In a world filled with uncertainty we are able to cling to few sure things. One rock we can grasp to pull us through our days is the expectation that the more advanced clothing and armor that we obtain for our video game heroes will look more impressive than their starter gear. If only this was true in the new Mad Max game.

Perhaps there are those among you who will disagree and who will say that our hero’s outerwear evolution, achieved through the amassing of virtual scrap, is an aesthetic triumph equal to the game’s stunning display of beautiful big skies. If so, we just disagree.

Here is a beautiful sky in Mad Max:

And here is Mad Max’s jacket journey, from minimal Max jacket to max* Max jacket:



What has happened here?

Top-level Mad Max here looks like Generic Video Game Bad Guy #15. I dare say his mid-level jacket was the peak. Maybe the development studio Avalanche can patch a cooler top-level jacket in. They just added better vehicle-rolling to the game in a patch earlier this week. This has got to be the next most important thing.


I’m sorry if you too are shaken by these developments. I know what you’re thinking: Can we no longer expect uber-level gear in a video game to look cool? What next? Staring at a virtual sun in a racing games and not getting a lens flare effect? A Final Fantasy without a fire spell? Mario jumping higher than Luigi?

At least my pretty high-level car in the game is looking great:


Mad Max remains a divisive game for the Kotaku staff. But at the very least I hope we can all find common ground in critiquing Mad Max’s clothes.

*UPDATE - 12:40pm: A couple of readers have informed me that completion of the game unlocks a new jacket that does indeed look cooler. You can see an image of it in the discussions below and/or join me in this half-serious exploration of how game designers succeed or fail in using the aesthetics of a character’s wardrobe to signify greater character ability. I’ve updated the headline of the post so that it now refers to “high-level” jacket since the one I’m criticizing most harshly is not the “top-level” one if you’re counting the end-of-game unlockable. Apologies for the mistake.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo.