Spintires started as an obscure survival horror game for trucks, played out in the unfamiliar gloom of a Russian wilderness, featuring vehicles you’ve never heard of. The B130, the C4320, and of course the K700. Don’t forget the plucky little UAZ-469! As it has found its way to a wider audience, it has been slowly pried from the obscurity of its Russian gloom. When publisher Focus Home Interactive rebranded it as Spintires: Mudrunner, they added driver avatars that made it less creepy. Who wants to play as a sentient truck? Now they’re scooching back the Russia to make room for America. Just as European Truck Simulator could only hold out for so long, Spintires could only hold out for so long. Nothing says America like big-ass trucks doing truck things!
The American Wilds expansion — teased in this trailer to the blare of a harmonica because what could be more American? — will be released October 23. It will add homey American maps with American buildings and presumably less gloomy American skies. But more importantly, it will add American brand names. What could be more American than brand names? It’s like when wargames eschew the Eastern Front of World War II, or the Arab/Israeli Wars, or Napoleonics. In the largest videogame market in the world that isn’t called “China”, who wants to play a game where you can’t even be America?
According to the press release, American Wilds consists of…
…a number of highly-requested additions, including 2 new sandbox maps inspired by the rough lands of Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota, new challenges to tackle, and seven of the most iconic US trucks from household brands including Hummer, Chevrolet and Western Star.
I’m not complaining. The game deserves a wider audience because there’s nothing else like it. Most driving games are about speed. But Spintires is about the point of contact between machine and earth. It’s about mud, mass, and traction. So long as the sheen of American color and corporations doesn’t change that fundamental part of the game, they can slather it in whatever American trappings they want. Give it a MAGA hat for all I care. After all, Spintires is already about sullying yourself because you’re struggling with the burden of unwieldy baggage in a churned up quagmire.