- Turn-based racing/combat situations
- Each player controls a team/gang of characters.
- Racing and combat autoduel leagues run in all major towns
- Highly detailed rules for movement, including rigid body physics, terrain properties, slipstreaming/drafting, per-chassis characteristics
- Highly detailed rules for combat, including skills, specialisms, detailed weapon characteristics and recoil/splash effects, critical hits and detailed damage and injury resolution, damageable tyres, suspension, engines, weapons and chassis
- Real real-time strategy: travel, healing, training, car modifications/repairs all run to a real-world timescale
- Detailed economic simulation: trade, piracy, starvation. The economic cycles of Darkwind take months of real-world time, and are affected by trade conditions and the amount of piracy occurring on the road.
- NPC gangs controlled by AI: pirates, traders, bountyhunters, autoduellers
- Cars, trucks, motorcycles
- Varying security levels allows greater rewards to be earned through greater risk, and allows the game to be challenging to both newbie and veteran alike
- Player ownership of production facilities and warehouses & camps
- Scheduling system for attacks on player or NPC-owned installations
- Contracts of work (delivery, bodyguard, etc.) available from NPCs
- Psionic powers available to a small number of gifted individuals
- Mutants, sometimes available as player characters
- Performance-enhancing drugs with side-effects, some addictive