We Played Elden Ring in a Tesla Model S Poster

Tesla’s Model S Plaid allows access to a Steam account to play its games. If the feature is still in beta, we enjoyed launching Elden Ring on the beautiful screen of the 100% electric car.

Since late 2022, Tesla’s Model S and Model X allow access to Steam — new in the Christmas updatecorresponding to an old desire of Elon Musk. This is a logical development: the American company’s cars have been playing video games for years now (we have already been able to play Cuphead). Integrating Steam is the next step, in the sense that it allows you to offer hundreds of them at once from a single application. It also accompanies the increase in power of the two 100% electric vehicles, of which gaming performance is compared to Sony’s PlayStation 5 (about 10 teraflops of power).

Numerama was able to try the Model S Poster for a weekend, and we did not miss the opportunity to launch Steam, by simply filling in our credentials. We played in two titles: vampire survivors (it is quick to install) and Elden Ring (a good client to test power). We were generally won over by the feature, even if it is aptly named beta given the technical issues we encountered during our various tests.

The Steam application in a Tesla Model S Plaid // Source: Thomas Ancelle for Numerama

The Tesla Model S Plaid is a Steam Deck on Four Wheels (or $140,000)

What about storage?

The Tesla Model S Plaid offers 136.5 GB of storage (including 78.2 internal). It will be necessary to make sure to invest in an external solution to install a lot of games.

The first steps in the Steam version of the Model S Plaid are quite encouraging. We find the large icons and the layout of the interface of the Steam Deck, Valve’s portable console. And for good reason: it’s exactly the same, except for tabs and vocabularies. This leads to nonsense in the settings, when we are offered, for example, to format the SD card (you cannot insert an SD card in the car) or to manage the external screen (you cannot connect a screen external to the car). In short, if the ergonomic bases are there, it will take updates for this Steam version to be 100% designed for the Tesla ecosystem.

Especially since it raises a question for compatible games. As a reminder, the Steam Deck is not able to operate 100% of the catalog. Valve has a system in place to notify players of each game’s status — with macaroons. They are also found in the Tesla, yet much more powerful than Valve’s portable console and not at all affected by certain limits (example: the screen is much larger). In short, if a game is defined as unplayable on the Steam version of the car, try it anyway (you never know).

The Steam interface of the Model S Plaid is the same as that of the Steam Deck // Source: Thomas Ancelle for Numerama
The Steam interface of the Model S Plaid is the same as that of the Steam Deck // Source: Thomas Ancelle for Numerama

The lack of optimization is also felt in the performance within the application. Black screen, slowdowns in navigation (while everything is otherwise fluid), bug that restarts the car, controller that does not respond… This first version of Steam has to deal with technical inconveniences, which involve being indulgent with regard to of the promise. On the other hand, we will be a little less so with Tesla’s choice to bet on the controller DualSense for the accessory to recommend. It overlaps several control schemes: Sony keys in the interface, but Xbox ones in games. In a quest for universality and clarity, it was better to opt for Microsoft’s pad.

The Steam interface of the Tesla Model S Plaid // Source: Thomas Ancelle for Numerama
The Steam interface of the Tesla Model S Plaid // Source: Thomas Ancelle for Numerama

Elden Ring is really very beautiful in the Tesla

When we forget that Steam is still only at the beta stage, with all the inconveniences that entails, we have to recognize that the playing conditions are excellent. The praise is based on two strengths of the Model S Plaid.

  • The first concerns the magnificent screen. Play on a slab cinematographic 17 inches (2,200 x 1,300 pixels) offers undeniable comfort, with pretty colors on the program and sufficient brightness (this is important, since we play outside). Coupled with the sound system better than in many living rooms (22 speakers for 960 watts of power), it ensures the show and makes you want to extend your stop at a Supercharger (time flies when you play).
  • The other argument of the Model S Plaid is in the announced power. The 10 onboard teraflops allow the car to run Elden Ring with a graphic rendering and a fluidity at the height of the FromSoftware masterpiece. It will nevertheless be necessary to temper the presets a little, which tend to be too high by default. We recommend switching to “medium” to obtain a more consistent framerate (we observed a few drops), without any real sacrifice in graphic fidelity. Proof, in any case, that the benefits are there: we were able to beat the very first boss of the demanding RPG, with a character almost at the basic level. Whether Elden Ring turned out badly on the Tesla, we wouldn’t have succeeded — despite our immense talent.
We play Elden Ring in a Tesla Model S Plaid // Source: Thomas Ancelle for Numerama
We play Elden Ring in a Tesla Model S Plaid (and we die) // Source: Thomas Ancelle for Numerama

vampire survivors, he runs impeccably well. The opposite would have been surprising, since we are talking about a much less demanding game. Even when transforming into a superhero unleashing devastating powers on hundreds of enemies, the performance remains at a high level. On paper, we can therefore play everything in a Tesla Model S Plaid, knowing that we can buy games from the integrated store. Last good news: by using the same account as on your PC, you will find your backups in the cloud.


Help us build the future of Numerama by answering this survey!

We Played Elden Ring in a Tesla Model S Poster