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Hands on the wheel with Tesla's new in-car racing video game

Race in your car. Race in your car. Image: tesla By Sasha Lekach2019-06-18 22:15:42 UTC

Why not play a game while sitting and waiting for your electric vehicle to charge up? No, not on your phone. That'd be too easy. Instead, you can now use the very car you're sitting in — well, if it's a Tesla.

Tesla's Easter egg drawer full of video games housed in the main touchscreen is bursting with new additions, including a kart racing game from Vector Unit made just for Tesla. A new bottom menu on the main screen now includes an Arcade button for direct access to the games menu. Beach Buggy Racing 2's Tesla Edition takes drivers on 22 beach-themed tracks. The new game is rolling out to Tesla Model S, X, and 3 owners this week.

Made for Tesla.

Made for Tesla.

Image: sasha Lekach / Mashable

Ready, Player One?

Ready, Player One?

Image: sasha Lekach / mashable

The steering wheel in front of you becomes the control and so does the brake pedal— but don't worry, the car is parked and you're not going anywhere. You can play on your own or with a split-screen two-player mode with whomever's in the passenger seat using the on-screen controls while you take the wheel. Your virtual beach buggy — a cartoon version of the Tesla you're sitting in — auto-accelerates, so you're just using the wheel and the brakes, or you can go all touchscreen and play with your fingers. 

As soon as the car is on, you can't play the games, so no real-life racing through the game is possible. Kids who want to play in the front seat are supposed to be supervised. They can always play on the touch screen from the passenger seat.

I took a Tesla Model 3 for a "spin" on a tropical track (we were parked across the street from my San Francisco office) on the "chill" difficulty level. There's also performance and ludicrous mode to pull in some Tesla lingo, for the true fans. I selected the Beach Bro character in a blue Hawaiian print shirt and proceeded to come in last place twice, but I was laughing the whole time. There are more than 40 different power-ups that I didn't even mess with.

So many Tesla-themed Easter eggs within Beach Buggy 2 video game #Tesla edition: a Starman character, Red Planet track with a bio-dome, and even ludicrous difficulty level. pic.twitter.com/inrRu2WtP5

— Sasha Lekach (@sashajol) June 18, 2019

Tesla inside jokes and jargon are sprinkled throughout the game — like one of the driver characters and levels. For drivers in Model S and X vehicles, the screen is aligned vertically, so the game sits at the top of the screen instead of being stretched out. 

Last week at the E3 gaming conference in Los Angeles, Musk announced the new racing game along with Fallout Shelter coming to the Tesla Arcade. Also coming to parked cars: Netflix and YouTube to stream videos through a WiFi connection. "It's pretty cool to go to the car screen and play some fun games," Musk said.

The latest game is an entertaining way to spend 15 to 30 minutes while hanging out at a Tesla Supercharging station and taking advantage of the car's steering wheel. You do move the wheels in real life when you move the steering wheel, but there's a setting for steering wheel sensitivity if you're trying to minimize tire movement. 

Once you've updated the Tesla, the game is loaded into the car, so you don't need a connection to play it. It also uses minimal battery power, so you won't drain your car while waiting to pick someone up or anything. 

You can use the steering wheel or on-screen controls.

You can use the steering wheel or on-screen controls.

Image: sasha lekach / mashable 

Ralf Knoesel, technical director at Vector Unit, explained how the game developers custom-built the game for the first ever in-car infotainment center and how Beach Buggy 2 is "laying the framework for future games" in Tesla cars. He also crushed me in two-player mode, easily sliding into first place. 

If you don't have a Tesla vehicle, the company is offering its Arcade experience in cars at its showrooms through the end of the month. Guess those Tesla stores aren't as pointless with that in ind, even with most Tesla sales online now.

Charging up or waiting in the car just got way more fun.

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