If you think back to last year, you may remember a series of videos from a startup company’s ambitious project that focused on bringing a realistic, highly-detailed, and real-time soft-body physics engine to the video game world in beautiful, destructive harmony. That startup is called BeamNG and their incredible videos of digital cars being wrecked in unimaginable ways in a working prototype of their upcoming game have been taunting us with the idea that a racing game of the future could have that level of realism.
All you had to do was scroll through the comment section on their YouTube videos (or even here on Hooniverse) to see just how many people wanted to throw money at their computers to have a go at playing it, which at the time, you couldn’t.
Well guess what? Now you can.
BeamNG is finally giving gamers and crash enthusiasts what they’ve been waiting on for over a year by releasing both a free tech demo and early access to the paid alpha for BeamNG.drive, the name their final game will carry.
The free tech demo features a large proving grounds-type map featured in some of their earlier videos filled with jumps, terrain, stuff to crash a digital truck into, and other crazy geometric shapes – all of which allow you to be creative in your destruction and see their revolutionary soft-body physics engine in action. This big digital playground to crash stuff in is what we all wanted when the first demonstration videos hit YouTube, and the only thing that stands between you and the digital mayhem is a 94MB download and the right computer hardware (more on that later).
However, if you opt for the paid alpha of BeamNG.drive, which costs $15, you get all that and more. The paid alpha includes six different locations to drive around and explore [for things to crash into], five customisable and fully-destructible vehicles, and full modding and content creation capabilities which allows you to make new vehicles, maps, and even script gameplay.
Since it is still in the alpha stages and thus still being improved, all future bug fixes and new updates to the game (like new vehicles and features) will be included at no extra charge. The upcoming beta version and even the final game will also be a part of the deal.
The announcement video from BeamNG can be seen below and it’s definitely worth a watch as it shows you all the features you get in the paid alpha and what they’re planning to include in future updates. Plus it shows more spectacular crash footage like what got us hooked in the first place.
If you were wondering why soft-body physics are worth raving about, that’s why. Compared to what happens in just about every racing game, when you crash into a wall at speed you won’t be driving away with just cosmetic damage. Every car is rigorously modeled in their physics engine for full destructibility.
As one could imagine, this level of realism requires a great deal of computing power to make it happen. I would advise against buying the alpha until you’re sure you have the computer for it. To check, head on over to their wiki for a full rundown of what is required and recommended to run BeamNG.drive. Even the free tech demo, which is all I dared to try, is very demanding, even at five frames per second and with all video quality options set to “please don’t blow up my computer”.
So if you, like many of us, have been dying for a chance to play around with that fantastic physics model from those YouTube videos that could truly change the future of video games, now’s your chance.