Heading Out

Heading Out: Hands On Demo At PAX East 2024

Hands on Demo of Heading Out at PAX East 2024

I was lucky enough to attend PAX East last week and even luckier to play Heading Out at PAX East 2024. It is published by Saber Interactive but developed by Serious Sim and will be released on Steam on May 7. Heading Out has you racing across America as the interstate Jackalope, avoiding police and choosing your journey in this racing Roguelite. I played for over half an hour and was impressed by the game’s visuals, sound design, and story.

Heading Out to PAX East

I was involved in various police chases, races, and scenic driving. The car’s handling allows for some style, as you can drift and even flip your car if you’re not too careful. You feel like you’re hugging the road, but with one false move, you could smash into oncoming traffic or drive off the road after hitting a patch of dirt. When completing missions, you can stick to the route or discover shortcuts to get you to your destination or beat whoever you are racing.

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Because of the choices you are allowed to make, each run is personal and unique, and none feel the same. The radio host reacts to your choices, and the dialogue caters to those choices in Heading Out. Heading Out has over 300 radio recordings, so the variety you hear on each run will make it feel like a different experience. Your run is divided into four acts: dynamic chases, radio broadcasts, mystery travellers, resource management, path choosing, and encounter events. Heading Out offers unlimited replayability, and a single playthrough takes 8 to 12 hours. You will need to control your resources, such as gas and wanted level, so choose a route that suits your current needs.

At the beginning of the demo, I was asked questions like “Are you in a relationship?” to cater to your run, and you don’t have to answer truthfully. The answers generate a story for you, and I wish more games would do something interactive like this. You will get a brief tutorial on using the main map, and it’s a bit of an outlier compared to maps in most games. You control the flashing dot on the screen by pressing the gas peddle down to move the cursor and having to press the brake to avoid detection from the cops. Once you get to an event point, you’re back in the car, racing to the next destination, but make sure you listen to the radio to know what is happening in the story and around you. You can change your view of the road, so it is up to you to sit inside the car or view it from its rear.`2

Some greats like Frank Millar inspired the art direction they chose for Heading Out. It reminds me of Sin City, with its black-and-white palettes and splashes of colour. I was told some notable car movies, like Drive and Death Proof, heavily influenced them. You can see the comic book influences shine as you’re driving. You will see your foot on the pedal moving in the corner in the comic book frame. You will see the sky light up red, adding a creepy ambiance and a mystery I want to know more about.

Your car also has a few meters you need to keep an eye on – the Focus meter and the Car Condition meter. While I only noticed them, I wonder if the Focus meter is there to help your character collect on the road. The car condition also needs to be monitored, so don’t go in expecting you to slam in everything and not worry about keeping your car in good physical condition.

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After playing the demo at Pax East 2024, Heading Out has become one of my most anticipated games for this year. It wasn’t on my radar, but it intrigued me because of its unique art designs and a different spin on the roguelite genre. I do not play many games on my PC, but I can’t wait to get my hands on Heading Out when it releases on Steam on May 7th.