Updated: January 9, 2024
It is time to continue my moving away from Windows saga. Approximately two years ago, I decided that I did not want to partake anymore in the low IQ adfest that seems to be the future of the Windows desktop, and slowly, carefully, systematically, I began my migration to Linux. I got myself a beefy laptop, put Linux on it, and began testing anything and everything, including, primarily, various Windows-only games.
So far, the journey has been going great. Phenomenally so. I am more or less ready, a good two years before the expected Windows 10 EOL - not that it means one must stop using Windows 10 this very second. But I was able to accomplish all of my tests so far, and quite successfully, too. The biggest positive surprise? The gaming experience. This one is going waaaaay better than expected. With the magic of Steam Proton, I've been able to play pretty much all and any game I tried. But there are still a handful of titles I must try, including a number of crucial racing and driving simulators. All right, on today's menu, BeamNG.drive, a soft physics vehicle simulation game. Let us begin, then.
I did what I did a dozen times before. I simply clicked Install. Proton is configured for all game times in my catalog, so I just let Steam handle it. First, there was the usual download, some 15 GB worth of data, plus a Linux runtime or two.
When I clicked Launch, Steam began to compile Vulkan shaders. This process took a long time. Roughly 35 minutes, and during that time, my CPU load was a good steady 30-35. For a moment, I thought this might not work out well, but then, the game started just fine.
Game performance, results
BeamNG.drive ran just as well on the Kubuntu 22.04 + Steam as it does on Windows. In fact, if you look under Performance (in game), the game thinks it's running in Windows 10 with DX11 and all. Now, the title is still badly optimized regardless, and it takes forever to launch scenarios, the detail render is slow, and happens piece by piece, modern processor and NVMe storage notwithstanding. However, remember, this is no different from the native Windows behavior.
But then, you get all the fun you need. Just as I remarked in my original game review and the subsequent guide on police car chases, it's all there. The distinct car dynamics of each and every model. The engine sound. Sirens. Horns. Screeching brakes. The crazy collisions and damage.
I noticed that BeamNG wants to process shaders every single launch. Not sure why, but you can skip the operation. I did let it run and complete fully the very first time, but on subsequent launches, I wasn't in the mood to wait some half an hour to play, so I skipped the compilation. I cannot say I've observed any detrimental effect. Yet.
The game did crash once - just once. The error code indicates BeamNG could not find the user path. Not sure why or how, but this problem happened mid-game, when I took a screenshot of the game action with Steam's F12 button. Hopefully, it won't happen again - and hasn't in roughly half a dozen launches since.
Now, I have not yet tested this. But do I have a G27 wheel + pedals set, and it would be great to see whether this works well. Not only for BeamNG, but also, perhaps even more importantly, for Assetto Corsa. However, I shall leave this for a separate article. So stay tuned for this one.
There you go. BeamNG works in Linux. I'd say 99%, steering wheel excluded (for the moment). I did encounter two small "issues", one being the constant processing of Vulkan shaders, and the second a real crash. Other than that, the game performance was top-notch. The behavior is identical to the Windows host, including the actual on-screen frames per second and all that. Everything worked as it should.
I am very happy with my progress. And immensely grateful for the divine work the Proton folks are doing in making Linux gaming finally, after so many years, a true, tangible reality. We're not talking a subpar, secondary experience. We're talking Windows-comparable results in every aspect. This is spectacular, and now BeamNG joins my ever-growing list of playable titles. Groovy, babe. Well, see you around. I owe you the steering wheel findings, and of course, a whole lot of extra testing with the rest of my games. See ya soon.