Since its hurried release on Early Access last year in time for Christmas, it's fair to say I've been thoroughly enjoying BugBear's Next Car Game, a spiritual successor to FlatOut with hands-down the most impressive damage modelling in a racing game to date. Its initial release felt rather light on content however, with only a handful of tracks and cars available to race and destroy.
Granted, the whole point of Early Access is to provide players with the barebones shell of a game before adding more content in the run-up to the final release, but whereas Kunos Simulazioni has continually updated Assetto Corsa every fortnight with trickles of new content to play with, BugBear's Next Car Game has remained stagnant. Fortunately, this latest update rectifies this, adding a host of new content along with some notable gameplay improvements.
By far the most significant addition is a new figure of 8 track modified from the current demolition derby arena, arguably the staple track in demolition derby. A demolition derby figure of 8 track was recently re-introduced in Grid 2, but Next Car Game cranks up the carnage to the next level – with 24 cars trading paint in such a confined space, things get chaotic, to say the least. And that's before you've attempted to scrape through the crossroads in one piece.
A new car has also added in the form of a typical '80s American sedan, which joins the nippy European supermini and American muscle car. It's a lot heavier than the previous cars available, so expect it to understeer around corners. But while it may not handle as well, it certainly makes for an effective battering ram when it comes to fending off your opponents. Unsurprisingly, it withstands damage well, too, so it can give as good as it gets.
Other new features include a new cinematic camera option allowing you to take screenshots (unfortunately there isn't a dedicated screenshot capture button yet so you'll have to use an external application such as Fraps for now), new time of day changes (no configurable options yet, sadly, but the time of day is randomly selected for each race), new car upgrade parts, more race customisation options, a new external chase camera, numerous graphical enhancements to existing tracks and rotatable wheels when using the cockpit camera.
A pretty sizable update, then. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come in what has been a tremendous success story for BugBear so far.
We'll have a gameplay video looking at the new car and figure of 8 track shortly. Until then, here's a list of all the changes included in the new update:
- New Figure 8 derby race event.
- All race tracks now have a reverse layout as well.
- Lap and AI counts are now fully customizable for each event.
- Tarmac track: start area rehauled, tarmac textures reworked, last sector redecorated.
- Gravel track: textures reworked, track surface visuals updated.
- New birches for both tarmac and gravel track.
- General polishing and bug fixing.
A random weather is selected to an event at startup.
Dynamic environment objects:
- Tire stacks now have more weight to them for added realism.
- Reduced concrete barrier friction to prevent the car from spinning.
Vehicles & upgrading:
- New car: American Sedan (no high detail dashboard yet).
- Steering wheels now rotate in cockpit camera.
- Texture/model improvements and bug fixes.
- Increased European hatchback engine power.
- Reworked European hatchback handling.
- New engine backfire effect.
- Improved differential simulation.
- New gearbox, drivetrain, suspension and brake upgrade parts.
- New paint jobs for cars to choose from.
- Driving model improvements.
- Assists now have three levels of strength: 'Off', 'Half' and 'Full', with 'Off' and 'Half' being the same as earlier 'Off' and 'On' and 'Full' offering an even more assisted driving experience.
- New screenshot camera mode with zoom factor and yaw, pitch and roll parameters, designed for taking screenshots with free camera and hidden HUD. In the screenshot mode, it's possible to rotate the camera as well as adjust the field-of-view, and by accessing Effect Mode, you can adjust the Depth-of-Field (DOF) parameters to your liking. There's no dedicated button for taking a screenshot yet, so you need to use an external application or PrintScreen button.
- Brought back spherical camera from the technology demo, it's available only in camera mode at least for now.
- Implemented another chase camera further back according to the feedback.
- Tweaked European hatchback chase camera.
- Fixed engine component damage calculation in HUD.
- Removed red damage direction indicators from HUD based on a general request.
- Fixed an issue with gameplay damage not being calculated correctly when near death.
- Further balancing of gameplay damage and visual damage – a completely reworked system will be introduced in the future.
- Reworked many textures.
- Added some nice decorative elements.
- Tweaked interior and yard decoration.
- Tweaked lighting.
- Derby AI: tactical reverse mode now considers engine location more efficiently.
- Removed speed sensitive steering when using a steering wheel.
- Implemented further balancing tweaks to AI profiles and handling.
- Implemented start position randomization (for player as well).
- Binding the Logitech G27 button 7 etc. will no longer result in exiting the settings menu.
- Loading screen will now show a background based on the event you're playing.
- Game is now paused and input suspended while Steam overlay is active.
- DirectInput gamepads should now work and are also remappable.
- Improved controller settings to reduce steering lag.
- Fixed a bug where VSync was not able to recover back to 60 fps when temporarily dipping to 30 fps.
- Engine damage sound effect is now linked to actual engine damage instead of car health.