hands-on: realistic driving and glorious crashes


Cars are hard. BeamNG.Drive may have just crashed onto Steam Early Access this week, but I don't get the feeling that the driving will get any easier. It's not that the controls are bad, it's actually the exact opposite. BeamNG.Drive probably has the most realistic driving of any car-based game I've played, so when I tried to play it like a videogame, things went predictably poor. Watch the video above to see how poor.

I could noticeably feel the difference between heavy cars and light cars, between a stock engine and a souped up one. I was confused why driving over simple speed bumps would tear my car to pieces, until I realized I was trying to drive over them at 60+ MPH—a feat completely achievable in a game like Grand Theft Auto 5, but near suicide in the real world. It took some time for me to adjust to how the game wanted me to play, but once I did I found there was actually a deeper level of control over what I could make the cars do. Nothing felt unintentional or unexpected about the driving, just very precise with a high learning curve

Fair warning though: while BeamNG.Drive is currently a fun sandbox game, it is definitely an Early Access game. There are only a handful of levels, no form of progression, only a couple of sparse game modes, and a whole suite of other missing features. The sound is particularly lacking, as there isn't any music, and the car sound effects are clearly placeholders. There is enjoyment to be had here and the softbody collisions can be really incredible to watch, but don't go into BeamNG.Drive expecting a finished game, as its Steam page says it is at least 12 months from being feature complete.

But if you already have BeamNG.Drive in Early Access, share pictures of your most glorious crashes in the comments below.

Grand Theft Auto 5 gameplay: max settings at 60 fps

A year and a half after its initial launch, Grand Theft Auto 5 has finally arrived on PC with what is supposed to be the most polished and optimized version to date. To test out just how good it could look, we decided to run it on a rig with an Intel i7-5960x CPU, 32GB of RAM, and two (that’s right, two) overclocked Nvidia GTX Titan Xs. We cranked all the settings to max at 1440p (the video is at 1080p, as YouTube won't play in 60 fps above that resolution anyway), and took a drive around Los Santos to see what it had to offer. Watch the video above to see how it turned out.

Though Grand Theft Auto 5 is very well optimized, it didn’t run quite as nicely on max settings while recording with Nvidia ShadowPlay as I had hoped. At high settings, the game ran buttery smooth and was consistently staying above 100fps, but maxing everything out—and especially trying to do so at 4K resolution—resulted in some pretty inconsistent framerates. 60fps at 4K and max settings was achievable, but not in every part of Los Santos.

For example, the downtown area ran much faster than anything in the northern part of the map, Blaine County. Indeed, most parts of the map with long sight lines suffered, including the beach and the freeways heading north. Additionally, I saw noticeably slower frame rates during the day than at night, most likely because of the need for increased draw distance and shadows. What surprised me most about the differences between these areas and times of day was just how much the framerate changed. At 1440p, I could easily hit 120fps in the city only to drop to 40fps as I drove toward Blaine.

The average player probably won’t notice these issues, because GTA 5 is truly a well optimized game (the crashes and other problems some are experiencing aside)—as I mention in the boxout to the side, recording while playing was the primary reason I had framerate troubles at all.

Assassin's Creed: Rogue gameplay: max settings at 60 fps on LPC


Wonder how good a "last-gen" game can look when it's maxed out on PC? The answer is pretty much what you'd expect. It's not that Rogue looks bad, but clunky animations and texture pop-ins make its older target hardware very evident. Overall, it's a lovely game while you run around killing people , but its visual flaws are apparent in the context of a brand new, big budget PC game. Watch the video above to see for yourself. 

A quick note: the gameplay was recorded at 1440p, but unfortunately we encountered an error while exporting that wouldn't allow it to export at full-res. Still, the game ran at a smooth 60fps that you can enjoy at 1080p.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — max settings at 60 FPS


Worried The Witcher 3 might have received a graphical "downgrade" on PC? We decided to put it to the test by cranking all the settings to the max and recording at a glorious 60 FPS. The rig we used had no trouble staying at roughly an average of 64 frames per second while recording, only dipping to the mid-to-low 50s in areas with lots of foliage and trees—though, to be fair, that rig does have 32GB of RAM and two GTX Titan Xs. Watch the video above to see just how good The Witcher 3 can look.

As always, be sure to remember that our average frame rate was negatively impacted by our need to record while we play. As I explained in our GTA 5 max settings video, recording can be very taxing on a machine, even with Nvidia's relatively low impact Shadowplay program. On my home rig, which has 8GB of RAM and a GTX 760, I was hitting an average of 38 FPS on medium settings without recording. Had I been recording, that number would be unlikely to ever hit 30 FPS.