Six tips for getting the most out of Mad Max's wasteland

If you've read my review of Mad Max already, you already know that I wasn't the biggest fan of the game. But that doesn't mean I don't want other people to enjoy it! Far from it, in fact!

If you're planning to check out Mad Max for yourself, I've come up with a few suggestions that will make your time with the game much smoother.

Don't ignore side activities

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Some people play open-world games as a completionist, trying to mop up everything the game has to offer. Others just mainline the story, rushing through as quickly as possible. Mad Max doesn't work well with either of these playstyles, but it's especially punishing for the latter.

At several points throughout the main story missions, you'll find the next step locked behind a certain task — building a special car, completing a certain number of stronghold upgrades, etc. It will feel a lot less like your momentum has been shattered if you've been slowly picking at the open world content the whole time rather than just waiting until the game forces your hand.

Even beyond the story mission requirements, it would be wise to spend a good chunk of time exploring the open world and taking on side content. Mad Max's final few missions feature some challenging segments, both in your car and in melee combat. If you haven't collected enough scrap to purchase a good percentage of the upgrades, these challenges are going to feel very frustrating.

Spend time lowering the danger in each territory

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The first thing you're likely to notice about Mad Max's map is that it's huge. The second, once you get out of the tutorial area, at least, is that each section is color-coded, beginning as a dark red and lightening from there. That color is tied to the danger score, which is indicated by the number in the upper right corner of the map screen. Each stronghold — Jeet's, Gutgash's, Pink Eye's and Deep Friah's — has its own territory and its own threat rating.

The threat rating is lowered every time you tear down a scarecrow or sniper's nest, take over a camp or otherwise do anything that will lessen the power of the local gangs. Lowering threat means you'll be less likely to get attacked by bad guys while exploring in that area, but that's not the only reason to do this. Lots of upgrades for Max and his car, the Magnum Opus, are locked behind hitting milestones related to the danger in certain areas.

As an example, the best ramming grill you can equip on the Magnum Opus is locked until you've lowered the threat level in Gutgash's territory to 1. This is a lengthy process, but the reward might be worth it, especially if you're struggling in convoy missions or some of the later story missions that use the car.

Pick your scavenging locations carefully

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Scavenging locations are the one open-world activity that doesn't lower the danger level in a territory, but they're still very important! These tiny camps can provide you with scrap as well as other collectibles, but with over 100 of them to visit and most only having a couple of items, it can be easy to burn yourself out.

Instead of jumping into every scavenging location you see, be more selective. A few hours into the game, after you've run the first few missions at Jeet's stronghold, you'll unlock the ability to complete upgrade projects in the strongholds by collecting parts. If you visit the location for an upgrade project — marked by a ghostly orange outline — you can choose to track the parts in question.

By doing this and visiting these scavenging locations specifically, you can perform double duty. You're simultaneously collecting scrap to upgrade Max and the Magnum Opus while also finding parts for these projects. Which brings us to the next tip:

Complete stronghold upgrades as early as you can

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Upgrading strongholds is incredibly important. Each upgrade provides some really helpful bonuses, such as healing Max to full health whenever he visits, refueling the Magnum Opus and picking up any scrap you've left on the side of the road. There are two especially useful stronghold upgrades that I recommend grabbing as soon as possible.

First, the armory. Any stronghold that has an armory will automatically refill Max's shotgun ammo and shiv supply whenever he visits. Second, the scrap crew. Having this project (and an online connection) will allow the game to automatically collect scrap for you while it's turned off. This means you'll have a nice little bonus chunk of scrap waiting every time you turn the game on, making upgrades easier than ever.

Choose your upgrades carefully

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Speaking of upgrades, Mad Max has a ton. Picking wisely is key to having a good time with the game. For my part, I tended to prioritize Max's upgrades over the Magnum Opus, just to make staying alive in camp takeover missions easier.

It's especially important to upgrade Max's shotgun whenever you have the option. This will let you carry more overall ammo, in addition to doing more damage when you shoot. It's key for both on-foot and vehicle segments.

As for the Magnum Opus itself, I strongly recommend getting harpoon upgrades as soon as you're able. A few of these are locked behind story progress, but a more powerful harpoon makes it easier to take down scarecrows, as well as allowing you to really mess up enemy vehicles by pulling off their armor or even ripping their tires out from under them. I also found upgraded armor very important for the sake of survivability during the more brutal chase sequences.

On the other hand, I found upgrading the thunderpoon — Mad Max's best weapon — unnecessary. This explosive shot is already incredibly powerful, and I was able to make short work of enemies without it. Likewise, the side burners can make your vehicle unstoppable, but the requirements for unlocking them are harsh. You may be better off just sticking with thunderpoons and a heavily buffed shotgun.

Visit Griffa regularly

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Griffa is the mysterious character in Mad Max who provides Max with strong passive upgrades based off of how many levels he's gained. But after your first meeting with Griffa, the game never puts you directly in his path. You'll need to make the effort to visit him somewhat regularly to upgrade your passive abilities.

For my part, I visited Griffa about once every 10 ranks, when Max gains a new title. With that schedule, I was able to keep Max upgrading at a good clip without getting annoyed by having to go out of my way to pick those upgrades.

My focus for upgrades was on increased health first, followed closely by the abilities that provide Max with more scrap, more water and more fuel from scavenging. Your mileage may vary, of course; choose the upgrades that fit best with your playstyle. Just make sure you're getting them at a good pace.