Nitrous engine demo shows off next-gen space battle

Thousands of space ships zipping around, swooping, swarming, blowing the heck out of each other--that's what I'd like to see in a 'next-generation' space game. Oxide Games is teasing this possibility with Star Swarm, a tech demo created to show off its game engine for PC, Xbox One and PS4, Nitrous. Stardock has invested in Oxide, and is already using Nitrous for three games.

The demo sees thousands of ships in battle, with AI picking targets and firing off scores of physics-simulated blasts. Each ship's turrets even tracks their target. It's made to take advantage of multiple CPU cores, and also supports AMD's Mantle technology to boost performance.

For now, the demo's only viewable in video and screenshot form, but Oxide plans to release a downloadable demo "soon" through Steam, so you can run it yourself.

The Star Swarm demo shows off "what [Nitrous] means for the future of strategy games," Oxide said in yesterday's announcement. It boasted, "Nitrous is capable of simulating and rendering large-scale, complex scenes never before seen in games, which opens doors to entirely new types of experiences that simply weren't possible before."

The only game confirmed to be using Nitrous so far is Civilization IV lead designer Soren Johnson's mysterious project codenamed 'Mars,' in development at his new Stardock-backed studio Mohawk Games. Stardock's Galactic Civilization III is using a different engine.