hands-on: realistic driving and glorious crashes

BeamNG car crash cropped

Cars are hard. BeamNG.Drive may have just crashed onto Steam Early Access this week, but I don't get the feeling that the driving will get any easier. It's not that the controls are bad, it's actually the exact opposite. BeamNG.Drive probably has the most realistic driving of any car-based game I've played, so when I tried to play it like a videogame, things went predictably poor. Watch the video above to see how poor.

I could noticeably feel the difference between heavy cars and light cars, between a stock engine and a souped up one. I was confused why driving over simple speed bumps would tear my car to pieces, until I realized I was trying to drive over them at 60+ MPH—a feat completely achievable in a game like Grand Theft Auto 5, but near suicide in the real world. It took some time for me to adjust to how the game wanted me to play, but once I did I found there was actually a deeper level of control over what I could make the cars do. Nothing felt unintentional or unexpected about the driving, just very precise with a high learning curve

Fair warning though: while BeamNG.Drive is currently a fun sandbox game, it is definitely an Early Access game. There are only a handful of levels, no form of progression, only a couple of sparse game modes, and a whole suite of other missing features. The sound is particularly lacking, as there isn't any music, and the car sound effects are clearly placeholders. There is enjoyment to be had here and the softbody collisions can be really incredible to watch, but don't go into BeamNG.Drive expecting a finished game, as its Steam page says it is at least 12 months from being feature complete.

But if you already have BeamNG.Drive in Early Access, share pictures of your most glorious crashes in the comments below.

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.