Space Engineers overhauls visuals, wheels, and sound


The best thing about video games, experts agree, is particle effects that spray, ping, spang, billow, and zbloom all over the place. Crafty space sandbox Space Engineers has recognised this in its latest big early access update, adding a new particle system which showers sparks, glimmers, and clouds all over the place. As it right and good. The update also spruces up the game’s looks overall, making it simultaneously fancier and closer to its bold and blocky original look. The update also brings a new physics system for wheels, making spacecars less likely to freak out or flip while you’re admiring the particle effects they kick up.

Keen Software House’s Marek Rosa details everything about Friday’s update in a blog post but let’s look at some highlights.

First, pictures. A new particle engine runs on the GPU rather than the CPU, which Keen say means they can have more and fancier particles without harming performance. A load of new particle effects are in too, for everything from explosions to thrusters. The colour palette is more saturated, closer to the look of the game in its early days. Character animations are improved, including new landing animations. A new voxel engine borrowed from Keen’s own Medieval Engineers loads and runs faster. Tone mapping, bloom, ambient occlusion, and other effects make lighting and scenes more dramatic. And a few (optional) “cinematic” effects are in, like lens camera dirt and chromatic aberration. In short: pretty things and technical words.

As for wheeled vehicles, Rosa says the new physics should make them “be strong, robust and endure more”. They should suck less.

Sounds are reworked too, with a mixture of extra sounds and rebalanced levels intended to make things feel heavier and more real. Oh, and a ‘realistic mode’ option makes sound more like actual space – very quiet. Rosa explains:

“Sound waves travel only where there’s a physical connection between a sound source and a listener. The medium can be either the atmosphere or a solid object, and influences how you hear the sound: clearly or muffled / low-passed (through vibrations). The game simulates this property. The end result is that you won’t hear an explosion of a ship nearby if you are not standing on it. However, you will hear a muffled explosion and cracking of your ship if you are standing on its surface.”


All of this sounds good? Good stuff. Space Engineers has been solid to play for yonks but this sounds like good polishing. While there’s still no word on when Space Engineers will be ‘finished’ and launch properly, it did recently enter beta status, whatever that means these days, and seems to be starting to finish up.


  1. automatic says:

    “Freak out” physics is a good description for this game’s mechanics. Picture LEGO meets Mosh Pit Simulator.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    This game is fun but lacks anything like a purpose or endgame. I decided mine was to take off from mars and land on earth, and it worked for some value of ‘landing’.

    But in any case, it’s enjoyable if you like resource mining and making wonky space ships.

    • automatic says:

      It’s the same as any sandbox. SE is a good sandbox it just doesn’t work if you build anything more complex than a single chunk of blocks. Everything that is built with 2 or more grids in a single object seems bound to an eventual epileptic crisis. That means anything with parts that spins, folds or extends. Game is glitchy since day 1 and devs keep focusing on stuff to make it look good on the shelves instead of fixing it.

  3. Danarchist says:

    A few of the guys I play Empyrion with on the regular decided we should convert our game server to space engineers for a couple months to try it out. We lasted for a solid week of effort. Empy is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we simply had more fun playing it. Even though after a couple hundred hours each we are growing a tad bored with it.
    I do not think it is a bad game, I just think the learning curve is far too steep and it is a bit too grindy to suit us.
    We are now “vacationing” in 7 days to die instead.

  4. Amantium says:

    Experts would not agree, A game that doesn’t run like a potatoe is what makes a good game.