Trackmania players have been trying to complete a challenge map so ludicrously hard there's a $30,000 prize for reaching the top, and over a month after release no-one's done it

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

A standout moment for Trackmania was the release of Deep Dip in November 2022, a 14-floor map that represented the greatest challenge in the game's history. Each floor was put-together by a different creator, and asked different things of players, and the goal is simply to get to the top. But there's one very important kicker: not a single checkpoint. You miss a jump on Deep Dip, and you're going all the way back to the bottom.

Deep Dip wasn't the first "tower" map the game had seen, but the challenge was so extreme it was accompanied by a $1,000 prize pool to be shared among the first finishers, and anyone who was anyone in the Trackmania scene had to at least try it. One such figure was YouTuber and Trackmania stalwart Wirtual, who at the end of April posted a history of Deep Dip showcasing his own eventual completion of the map, which doubled-up as an announcement for Deep Dip 2 (thanks, RPS).

Sadly, they didn't call it Deep Dip 2: Dip Harder, because that's the general idea. Everything that players love-slash-hated about Deep Dip, but cranked up to the max: This time with 16 floors of ludicrously escalating challenge, a community funded $30,000 prize pool, and still not a checkpoint to be seen anywhere. The map was released on May 4, 2024.

Over a month later, not a single player has completed Deep Dip 2, and watching their attempts is absolutely agonising. Every single floor of this thing is a nightmare which, in and of itself, is not a problem. But when you combine that with the absence of checkpoints and the vertical construction that means any tiny error can wipe out the last three hours of play… well, if this thing isn't responsible for a few smashed controllers, I'll eat my hat.

We live in an age where any new release is ripped-apart within days, and community challenges like this are rarely any different: especially when there's that giant prize waiting at the end (the $30,000 will be split between the first three players to complete the map). But Deep Dip 2 is at the time of writing unconquered, even though some players have reached the final floor.

Here they've been met with the Trackmania equivalent of a big middle finger: a huge vertical surface that has to be crawled across while balancing the car so it doesn't fall. Three players have reached this stage: Larstm, Hazardu, and Bren_TM2. But dear old Wirtual, for the sake of his sanity, has bowed out after reaching floor 14.

"Half an hour of perfect driving without falling just to explore the hardest floor," observes Wirtual in a video about why he's throwing in the towel. "And it feels very unrewarding in that sense."

Wirtual is not alone in this feeling. While most are enjoying watching the Trackmaniacs bash their heads against this near-impossible challenge, others are frustrated that the challenge level is so high that it precludes players of average skill having any fun with it.

"The map I think is too difficult," adds Wirtual. "The difficult floors should be earlier in the map because this way of exploring is so taxing... This is the type of map where you need the determination and iron will of a god. Seriously."

With those three players on the last floor, however, it's surely only a matter of time before one of them makes it. But the time it's taken has been acknowledged by the project lead SparklingW as an issue, and something that will feed into any future Deep Dip 3.

"I think that Deep Dip 2 is really pushing the limits of how hard a map like this can be," says SparklingW in an interview on the Trackmania Mappers Assembly podcast. Making a map any harder risks moving into the realms of the impossible, or creating something where "no-one is actually going to dedicate that amount of time to it without some serious motivation."

It's a balancing act, because the whole point of this is a ludicrous challenge that brings the Trackmania community together as players try to beat the map, and others watch their feats of skill (and fails).

"For an event like this, obviously this one is already taking quite long," acknowledges SparklingW, "and if it really starts taking too long then people will lose interest. Obviously at the end there will be big hype again if someone finishes it, but there may be such a long period in-between where there's not that hype… I don't think it's healthy for the format."

With that in mind, and the withdrawal of big community stars like Wirtual, SparklingW reckons that next time around they'll look to hit a balance where the challenge remains high, without being quite so insurmountable. "Deep Dip 2 definitely hits the limit [of difficulty], so when we're looking at Deep Dip 3 I would say it's definitely going to be somewhere between Deep Dip and Deep Dip 2, rather than more difficult."

Masochists can try Deep Dip 2 for themselves in Trackmania now, while the community alternately argues over whether it's too hard and waits in expectation for one of their own to crack the nut. Should the tower be toppled in the next few days, I'll update this piece.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."