If you wish battle royale had more honking, your prayers have been answered

I guess we're getting to the point where the battle royale genre is developing its own subgenres. By my count there are already two car-based battle royale games out there—Auto Royale (H1Z1's cars-only mode) and Fractured Lands, the Early Access Mad Max-lookin' BR game—and now they've joined by a third. In other words, if you're looking for a brand new twist on BR, notmycar (yes, all lowercase) might not be it.

This car-based battle royale is free to play so there's no reason not take it for a spin, but it's also in Early Access and there are a lot of issues to be ironed out, especially performance-wise. I've played about a dozen matches since Friday, and here's how it went.

After several minutes of matchmaking and driving around in a lobby, everyone is loaded onto a plane. Since this is a game about cars, everyone spends the entire plane ride honking their horns incessantly. It's incredibly annoying, but then it suddenly becomes kind of hilarious before eventually slipping back into being annoying again. I'm pretty sure it's why most people bail out as soon as possible (there's sound you can turn on in the clip below, if you dare). 

As the plane crosses the map, all the cars jump out and fly to the ground using wings that are attached to the cars. I know this is completely standard in BR, but it seems especially weird to me that a bunch of cars take a ride on an airplane, and then exit the airplane while wearing airplane wings. I think I have some questions about the lore of this world.

Once you land, you start driving around and picking up gear, just like in any other battle royale. This is where notmycar begins to feel even more weird. Maybe I'm used to car games where you pick up stuff by just driving over it, but here you have to aim at an item and click a key to collect it. Sometimes you even have to drive inside buildings like barns and sheds to pick stuff up. It tends to slow everything down to a crawl, which isn't what you'd expect in a vehicle-based game.

There are some cool weapons and abilities to collect, though: rocket launchers, miniguns, sniper rifles, and so on, all which get mounted to the roof of your vehicle. There's also armor, repair kits, EMP blasts, shields, and cloaking devices. It's sort of weird being stealthy in a noisy truck painted lime green, but I managed to pull it off for a while.

I could see notmycar actually being fun—driving around at top speed shooting rockets and miniguns at other cars is easy enough to enjoy. But the biggest problem right now is the poor performance I've been getting. It's just not a very smooth experience, jaggy and laggy to the point of being rather unpleasant and difficult to stomach for more than one or two matches without developing a headache. At high speeds there needs to be a baseline of smoothness and that just wasn't there on any of the matches I played on several different occasions, and it's a common complaint in the Steam reviews.

The other issue besides the lag is all the waiting around you have to do. You wait in a matchmaking menu, then you spend some time loading, then you wait in a lobby, then you spend some time loading, then you wait in a plane, then you spend some time falling, and only then do you actually get to start driving. It's at least a good four or five minutes from when you click to start a match to when you actually begin playing.

I'd hoped after a few years of battle royale, newer games would get you into the action more quickly. If anything, this feels like a step backward. Hopefully this, among other things, will improve while notmycar is in Early Access.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.