Have You Played… BeamNG.drive?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

BeamNG.drive [official site] has the best crumple-car physics of any game ever.

Where most games use rigid-body physics and pre-defined damage areas to create the impression of a car being beaten up, BeamNG.drive uses soft-body physics for each individual part of a car. This makes crashes spectacular to watch, as metal twists and bend and dozens of small parts are scattered across the road.

I’ve spent many happy hours downloading user-created cars and setting them up in the in-game editor so I can watch them smash into one another. You can do things like download a recreation of the long highway from that shitty Matrix sequel, set a truck driving in one direction and three cars driving in the other, and then drop into slow motion to watch the disaster unfold.

Also it has races, I guess. They’re pretty good, too – the same physics engine gives the cars an appealing weight as you throw them around corners on dirty country roads or race tracks. The game’s still in early access, but I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone even in its current state.


  1. noiseferatu says:

    I haven’t played it, but I’ve experienced it via the fantastic Car Boys youtube series which I would recommend to absolutely anybody link to youtube.com

    • laiwm says:

      Scrolled down just to check that someone had already made this comment. It takes a few episodes for the narrative to develop but it becomes something quite strange & wonderful by the end.

    • caff says:

      Yes! You should totally watch this first. It’s hilarious and genius.

  2. UncleLou says:

    It’s very cool, but when I last tried it ages ago, it was a spectacular feature in search of a game.

    This needs to be implemented in, say, GTA, or Burnout, or that Burnout spin-off, It might be too resource-hungry to have it just as a feature in a bigger game, though?

  3. poliovaccine says:

    Interesting, I’m not into racing games but I *am* into physics games or even just physics sandboxes. So I wonder how I’d like it.

    Interesting, too, about the car damage physics, mainly because it makes me realize the last time I can remember seeing car damage modeling done like that was the original Mafia… did Mafia II have that as well? I forget. Either way, it strikes me as surprisingly uncommon. Cant see why either, cus to me it looks more impressive and feels more satisfying than the more common alternative.

    If it really is such an uncommon technique, though… why? Why, if it’s so crunchy and juicy and amusing to play around with? Is it especially resource-hungry or something? Cus I would think it’d actually be the opposite, at least if the resource in question is “development time,” tho I’m just a layman speculating there. Or is it just a matter of industry-wide habit? I mean, if it werent for Mafia, I’d think this game invented it.

    • laiwm says:

      The modern GTA titles have pretty good car crunching, but it is rare in games. It must add so much complexity to the dev process that it’s not worth it for most games, as you have to make sure that every system in the game that touches a car can also deal with a car in any state of messed-upness. So vehicle handling, the dynamic cover system, AI drivers & pedestrians and whatever else can interact with a car has to have that tolerance built in, then tested intensively. Also that the car will still look relatively sane even at its most damaged (see the above mentioned Car Boys for examples of what happens when you damage a car past the point where the engine can render it).

    • DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Wreckest (aka Next Car Game) has some really good crash physics. It’s been in early access for a while now but they just dropped a big update a few weeks ago.

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      I believe car damage limitations are largely in part due to car manufacturers not wanting their cars to be destroyed that way in games. All the games that feature some form of proper damage modelling (Beam.ng, burnout, gta, wreckfest etc.) all use imaginary cars, none of them are licensed.

      Games like PCars, Gran Turismo, NFS and Forza all have to comply with the manufacturers requests/demands (I believe this is a related reason to why Ferrari’s were not in video games for quite some time, though I could be mistaken).

  4. Kiena says:

    I ended up buying it because of Car Boys (referenced above), and absolutely don’t regret it. I don’t play it for long chunks of time – 30 min here and there – but it’s tons of fun, and gives a strong sense of satisfaction when you mess up a car through some sort of elaborate setup. It’s a bit like what I imagined when playing with toy cars as a child, crashing them into each other and pretending they’d explode.

    There’s not much game there, it’s mostly just simulation stuff, but it’s incredibly fun and surprisingly complex, with lots and lots of options of ways to mess with your cars. And the modding community is terrific.

  5. 4004 says:

    It might not be much of a game (yet), but it’s so fun to watch/toy around with. For someone that’s been crashing toy cars since early childhood, this is good stuff