Contraband: Everything we know so far

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Contraband is coming to us from Avalanche Studios, the developer behind some of the best open world games of all time. Most known for making a name for itself with the Just Cause series, along with Rage 2, and Mad Max, Contraband is a new co-op experience that will no doubt benefit from the studio's experience and expertise from its past titles. 

As one of the most intriguing upcoming Xbox Series X games on the horizon, Avalanche is collaborating with Xbox Game Studios to bring us this new experience. But since it was first revealed back in 2021, news has been pretty quiet on the Contraband front. We have however since learned that Avalanche is working on a second open world game alongside this supposed Xbox exclusive.

While we await more news, read on below to find out everything we know so far about Contraband. 

Contraband release date and platforms


(Image credit: Microsoft)

Unlike most of the games shown during Microsoft’s game-studded E3 2021 conference, the mysterious Contraband was given no release date whatsoever. What we do know, however, is that whenever this intriguing Microsoft exclusive does arrive, it will launch on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PC. Microsoft also confirmed that Contraband will be a day one release on Xbox Game Pass

While Avalanche hasn't said so outright, it does appear that the new game is an Xbox ecosystem exclusive, so don't expect a Contraband PS5 or PS4 release. 

Contraband trailer

The debut Contraband trailer was shown during the Xbox and Bethesda E3 2021 showcase. The teaser was designed to set the mood of this upcoming co-op game from Avalanche, and give us a hint towards the setting and characters. We'll still waiting for the first Contraband gameplay trailer, although it's unlikely one will land before 2023. 

Contraband gameplay


(Image credit: Microsoft)

While Avalanche Studios is yet to show Contraband gameplay to the public, we do have a few details to share. For starters, we know that Contraband will be a co-op adventure, and that it'll be built on the "next generation of the Apex Engine" – which is the technology which helped power the Just Cause games. 

Contraband game director Omar Shakir has also teased that the game will be a "co-op smuggler's paradise", and that it'll be the "most ambitious and spectacular game" from the studio to date. 

Shakir also says that Avalanche is "taking everything we've learned from 18 years of being at the forefront of creating beautiful, vast open game worlds filled with stunning vistas and incredible gameplay moments." So if you've spent the last two decades wondering what an open world, co-operative Just Cause might have looked like... well, Contraband may just be what you've been waiting for!

Contraband setting, and characters


(Image credit: Microsoft)

While we have yet to see any Contraband gameplay in action, we do have a fairly good idea about what awaits. Set in the 1970s, this open-world co-op adventure sees players exploring the fictional world of Bayan – a smuggler's paradise.

In the cryptic CG teaser, we get a glimpse of a map that details your squad's heist plans, and what looks like your base of operations. That map refers to a rather ambitious-looking heist known as the "Sun River Job." This heist seems to involve nabbing a fireproof safe from Khoo Private Storage and bolting it across the border in order to make a clean getaway. The map also suggests a decoy to help with the safe getaway. 

Another shot is of someone working underneath a four-wheel-drive vehicle in a cluttered garage. If you can figure out what the significance of the neon sign saying "Ketok Magic" is, let us know. We can only find that the word Ketok means "knock" in Indonesian, and that there's a Canadian indie musician called I Am Robot and Proud, AKA Shaw-Han Liem – who also co-created the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita game Sound Shapes – who has a song called Ketok Magic. 

Another shot of a radio setup has a list of preset channels hanging from a rooster ornament. That lists River Valley, Highlands, Coastline, and Pirate Tower, all locations we can expect to visit in the game. There's also what looks like a ship's cargo manifest, no doubt detailing some delicious loot. 

Contraband development


(Image credit: Microsoft)

Contraband developer started three years ago at Avalanche Studios. The developer is best know for the Just Case series, and for games like RAGE 2 and Renegade Ops. following the Contraband reveal, game director Omar Shakir released a statement (opens in new tab) which teased the collaboration. "Three years ago, we started talking with our partners at Xbox Game Studios about what a co-op smuggler's paradise would look like and how we could bring it to life together."

"To fully deliver on our vision for Contraband, we have an amazing team at Avalanche Studios that are pushing the boundaries with the next generation of our Apex Engine, the technology behind all our games, including the Just Cause series. We built the engine to unlock the creativity of our developers and we’re excited to take full advantage of the unique capabilities of Xbox Series X and S."

While you're waiting for Contraband to release, why not return to one of the best Xbox Series X or best Xbox One games available today. 

Josh West
UK Managing Editor, GamesRadar+

Josh West is the UK Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. He has over 10 years experience in online and print journalism, and holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing. Prior to starting his current position, Josh has served as GR+'s Features Editor and Deputy Editor of games™ magazine, and has freelanced for numerous publications including 3D Artist, Edge magazine, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. Additionally, he has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh likes to play bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in a few movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.

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