I personally think there are optimization tricks for games like Motherload like:
-Fake physics since only the vehicles seems to be physical
-Only blocks with one empty block near them have physics activated because otherwise no one will know them they have physics or not anyway!
-When digging disable physics and collision for the block and make the vehicle do a fixed move like "go 1 block height down in 1 second" so there are no continuous physical collision.
-Blocks that are not in scene do not exist and only are created when they have distance of 1 block from the scene borders, and removed when distance is more than 1 block from scene borders.
I wish you success