BeamNG.drive update adds new maps and cars to the smashing car playground

BeamNG.drive is, in a way, the Dwarf Fortress of car games. It’s a six years and counting early access project determined to simulate every element of wheeled vehicles, where the fun of playing with it feels like a side effect more than a deliberate intention.

But it is fun, and it’s just received a massive update that includes new maps, new vehicles, revamped graphics, a traffic light system, and “an improved oil simulation”. Heck yeah.

There are a bunch of videos in the Steam blog post introducing the update, but here’s the most significant, introducing the new Gridmap.

For those who haven’t played it, Gridmap was the original physics playground shipped with BeamNG.drive. A greybox space filled with tubes, bumps, ledges for you to drive across and into, so you could see the game’s remarkable soft-body physics shudder and shatter your vehicle into its hundreds of constituent parts. The new version of the map is four times larger than before, split into eleven zones, each with a particular focus.

BeamNG.drive has come a long way since its greybox beginnings, and now has large open world spaces to drive around, with roads, buildings and traffic simulations. As of this update, the “East Coast USA” map now has working traffic signals. AI vehicles will stop at red lights and traffic will flow as urban planners intended. The same feature will eventually roll out to other maps.

There are lots more changes, and you can find the full release notes on the official beamNG site. A lot of the changes are tweaks to particular vehicles, or to the physics of certain parts on particular vehicles, and sentences I fully do not understand like “Added odometer measurement to vehicle electrics.”

You can pick up BeamNG.drive from Steam, where it’s currently 20% off. Steve Hogarty revisited it for us last year and called it a “fascinating distraction to idle away a few hours, and a near perfect simulation of what was happening in my child-brain when I played with Matchbox cars.”

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