller vehicles and perform crazy stunts, freestyles and destruction will be where the game shines. Instead, these game modes are short tasks to perform tricks and run over things without feeling any monster truck power. Whether it’s driving a trailer, getting off a car, or hitting a port-a-potty, there’s no power behind the gameplay—these trucks ultimately feel neutered.
This is true in all aspects of Monster Truck Championship gameplay. Monster trucks are, by definition, anywhere from 10 to 12 feet tall and weigh anywhere from 9,000 to 12,000 pounds, and they tend to blow an average of 5 motors per year. The raw power behind one of these machines is their biggest draw, but the Monster Truck Championship makes them feel like 2 ft with weak physics. When hitting other trucks or objects, there is no visceral reaction. Perhaps worst of all, it often feels like the truck isn’t even hitting the ground, instead just sliding.
Upgrading the truck requires winning events and earning money to buy better engines, better tires, or some new cosmetics for the truck. There are enough customization options where players can create a satisfying truck, but with a limited selection of upgrades, Monster Truck Championship players don’t do much more with the truck than get the next best thing. There is some micromanagement of the team and sponsors, and players get bonuses when completing a sponsor contract, but everything in the end seems like fluff to expand the main content of the game.
Failing to deliver the power of a monster truck, Teyon manages to deliver a highly controllable and immersive experience, with the right settings. Many may default to the no damage, automatic third-person gameplay, as it seems to show off the trucks more, but changing it to full damage, manual first-person gameplay offers a better Monster Truck Championship experience. The damage isn’t particularly exciting to see, the automatic transmission doesn’t add much to the game, and the third person doesn’t offer much immersion.
Seeing the hits from the steering wheel look and feel better, having to manually change gears in a race or to perform tricks is more satisfying, and being in the truck makes it feel seems appropriate. This means players have to control their trucks to the best of their ability, adding a challenge where it didn’t exist. This approach allows for a completely immersive experience, but it will only work for those who really buy to get the most out of the game. Choosing more casual options results in the game feeling like a bad racing game.
Ultimately, Monster Truck Championship’s controls are the one thing that stands out from the otherwise repetitive and dull gameplay loops, thin content, and questionable game physics. Many monster truck fans may be waiting for the “next great monster truck” game that manages to deliver on all fronts, and unfortunately it doesn’t.
Monster Truck Championship releases October 15 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a Switch release planned for a later date. An Xbox One code was provided to Today Technology for the purposes of this review.