Mad Max is an action-adventure game set in an open world post-apocalyptic environment, emphasizing vehicular combat, in which the player is the eponymous Mad Max (Bren Foster). According to its publisher, up to 60 percent of the game focuses on driving. Some weapons and tools, including flamethrowers and turbo boosts, are mounted directly onto the Magnum Opus, while others, such as a grappling hook and sniper rifle, are used in conjunction with the vehicle by Chumbucket, Max’s assistant, or Max himself. Max’s Magnum Opus, with its V8 engine and powerful ramming ability, can destroy enemies’ vehicles and weaponry. When simultaneously driving and aiming, the game changes to slow motion to allow the player to toggle between targets. Although Mad Max primarily uses a third-person perspective, the player can switch to first-person view when fighting enemies while driving the Magnum Opus. Chumbucket repairs the car when instructed to do so or when the player exits.
To encourage exploration, the Magnum Opus can be upgraded with materials scavenged from the desert, by hijacking enemies’ cars or collecting their car parts. An enemy can jump on top of the Magnum Opus to make it explode, but the player can avoid that by surrounding the car with hazards such as spikes. The player can access the garage screen throughout the game, allowing them to customize the Magnum Opus. Max’s garage can change and modify the car’s engine, chassis, wheels, body work, paint job, and its “shell”. Upgrading one aspect of the car will negatively affect other aspects; upgrading the engine will allow Max to drive faster, but handling will be more difficult. The sound produced by the engine changes when the player changes, adds, or remove parts of the Magnum Opus. Max, his armor, and weapons are customisable; the player can unlock new skills and upgrades for him as he progresses through the game and earns experience points. Max is also customisable, with his clothing, appearance, fighting skills, and weapons being modifiable. Griffa, a wasteland wanderer, also offers Max tokens which can be used to upgrade his abilities.
Although the game has many choices (such as playing stealthily or aggressively), it emphasizes action over stealth. Mad Max features a variety of weapons, including Max’s iconic shotgun, but ammunition is scarce and the game emphasizes melee combat over firearms. ne weapon is the explosive Thunderstick, which can be lanced into an enemy’s chest. The game has a free-flow combat system combining professional wrestling attacks and boxing techniques, similar to Warner Bros.’ previous Batman: Arkham video-game series (in which indicators on enemies’ heads remind the player when to strike, counter or make finishing moves). Attacks by Max during his “frenzied” state are more powerful than usual.
Mad Max’s landscape consists of canyons, caves, deserts, and abandoned wastelands. The game’s world is divided into several regions, with each having its own backstory and landscape. Unique landmarks and ruins can be discovered in each region. Side activities such as races, time trials, invading enemy fortresses, and eliminating enemy convoys can be found in each region. A region’s threat level is lowered by completing these activities, facilitating its navigation. Each region has a boss, who can be found and defeated in their base. Some of the game’s strongholds are friendly, and eliminating hostile strongholds gives Max additional quests and rewards. These strongholds can be upgraded, offering Max different benefits such as helping Max to collect scraps when the game is turned off, or restoring Max’s health and shotgun ammo upon visits. Max can ascend in a hot-air balloon (permanently attached to the ground) to look for new objectives and locations. After seeing the objectives through binoculars, they are highlighted on the map.Max can be guided by Chumbucket in strategically completing his objectives. Max is accompanied by a dog companion called Dinki-Di, who can help players detect land mines. Max has limited climbing abilities, and objects that he can climb are highlighted in yellow.
Most resources in the game are scarce except for gasoline, which is needed for driving. The player can collect one jerrycan at a time, storing it in the back of the Magnum Opus, and can find collectibles (history relics) throughout the game. The relics are primarily photos and notes of the wasteland before the apocalypse. Food and water are vital to Max’s survival; the player can collect them in the wasteland and use them to replenish their health. Max can also eat small animals, such as rodents, and maggots from decomposing corpses, to replenish his health, and areas where he can find food and supplies have crows flying around them. The player can venture into the Big Nothing, an uncharted, volatile area of the wasteland with dangerous sandstorms and no food or water in which rare parts for the Magnum Opus can be found. According to Avalanche, due to the “Big Nothing”, the game’s map is infinite. A dynamic day-night cycle, a weather system and a variety of environmental hazards are included in the game, whose terrain is affected by weather and natural disasters.