Make Way is a superb party racer. Its arcade driving is incredibly approachable and the focus on improvised course creation means that it can be enjoyed with friends time and time again.
Endlessly replayable races
Terrific building mechanics
Extremely fun with friends
Matchmaking can feel unpolished
Lacks AI opponents online
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Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC, Xbox Series X | S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 (TBA), PlayStation 4 (TBA)
Release date: November 3, 2023
The second release by British studio Ice Beam, Make Way is a modern reimagining of classic top-down arcade racers elevated by the introduction of one simple but brilliant mechanic. Facing up to three rival players in online or local play, the big twist is that it’s entirely up to you and your opponents to craft a unique race course as you go using a random selection of track pieces.
These range from your standard stretches of open road and basic bends to more exciting additions like loop de loops and complex moving platforms that quickly cause every match to devolve into glorious vehicular chaos. This is all wrapped up in a charming toy box aesthetic that is the perfect fit for such a playful and low-stakes party game.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a surprisingly deep element of strategy to master here too, however. The ability to also put down more devious hazards such as moving barriers and bouncy stacks of tires, in addition to the wide range of offensive power-ups that are available as you race, rewards particularly sly players with the delightful satisfaction of outsmarting their opponents.
It’s an utterly fantastic formula that’s nothing short of an absolute blast to play with a group of friends. This is one of the best racing games we've played and Make Way should be right at the top of your list if you’re looking for an approachable multiplayer racer to add a little more whimsy to your game nights. The lack of any AI opponents if a player drops out online and the occasional technical hiccups when utilizing the game’s matchmaking system does sting and these slight rough edges make it a little harder to recommend for those wanting to race solo.
Block by block
The game's robust track creation is an integral part of Make Way and every match alternates between distinct building and racing phases. Your course initially consists of just a floating starting point and players are presented with a shared screen containing a few track pieces to get the ball rolling.
All the pieces on offer here are randomized and you can only pick one. If another player manages to nab your top pick first you will have to make do with other options. This often results in a small scramble as everyone rushes to try and get their hands on the most interesting (or deadly) pick of the bunch - a clever way to start stoking the flames of competition right off the bat.
Once you’ve made your choice, it’s time for everyone to attach their chosen pieces. They all easily snap onto the end of the existing course with a pleasant pop, but, like the selection process, it all happens in real-time. You’ll need to act quickly if you want to get your particular bit of track in first. There is a strict time limit here too, which entirely circumvents the possibility of a match grinding to a halt purely because one indecisive competitor couldn’t quite decide the perfect orientation for their corner.
It’s a very intuitive system, aside from the occasional need to rotate a piece in order to avoid jutting against the boundaries of the map, so a complete group of four can rapidly expand the scope of the course very quickly. There’s almost no unnecessary downtime, so you’ll soon move on to the next stage: the race itself.
Vehicle handling in the racing sections is just light and imprecise enough to pose an engaging challenge without ever seeming too unpredictable or unfair. Physics are very exaggerated across the board, with cars pinging off the track at the slightest touch of a barrier, but there’s still plenty of precise control when it counts. Braking is especially effective and knowing when to start slowing down when approaching corners is vital if you want to win.
You can’t ever take things too slowly, no matter how tempting it seems, as the camera is tied to the first player and anyone who ends up off-screen is instantly eliminated. This keeps the pace consistently high and organically incentivizes everyone to put the pedal to the metal and try to end up in front. Once someone hits the finish line, you’re all given a new set of pieces to choose from and the whole process begins again. Each round adds more and more to the course, which you race in its entirety every time, and it’s incredibly satisfying to see it evolve.
Nothing beats watching your track become an absolute nightmare as the obstacles stack up. Surrounding a tricky corner with giant fans to push your opponents to their doom is a devilish treat - just be careful not to fall victim to your own hazards down the line.
Unlike a conventional racing game, Make Way uses a points system to determine the overall winner. With every new section of track, the previous finish line is automatically converted into a checkpoint which provides the opportunity for any eliminated players to respawn and get right back into the action. You gain points by reaching each checkpoint in first place and, at the end of a match, these feed into an overall account level that sees you unlock new pieces, modes, and cosmetic vehicle skins.
Throw a decent selection of goofy power-ups like giant hammers and car-mounted Tesla coils into the mix, and you have a seriously compelling loop on your hands. The only real issues arise when you’re playing without a group of friends. The matchmaking can be a little patchy and, if a rival player suddenly disconnects, the lack of an AI opponent to replace them can leave you having to complete the rest of the course solo. These are obviously only minor complaints and understandable limitations for such a small-scale title, but they nevertheless hold Make Way back from being a truly flawless all-in-one package.
Unfortunately, there are no dedicated accessibility settings to be found in Make Way. In addition to a keyboard, the game can be played using a range of compatible controllers that may make it more accessible for those who rely on a certain setup for their inputs.
How we reviewed Make Way
I played more than five hours of Make Way on PC. During my time with the game, I alternated between using an Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 and keyboard controls. In addition to playing online matches with strangers, I enjoyed several fantastic sessions with friends over Discord calls and tested the local play capabilities. I also made sure to unlock and try my hand at each mode.
Dash is TechRadar Gaming's Hardware Writer. Before joining TechRadar, he was a print journalist writing articles for some of the UK's biggest gaming magazines including PLAY, Edge, PC Gamer, and SFX. Now, when he's not getting his greasy little mitts on the newest hardware or gaming gadget, he can be found feverishly devouring the latest Nintendo Switch otome.