Street racing games have been popular since Need for Speed and Grand Theft Auto first dominated our childhoods. I can speak for many of us when I say that our parents cringed and prayed that we’d “never drive like that in real life” while we sipped soda and thought we were the coolest outlaws around. These types of games are designed with speed in mind, so you seldom see gamers searching “Jeep dealer near me” on their virtual navigation system. Jeeps (especially Wranglers) are top-heavy models that don’t handle quick turns very well, so they’re probably not your first choice when you’re trying to reach the finish line.
That said, Nathan and Elena wouldn’t have been able to escape Atoq Navarro’s clutches in Uncharted 4 if it wasn’t for the ole trusty Jeep Wrangler. There’s definitely a place for Jeeps in gaming. In fact, I believe there are several reasons to include Jeeps as in-game vehicle options. Whether it be in fan games or official titles, us Wrangler enthusiasts are ready to see more Jeeps in the gaming industry!
#1 – Off-Road Police Chases
One of my favorite moments in Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 was when I would turn off onto a dirt road, losing the cops in the dust cloud behind me. As fun as this was, I always wished that there could be more of it. But before I knew it, I’d find myself right back on the blacktop, speeding on a highway.
I’ll be honest when I say that I’ve played many racing games that allow my Nissan Z to climb mountains that, in reality, I probably couldn’t even climb in my Jeep Wrangler Willys. After all, the unrealistic nature of video games is why we love them so much. However, a true, realistic off-road police chase is something we’ve not gotten to see in gaming often. One minor example of this is in the 2016 game, The Crew, but the unexpected twist is that the cop is driving the Wrangler, not the speeder.
Street racing is one thing, but what about rural speed chases? When you think about the mountains or small backwoods areas, the Nissan Z loses its edge. You want something that turns off onto a gravel back road and heads up the holler without getting you stuck somewhere. This is where the Wrangler comes in. Sure, you can stick with the Lambo for city speed chases, but adding Jeeps as options would be far more realistic for rural cities and tracks. Just like in any other racing game, the competitor cars will adjust accordingly to match your selection. It’s not like the game is going to force you into a Wrangler vs McLaren F1 faceoff.
#2 – Mall Crawling Fun!
Just because Jeeps are top-heavy doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t belong in street racing games. After all, triple rolling your vehicle isn’t unrealistic in a racing game. Plus, how many times have you thrown your bike driver across six lanes of traffic just to be reset and start your drive all over? Who cares if you roll your Wrangler a few times in-game. That’s what the roll cages are for! Jeeps have been overlooked in street racing games for far too long. Besides, there are actually many mall-crawling Wrangler enthusiasts out there in the city who want to feel included in these games, too. (We see you, High Altitude drivers!)
Having a Wrangler in this city comes with its benefits. You could remove the tops, doors, and windows to experience open-ended cruising. Plus, just like driving a truck in-game, you could topple over all the tiny, annoying cars and threaten anyone in your path. Especially if you put a lift kit on your Jeep.
#3 – Treasure Hunting and Adventures
One game series did it right, better than any other game yet, and that’s the Uncharted series. The main character Nathan Drake searches for treasure and somehow manages to escape death multiple times while doing so. One of the ways he makes his great escape is via a trusty Jeep Wrangler. The Wrangler reappears throughout the series, originally showing up for chase scenes. In the game A Thief’s End, players can get in and out of the Jeep and use it in open-area driving environments for quicker travel.
Disappointing Spoiler Alert: Sony abandoned the classic Wrangler in the new film with Tom Holland for a Hyundai Tucson Elite. The Tucson Elite does look rugged in the movie, but it’s no Jeep Wrangler. While any SUV is better than a car or truck for adventure games, nothing is more ideal than a Jeep. They offer great looks, undeniably better off-roading capability, and the removable tops and doors make them more fun than competing models––which brings me to my next point, customization.
#4 – The Ultimate Customization Options
When you own a Jeep Wrangler, the only thing that’s more fun than off-roading in it is customizing it. Sure, it’s fun to throw some underglow and racing stripes onto a Camaro, but the Wrangler’s customization features are endless. This is true whether you want functionality, aesthetics, or both. If developers add a Jeep into the game, players could add and customize winches, choose which top type they want, add a lift kit, throw on some angry eyes, and much more. Wranglers also include halo lights, light bars, and a plethora of sidestep and wheel options.
#5 – More Jeep Inclusion or a Jeep-Themed Title?
As exciting as all these features sound, the truth is that they’d work even better in a Jeep-themed game series. While Jeeps certainly do need to be included more in gaming, especially when it comes to adventure games, we haven’t had a Jeep-specific gaming title since Jeep Thrills for PS2 in 2008. This game earned a whopping 1-star review from IGN (ouch) and is, of course, severely outdated. Between the Nintendo Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series S, an updated Jeep-themed off-roader is way overdue.
The beauty of a Jeep-themed game is that it could go beyond the listings mentioned here. Think about it––model year selection, trim-level selection, off-roading trail tracks ranked by difficulty level, mod customizations, and custom tent attachments. Oh, and let’s not forget the inclusion of computer-driven Bronco competitors. The list goes on and on. You get the point.
Alright Jeep, it’s time to partner with a reputable gaming company and give us Jeepers what we’re asking for. Let’s see what the Rubicon 392 can do without the restrictions of reality to keep it grounded. Let’s get on this one before Ford does. None of us want to see a game with a bunch of Broncos unrealistically outdoing the Wrangler.
Bonus – The In-Game Jeep Wave!
Why honk when you can wave? Adding in a Jeep Wave functionality that provides the player with bonus points, rewards, or trophies when they wave at other Jeepers would be a hilarious and also fun addition to any driving game. Plus, it initiates children into the Jeep cult early on, making it much easier for you to turn your kids into little, annoying Jeepers. It’s certainly not the top option on my list, but I think it would make for a funny feature––especially in a Jeep-themed video game.