It's been a long while since we were last treated to an update for Next Car Game on Steam Early Access, but BugBear has now lifted the bonnet on the long-awaited latest build, and it's a pretty substantial update.
The reason for the long wait is that BugBear has been hard at work on a new engine in preparation for some of the features planned for the future: "In its old iteration, we weren’t sure that the engine could handle all the features we want to include in the game, so, to play it safe, we took the long route and fixed the engine," BugBear explain in a developer blog. "In essence, we tore it apart. We cut off clumsy clusters of code, with each cut paving way for a more streamlined and more robust iteration of the engine. It was a lot of work."
While the engine isn't quite finished yet and is therefore prone to crashes in the latest build, the upshot is that the game will run more smoothly than before when it's complete. It will also power a more sophisticated damage model (if that was ever possible), an early version of which has been implemented in the latest build which is apparently now based on tracking deform instead of impacts.
There's plenty of improvements under the bonnet, then, including further refinements to the graphics and physics. But there's plenty of additional new content to enjoy, too.
First and foremost is the addition of a new American muscle car , which appears to resemble a Buick Skylark. It's a bit of a brute to handle, but its savage power more than makes up for it. More cars are promised later down the line, so hopefully we'll start to see some more European-inspired cars thrown into the mix in keeping with BugBear's Finnish heritage.
A new work-in-progress Sandpit track has also been added. It's far from finished, however – BugBear stress that it is an "early prototype," so don't be alarmed by the myriad of unfinished textures and lack of graphical bells and whistles. What is significant about this track, however, is that it's the test-bed for BugBear's experimentation with surface "noise," which affects the handling. In other words, the surface noise simulates the uneven surface of the track, and the suspension of the car will now react accordingly. Force feedback wheel-users will likely notice the nuances the most.
You can see both the new car and track in action in Alan's first look video:
Last but certainly not least, the new build adds LAN support for up to 12 players in response to fan requests. It may not be a fully fledged online multiplayer, but it's still an early taste of some of the frenzied multiplayer carnage we can hopefully expect in the final game.