Warner Bros. and Avalanche Studios has officially announced the much rumored Mad Max game at E3. Titled Mad Max, it is scheduled to release in 2014 for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and PC.

In this new open world, third-person action game, the player assumes the role of the lone road warrior in a post-apocalyptic world where “cars are the key to survival.” From what we experienced with our time with the game, Max’s car does indeed play a major part in both combat and exploration.

About the first thing we saw in the game’s presentation (and then tried for ourselves later) was the vehicular combat. Max drove his souped-up car down a desert road when suddenly a convoy of dune buggies rushed down a dune (what else?) and came up beside him.

The convoy’s aggressive driving quickly turned to open hostility as mutants started leaping for the buggies onto Max’s car. Luckily for Max, one blow from his trusty shotgun has enough to send them tumbling into the dirt. Now it was time to get rid of the vehicles themselves. Ramming into them is always a fun option, but a bit mundane – why not use a harpoon gun? With it Max can tear the wheels off vehicles, causing them to crash spectacularly.

The shotgun and the harpoon game were all the weapons that were shown during the hands-on demo, but we are certain there will be many more ways for Max to destroy enemy vehicles and buildings.

Instead, the devs choose to focus on the driving experience itself. The car handles just like the real thing, and will react to surface tension, traction and weight. Driving it over a dirt road felt significantly different than over sand or even rocks, and players can customize the car to fit their driving style.

Max’s trusty mechanic, a mutant named Chum Bucket, is able to both fix the car during battle and upgrade/customize it on the fly. In a surprising move, Mad Max won’t feature a “correct” or a “superior” build for the car – it is up to the player to really think about the pros and cons of every new part. Would you sacrifice speed for stronger, but heavier armor plating, or would you save your gear to be a more powerful engine that will negate the extra weight?

Once we were done drooling over the driving mechanics, we tried to engage in some close combat with a bunch of stinking mutants. This was a pretty straightforward affair: Max punch, shot and use objects in the environment as makeshift weapons. After dispatching of the mutants, we spotted a sniper next above the camp, and with a little bit of stealth we got rid of him up close and personal.

After the small camp was clear, Max got back it his car and drove over to want looked like a post-apocalyptic fortress, heavily guarded by more mutants. We used our newly installed battering ram to smash through the gates – and that’s when the iconic Avalanche Studios mayhem began. The combination of the car and close melee combat was pure adrenalin, with explosions, falling structures and mutants flying everywhere.

Everything we saw in the demo took place in a huge map filled with lots to see and do (we didn’t see or do any of these things, but they were there). Imagine our surprise when the presenter than zoomed out even more, revealing that the map we played on was but a small fraction of the game’s full map. Mad Max is just a huge game, and hopefully the final version of The Wasteland wouldn’t feel as empty as it did in the hands-on demo.

Mad Max by Avalanche Studios looks really promising and exciting to play; so promising, in fact, that we crowned it the best Action-Adventure title of E3 2013. Watch the reveal trailer below, followed by an interview with the game’s senior designer.

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