Drive Buy beta review
Drive Buy is an upcoming game from UK-based developers Glitchers. Described as a “cross-play, vehicular combat game with a delivery twist”, it’s due to be released on Steam and Switch on 12th March and, as you may have noticed in that description, offers cross-play between the two systems.
The concept behind the game is that the players are drivers from rival delivery companies who are scrambling to make the most deliveries, and thus the most money. In a minor divergence from the real world, the delivery vans are capable of collecting powerups laying around on the streets. Example powerups are freeze guns, EMPs, and rockets. Just regular everyday things you find on the street.
While Drive Buy is primarily an online multiplayer game, it can be played offline against bots to get a bit of training in for those of us a little too worried about our lack of skills. I’m not saying I need as much training as I can get, but I definitely need as much training as I can get. As is common with online multiplayer games, progress and challenges are only supported when actually playing online.
If you’re someone that prefers to play with a group of friends then you can create a private lobby and invite your friends in. All matches have four players, which feels about right for the map size. If there are empty player slots then those will be filled out with bots to keep the numbers up. Local multiplayer won’t be supported on Switch at launch, which may reduce the appeal for some people. Glitchers haven’t confirmed nor ruled out adding it in the future, but either way for now each person will need their own Switch console.
While I’m on the subject of playing with friends, what better way to show off your victories than by unlocking cosmetics that everyone else wishes they had? You can win and equip customisations for your vehicle as well as emotes and badges.
The three game modes available at launch will be:
- Delivery Battle: Pick up and deliver packages while using powerups to hinder the other players.
- Pay Day: Grab credits at the start of the match and then battle until time runs out.
- Piggy Bank: Earn credits by being in possession of the pig. The game ends when time runs out or a score limit is reached.
The developers plan to add additional content at defined “season” intervals, as is the trend.
Ok, so, enough of the marketing spiel. What do I think of the game?
The easiest way for me to describe the feel of it is if Crazy Taxi was an online multiplayer game that took inspiration from Mario Kart battle mode. It’s not a realistic driving simulator and I hope I can assume that you weren’t reading this expecting it to be. As it’s not trying to be realistic the developers had a lot of room to make it easy to get in to and they took full advantage of that. If you’ve played any driving game then you should be able to pick this up and immediately understand the controls. You’ve got your go, stop/reverse, steer, plus boost, handbrake, and a button to use whatever powerup you’ve picked up. Sorted. Simplicity of controls is key for games of this type; you want the players to be focusing on the action going on around them, not on remembering which of a dozen buttons is bound to a specific thing they want to do.
You can probably just drop straight into a multiplayer match and learn as you go, but what kind of reviewer would I be if I didn’t check out the training mode? Plus, as I said earlier, it’s usually safest to assume I need the help if I don’t want to be destroyed in a PvP match. The training mode places you into a game mode of your choosing with three AI players. Challenges and progression are disabled but otherwise it’s the same as a regular match. My experience in training mode was mixed. The Delivery Battle mode was fun enough. A little repetitive, but it didn’t really feel like it dragged. The AI players put up a surprisingly good fight at my complete beginner skill level, holding me off from 1st place. On the other hand, the AI were no problem at all in the Pay Day and Piggy Bank modes and I rarely even interacted with them. In Pay Day mode, especially, you can boost straight toward the cash at the start and then just drive around and wait for the timer. Because of this, Pay Day felt like it ran on for far too long and could have done with being a good minute shorter, at least. Piggy Bank felt better and this was partly due to in-built score limit, which I reached long before the timer would have ran out.
All that is my experience in training mode against the bots though, and you wouldn’t really expect those matches to be as enjoyable as ones versus other players. They’re mainly there to get new players used to the controls and how the game modes work. How did it go when I added real people into the mix?
It was certainly more fun against human opponents, as you’d expect. I started out voting for Delivery Battle matches, as that feels like the “default” gamemode for Drive Buy. The other players in my lobby seemed to feel the same way as they mainly voted to play Delivery Battle as well. In my first match I achieved the most deliveries but came third overall as the other players were playing more aggressively with the powerups and also likely read the map better and avoided doing big loops around it to get where they were going. I swear I understand left and right! In my second match I did much better at both of those things and managed to come first. Not bad for my second match against real people.
Having determined that Delivery Battle was better against humans, I tried out the other modes. Once again, my opponents were generally voting for the mode that I wanted to play, which was very convenient. The Piggy Bank and Pay Day modes didn’t fare so well against AI opponents but I had high hopes that they would be much better if I was facing some biological rather than artificial intelligence.
I’m happy to report that my hopes were answered and the Piggy Bank and Pay Day modes were definitely a lot more fun against human opponents. They came after me more aggressively than the AI and made better predictions about what I would do next, exactly as you would expect. It made those modes much more competitive and ensured I was always on my guard. Except for that one time, where…
I actually did better than I expected on Piggy Bank each time I played it. I mean, hey, we all have to be good at something. Maybe my thing just happens to be one specific game mode in a game launched in 2021. On the other hand, when it came to the Pay Day mode I did well but I wasn’t completely dominating and first place tended to change hands multiple times, so I’m probably not ready to throw in my day job and start a new career as an esports star quite yet. The extra challenge when playing against human players meant that the durations of these two modes didn’t feel as excessive and I didn’t find myself staring at the clock waiting for it to reach zero. Except when I was in the lead and needed it to reach zero of course.
I like how the three game modes feel quite different to each other. Pay Day felt like the most intense of the three due to it being a free-for-all battle mode. It’s entirely about attacking your opponents and picking up the cash they drop when destroyed. This contrasts well with Delivery Battle focusing on the deliveries with a side of attacking your opponents when convenient and Piggy Bank being about staying away from your opponents as much as possible while you have the pig. This provides some good variety to each round despite there only being the three modes.
Three modes may not seem like a lot but, to invoke a game I enojyed in the past, Mario Kart: Double Dash also only had three battle modes, two of which were broadly similar to the ones in Drive Buy. Double Dash relied on two key things: map variety and local multiplayer. Similarly, I think the number of maps available at launch in Drive Buy will be key in maintaining some replayability, and it would be good to see local multiplayer arriving in the future if that is on the team’s radar. The team intend to release new content in the future as well and it’ll be interesting to see what form that takes.
So that’s my experience with the Drive Buy final beta. Overall I’d say it’s a fun game and definitely one to try out if you’re in to this style of multiplayer game. If you’re interested in checking out Drive Buy after reading this then a demo is available on Steam.