Pacific Drive distant gateway
Screenshot by Destructoid

How to plot a “safe” route in Pacific Drive

Got yourself a trucker's atlas.

Plotting your route in Pacific Drive is central to the game, so it may seem like it would be obvious. In a way, yes, it is, in other ways, no, not at all. Here are some tips on doing it.

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Using the Route Planner

The Route Planner is on the West side of your garage. You can’t even complete the tutorial without using it, so I’m going to assume that I’ve said enough regarding its location.

When you open it, you’ll see all the map nodes you’ve unlocked, as well as the state of them. It won’t tell you exactly what you’re in for, but it will give you a good idea of what route would be the safest to travel.

The first thing you will want to note when planning your route is that only certain nodes will be selectable. These are the ones that allow gateways that will safely end your run and spit you back out at the garage, as well as any objective spots. When you’re planning your route, you’re only selecting the destination, which has to be one of these nodes.

When you select a destination, a route will be highlighted, but that’s just a suggestion. Once you leave the garage, you’ll be able to choose your direction to get there. Choosing a node should be based on your goals for the trip. If you’re looking to advance the story, you’ll be trying to push as close as possible to the objective marked node. If you’re just looking for resources, you might pick a safe spot. If you’re looking for a specific kind of resource, like, say, marsh eggs, you’ll want to pick a biome that has them.

Once you upgrade your antenna, you can pick more than one node to visit. One is usually enough for me. By the time I get to the end of any route, my car is either too beat up or too full of trash to really think about going anywhere else.

Pacific Drive Route Planner
Screenshot by Destructoid

Understanding the Route Planner

You’re given a great deal of information on each node in the map at the time you’re leaving. This doesn’t change as time advances. When you’re prepping for a route, you’re going to want to consider conditions and contents.

Starting at the top, you get a view of what type of map it is. Below that, you’ll see the chances of available anchor energy (Stable, Unstable, and Corrupted), as well as how you’ll be leaving the map. It will read “KLIM for Exit” if you can leave via a gateway. If it says “No Stable Exits,” it means you’ll just be leaving by following the road and will have no choice but to proceed to the next map. Finally, if it says Dead End, you want to avoid it at all costs. Not only can you not open a Gateway, but you can’t drive out, either. You’ll have to abandon your run, and I’ll outline this in more detail in the next section.

Below this are Junction Conditions. These are modifiers that generally make things more dangerous. They might say something like “Eerie Darkness” or “Spark Surge.” If you know you’ll be running into specific conditions, you can prepare for them by outfitting your car to withstand things like radiation or electricity. You can learn more about discovered conditions in your logbook, but it won’t tell you what a condition you haven’t seen means.

Next is a look at the contents of the zone. This includes how dense the fuel, abandoned vehicle, resource, or houses are on the map. In addition to this, these gauges will tell you how much radiation and many anomalies are present. Finally, the likelihood of bad weather and the speed at which storms fall upon the region is shown. These will tell you how to prepare. For example, if there isn’t much fuel in the maps on your route, you may want to pack some pre-filled fuel cans.

Finally, the exact contents of the area are at the bottom of the list. This will tell you the specific types of anomalies that are present, so long as you’ve scanned them. It will also tell you what resource containers are available (box trucks, sodium lights, etc.), and the anchors in the area. However, all of these will only be visible if you’ve scanned them. Whenever you see something new in the zone, make sure you scan it so you can better prepare.

Finally, if a zone is in a wriggling orange cloud, it means that the area is unstable. This means more anomalies, radiation, and conditions. If you can, avoid these areas. If you can’t, I’d suggest just putting the pedal down and getting out of them as quickly as possible.

Avoiding Dead Ends in Pacific Drive

One of the most frustrating moments I had in Pacific Drive was when I accidentally wandered into a dead end. When that happens, you can’t jump into a gateway to get back to the garage, nor is there a safe exit you can just drive through. The game literally tells you to take the L and abandon your run. Doing so causes immense damage to your car and dumps all the resources you collected. This means the run – regardless of how long you spend on it – is scrubbed.

Pacific Drive doesn’t let you plot a route directly into a dead end. You can’t leave the garage doomed to end up in a situation where you must abandon. In order to wind up in a dead end, you need to navigate into it while en route. That means that once you set out on your route, when you’re selecting the next leg of the journey, you’ll want to watch the map to see if you’re about to hit a dead end.

I would suggest that you don’t try to proceed past your destination. If you arrive at your destination, even if there’s a drivable gate out of there, I recommend just taking the gateway out. Dead ends suck. They suck so bad. Perhaps worse than anything else in Pacific Drive. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Watch for dead ends.


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Zoey Handley
Staff Writer - Zoey is a gaming gadabout. She got her start blogging with the community in 2018 and hit the front page soon after. Normally found exploring indie experiments and retro libraries, she does her best to remain chronically uncool.