American Truck Simulator continues on from SCS Software’s impressive Euro Truck Simulator 2. Expanding logistics from Europe to the USA. Both simulators capture the world of hauling cargo wonderfully.
The American culture really does stand out from the moment you hit the roads in California with those glaring billboards and signs. The noticeable difference compared to ETS 2 is the heat. The weather is hot with an abundance of sunshine compared to the rather sedated and colder European alternative. The available iconic big rigs from companies such as Kenworth and Peterbilt are a lot different to the lorries available in Europe with longer front bonnets rather than the flat faced lorries found in Europe.
Roads, Scenery and Weather
Road surfaces change depending on the location from tarmac to gravel with a variety of obstacles to traverse such as level crossings, traffic lights, bridges, tunnels and roadworks. The scenery is breathtaking as you journey through the various states from sunny California to the Nevada desert and the Grand Canyon of Arizona.
With dynamic weather the journey can change throughout a route from sunshine, cloudy sky’s, lighting storms and breathtaking sunsets and sunrises. Night-time adds to the challenge with the limited field of view forcing drivers to rely heavily on the trucks lighting. Drivers have various light-beam settings at their disposal as well as a fully working wind-screen wiper functionality.
American Truck Simulator truly shines with the gameplay features and driving experience. There is so much functionality within the simulator and it’s very user friendly. Upon starting out as a driver a selection of avatars are available to choose your preferred depiction on the main game page. With no funds available at the start the only option is to drive as an agency worker for various companies. This is beneficial as it provides the opportunity to drive different trucks from a variety of manufacturers. The driver is also not constrained by a last arrival location as would be the case when driving your own vehicle. There’s plenty of freedom as an agency worker though the larger financial rewards are found as a be your own boss.
Bank loans can be used to speed up the ability to fund a new truck of your own. Discovered towns can reveal hidden services such as recruitment agencies and truck dealerships. To purchase a truck those dealerships are required to be discovered and visited during opening hours. Trucks are able to be customized from mirrors to wheel rims and interior accessories. Paint jobs can be purchased and as the driver ranks up more powerful engine, transmission and other upgrades become available.
The leveling up process allows the driver to choose a single area to unlock each time an XP target is reached from longer delivery routes to the ability to transport hazardous materials. Heavy goods require an upgraded and optimized truck to have the pulling power to deliver those loads. Map detail is enhanced when zooming in to reveal gas stations, rest stops, repair garages and other useful criteria. Choosing jobs can be narrowed down to your current location or any other location by clicking the marker on the map. This is a really useful feature whilst there is also a filter available to further narrow down the job search to fragile, urgent, heavy loads ect.
The management aspect to American Truck Simulator really draws players into feeling as though this is a real world. It’s an immersive experience with the requirement to fill up fuel at gas stations and deciding on when to go to rest stops along with fixing mechanical issues ect. There’s always something to contend with and decide on throughout a job. Sleeping tends to change the day to night and vice-versa depending on the time the rest was activated. It’s imperative that the driver does facilitate rests at appropriate times otherwise the screen goes dark sporadically as the driver yawns in and out of consciousness. For short deliveries with a tired driver its best to fit in that nap before accepting the offer to prevent a mediocre report. On a long journey a rest is expected such is the vast distance and time required to travel.
Within the gameplay settings menu their is a plethora of options available to set and tweak to your own personal satisfaction such as increasing: traffic density, rain likeliness, roadside incidents. The controls and graphics options also have an abundance of options to tweak and dial in.
The real highlight of the game is the sat-nav, the on screen version has so many useful features built in such as distance remaining, fuel meter, tiredness state among many other things including road-side recovery. The on screen device can be reduced in stages or removed completely whereby the built in sat-nav of the truck can be used instead. Whilst it looks more realistic to remove the on screen version it isn’t practical. There are too many important features built-in which warrant keeping it. Mirror captures can be placed either side of the screen for uninterrupted driving. The actual dashboard of the truck is fully operational. It’s visibly possible to drive using just the dashboard to monitor speed, fuel and revs.
Engine sounds and mechanical noise such as gears crunching from miss-shifting are noticeable as well as brake-pressure when applying and disengaging the brakes. Rain is also audible as it hits the truck. The trucks horn is fully operational however other road users don’t seem to use there horns as they simply choose to flash their lights. Police sirens do ring when cautioning for speeding. The negative to date is that there are no wildlife sounds available such as birds chirping though this is the case in a lot of games. (Have a look at Train Sim World – West Somerset Railway Add-on for wildlife sounds done perfectly).
Editing and mapping controls is easily done without any complication, allowing for a very comfortable and intuative driving experience when using a wheel. Personally I have tried testing with a controller however I had a difficult time enjoying the ride as it was too twitchy for me though there are many gamers happily enjoying American Truck Simulator with a controller. For me it’s a personal preference to use a wheel and peddle set. The Logitech G920 has been incredible especially with the add-on shifter and it should be noted the cheaper and older Logitech Driving Force GT was perfectly fine too as wheel support is very good with SCS Software titles including the ability to map hotkeys to wheel buttons.
To date, since the release of American Truck Simulator there have been two major area expansions to the world map and a re-scaling of the road network from 1:35 to 1:20 to make the map larger. Arizona to the east of California is available FREE to all owners of American Truck Simulator to compliment the already available California and Nevada states. In November 2017 the map went further east with the release of New Mexico which launched as a paid content. It has been announced that Oregon will be the next expansion which is north of California and Nevada along the pacific north-west. Oregon is known for its diverse landscape of forests, mountains, farms and beaches and there will be opportunities to collect cargo from logging companies.
The vast array of cargo available is impressive even more so with the ‘Heavy Cargo DLC’. Weight has a bearing on the trucks performance, heavy loads reduce the trucks ability to drive along at speed whilst light loads can be delivered unhindered. The real challenge with the varying cargo is the trailer length and width. Wide cargo and long cargo require more room on the roads to turn and navigate. It’s easy to get caught out in tight spaces with heavy traffic. This requires some quality driving and challenges the skills of even the best drivers. Cargo can range from car transporting and tractors to trailers containing fertilizer and building materials.
Personally I’d like to see a few more vehicles on the road and would especially welcome other trucks collecting and delivering cargo. There’s never a queue or other trucks operating at drop off locations. It feels as though you are the only delivery driver in the world even though there are many trucks travelling along the roads throughout the journeys.
This simulator is built with a wheel and peddle set in mind. The controls, force-feedback and responsiveness is perfect which a lot of other driving simulators aspire to replicate. Adding a H-Shifter and clutch takes American Truck Simulator to a whole new level. Whilst the auto clutch has a slight delay with the gear changes, manual clutch provides immediate response with unmatched performance for a seamless transition. Though poor gear changes are punished with a grinding noise and refusal to set into gear which will reduce performance.
American Truck Simulator
Everything that was great about Euro Truck Simulator 2 has been implemented into American Truck Simulator with perfection which provides an easy crossover for existing players. Traversing across the varying states of the USA is a breath of fresh air and rewarding alternative to Europe. Both games complement each other, neither makes the other obsolete. American Truck Simulator is an impressive simulator allowing would be truckers to haul cargo in iconic big rigs. The game continues to be updated with improvements to the map scaling, optimization, expansions and cargo content. American Truck Simulator is a game not to be missed and should be in every simulator hobbiests game collection.
Fascinated with gaming since the old cassette based computers. Custom-building and repairing computers for 20 years and have been creating websites for 5 years. I’ve been a geek way before it became fashionable. Video game collector and gamer. Mainly a PC gamer though do enjoy console exclusives. Created Zorf Gaming to share my passion for gaming. I’m the web-designer/developer, content creator, editor, video creator. In essence this is my passion and I like nothing more than to share it with you. Currently writing my first book ‘A Father’s Daughter’.