Badlands Crew will let you build and operate your own adorable Mad Max war rig for tactical post-apocalyptic shenanigans

A gas mask-wearing drummer on a war rig
(Image credit: Runner Duck, Curve Games)

Runner Duck, developer of Space Crew and Bomber Crew, has revealed the next entry in its series of simmy roguelites: Badlands Crew. Badlands Crew will see you building and operating Mad Max: Fury Road-style war rigs as you ride out and pacify a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and it's set to launch some time in 2024.

The Crew series offers challenging tactical battles where you wrangle an entire, well, crew full of chibi little guys operating grand war machines⁠—WWII-style planes in Bomber Crew, and fully classic starships in Space Crew⁠—with chaos and disaster being the order of the day. In addition to the change in setting and bringing the series to solid ground for the first time, Badlands Crew will also introduce extensive vehicle customization.

Jon Wingrove, technical director and co-founder at Runner Duck, told me that the focus in Badlands Crew's vehicle building will be less on Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts-style physics interactions, but rather the stats and interdependent systems of your rig in a way that reminds me of FromSoftware's Armored Core series.

"The player will have to think about the weight of the vehicle, but also about the usage of space on the trailers and how their crew will get around," Wingrove told me. "Some more advanced weaponry will require support systems such as air compressors, which take up space and can become damaged and need repair." In addition to the mechanical tinkering, Wingrove also said that players can "paint almost the entire vehicle" however they want.

This customization will also extend to your team on the vehicle, and unlike other crew games, there are no set roles for these characters. Wingrove said that characters will level up as they participate in successful missions, with investment in their various attributes unlocking skills and perks like advanced vehicle maneuvers, or the ability to target specific areas of enemy vehicles.

You'll set out on missions from a central base in the wasteland, taking on tasks that range from timed survival to intercepting enemy convoys. From a campaign world map, you'll choose which direction to press forward in and capture forward strongholds to expand your territory and launch new missions ever farther into the desert. You'll be competing against enemy factions like the "Gun Nutz" shown in the trailer and contending with desert hazards like a suspiciously Shai Halud-looking sandworm. Like previous Crew games, death is permanent for any of the cute little guys you lose out in the desert, but a shrine area back at the Citadel will commemorate fallen buds.

The Crew series' take on micro-scale tactics, using a gaggle of little guys to finagle with the insides of a great machine to try and make it behave how you want, feels like an inspired fit to nail that beastly grandeur of a Mad Max war rig in a videogame. If you'd like to keep up with development of Badlands Crew ahead of its 2024 release, you can wishlist the game on Steam.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.