THE PCG Q&A
Being able to drive or fly cool things is a central part of videogames going all the way back to the arcade. Games have let us fly TIE fighters and sail pirate ships, crash Warthogs, and steer whatever that strange landship thing from FAR: Lone Sails is called.
Our latest weekend question is: What's your favorite videogame vehicle? It can be a car, plane, spaceship, sailing ship, or apparently a horse. Whatever you like. Here are some of our answers, plus a few from our forum members.
The Magnum Opus, Mad Max
Christopher Livingston: A car felt like a boring choice, so first I was thinking about my sloop in Sea of Thieves, and then about my spaceship in Elite Dangerous. But I'm gonna have to say it's a car after all, and that car is the Magnum Opus from Mad Max. It's covered with spikes (eventually), it's got a harpoon to pull other vehicles apart and a completely OP sniper rifle that folds into the trunk, and there's never been a more satisfying car to slam full tilt into other cars with. You can give it a bunch of different looks in the garage including the body of a Rolls-Royce or a Chevy 5 Window Coupe (like the one Nux drove in Fury Road) so you never get tired of it. The only thing that sucks about the Magnum Opus is that sometimes you have to get out of it to punch dudes. Otherwise, it's perfect.
Porsche March, Stunts
Shaun Prescott: Stunts was a brilliant DOS racing game with loop-de-loops, jumps, ramps, obstacles, cereal box office buildings... the lot. It had a level editor, a hilarious and powerful replay function, and around a dozen cars to choose from. The catch is that all of these cars were absolute trash except one: the Porsche March. It was far and away the fastest, and it handled better than any of the others. Because of its speed, you could defy the fairly simple physics of the game with ease, usually by coming off a ramp at high speed just so, or spacing out jumps perfectly in the level editor so that the vehicle would hurtle endlessly into the sky. Or seemingly endlessly: it'd always come back down, sometimes whole minutes later. My '90s hard drive was full of footage of this thing crashing and burning.
The Cyclops, Subnautica
Andy Chalk: Subnautica freaked me the hell out. There's not much more unsettling than the feeling of absolute vulnerability that comes from swimming in an alien ocean with nothing but a skin suit, especially when you're sharing the space with giant, hungry, horrifically grinning sea snake things. The Cyclops sub changes all that. It's big, tough, has lots of storage space and toys to play with (and dark corners to hide in when things get completely out of hand), and can go just about anywhere. That opens the door to all sorts of interesting places that were previously inaccessible, and—this is almost as big—enables you to wander around them in relative safety and security. It's still dangerous as hell down there, but when you're behind the wheel of a Cyclops you can focus on exploration, instead of constantly worrying about what sort of horrific death lies in the black waters ahead.
The Scout Car/Buggy, Half-Life 2
Emma Matthews: You can put that thing through absolute hell, getting it stuck in strange places, dislodging it with explosive barrels and running over copious Antlions. Enabling the turbo boost makes the best noise, and its little headlights oddly remind me of Brum. It's so cute!
Airships, Final Fantasy
Wes Fenlon: There are a million vehicles more satisfying to control than the airships in Final Fantasy games, but design-wise, they're fantasy excess at its finest. Don't make me pick a favorite, because I love so many of them. The Shiva from Final Fantasy 12 is the centerpiece of the game's most stunning bit of concept art. But mainly my tastes trend towards the more ridiculous, anachronistic designs that look like pirate ships somehow taken flight. I think Final Fantasy 9's Prima Vista takes the cake. It's the traveling theater ship of thespian/thief guild Tantalus, a bloated whale of a flying contraption that looks like it's the size of a small town. They actually dock the ship and perform plays right on the deck, which transforms into a stage. You never get to control the Prima Vista, but it's in a few of Final Fantasy 9's cutscenes and I just love how imaginative and elaborate its design is. Those '90s Final Fantasy designers freakin' loved airships, man.
My horse, Red Dead Online
Lauren Morton: This question has massively exposed the fact that I rarely play anything that isn't historic or fantasy. I'm still playing a lot of Red Dead Online and I'm going to unilaterally decide that horses qualify as vehicles. There are actual vehicles like trains, canoes, and wagons in Red Dead Online but they're all mostly impractical and a pain. My Red Arabian horse is a real trooper. She holds all the animals I hunt. She doesn't mind ferrying outlaws to the nearest prison on her rump. When I jump her off a cliff she usually gets back up. And she can do donuts, which is like the most fun thing to do with a digital vehicle anyway.
The Normandy, Mass Effect
Jody Macgregor: I liked the Ebon Hawk from Knights of the Old Republic, but it's really just a copy of the Millennium Falcon right down to the bird name. The Normandy felt like my ship, especially after it got blown up and rebuilt in Mass Effect 2. And being able to walk around on your own spaceship is one of those fantasies videogames should deliver but rarely do. Wandering the shiny halls and interacting with the crew gave me exactly what I wanted from that.
You don't get to fly the Normandy, but for several dozen hours it was a set of rooms with all my favorite people in it and some leather upholstery. That's all I want.
From our forum
Zoid: The Halo Warthog. It's so satisfying and simple to drive, and it's a great vehicle for coop play when you and your buddy occupy the turret and driver's seat. Honorable mention: all of the ill-advised rockets I've ever created in Kerbal Space Program.
Pifanjr: The cars from Rollcage. Specifically Jet. Nothing beats going 400 mph in a car that can drive upside down (both in the sense that it can drive on the ceiling of a tunnel and that it can flip over and just keep going) while blowing up both your competitors and the scenery and buildings around you.
Chriz86: The Mako of course! Kidding, it's probably the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, I tend to gravitate towards that car for its handling in every racing game that features it.
Frindis: Definitely driving around in the 10-cylinder engine Banshee car from GTA 3. It is very easy to maneuver and a cool looking sportscar. I remember breaking out from a car dealership the first time I got my hands on it and man did it go fast! Other than that I have to give an honorable mention to the Ford Mustang GT from Need for Speed Underground 2, having one of the most awesome engine sounds I have ever heard in a game.
Johnway: Does driving a stompy mech/powersuit count? if so i'll take the Titanfall's titans. Honorable mention to Far cry 3 Blood dragon mech at the end of the game: Battle Armored Dragon Assault Strike System (B.A.D.A.S.S.) . But generally any mech/powersuit that can WASD and has a lot of dakka gets a thumbs up from me.
More conventional stuff? I guess recent examples are all of Just cause 2/3 military vehicles spring to mind. Infinite bullets and rockets to take down the waves of enemies arrayed against me.