American Truck Simulator is the latest installment in the Truck Simulator series from SCS Software, a Czech company that is well-known for its simulator games. Being a huge fan of Euro Truck Simulator 2, I must say that I was rather skeptical when I heard that American Truck Simulator was coming out. This was mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t really sure if the game would bring anything really different to the table, or if it would just be a reskin of Euro Truck Simulator 2, and if so, would it still be worth it?
For those that have no idea what this series is all about, it’s pretty simple, but I’ll go on ahead and explain it as best as I can, while also pointing out why I thoroughly enjoy this type of games. American Truck Simulator is pretty much what it says on the label, you play as a truck driver in the USA, and you’ll find yourself improving as a professional, thus climbing in your career ladder.
While at first, you’ll find yourself making deliveries by using your client’s own truck, once you have enough money to settle in, or if you decide to get a loan, you’ll be able to buy your own truck and start working on your own. Further down the road, once you have enough money, you’ll also be able to upgrade and purchase new garages, which will allow you to hire drivers to work for you, thus increasing your overall income. The game features tons of different cargo types that have a varying value of transportation, some are fragile, some are corrosive or explosive, things like that, and you’re sure to be compensated according to the type of cargo that you’re transporting.
As you complete jobs, you’ll gain experience points and level up your own driver, which will allow you to allocate skill points to specific abilities related to your career. First and foremost, you’ll be able to unlock new types of jobs with new types of cargo, extend the maximum distance of the jobs that you can take, increase the rewards of completing a job by a certain percentage, and also be making your trucks fuel more efficiently. Speaking of which, the management aspect is not only present in handling your garages and drivers, as you, personally, also have to keep an eye out for how much fuel you have left on the tank, and also when should you rest if you want to avoid falling asleep on the road. There are specific spots on the map, usually right beside the main roads, where you can obviously satisfy these needs, but it can be easy to forget about them sometimes.
Throughout your journeys, you’ll also discover new cities, companies, truck dealers, and hiring agencies, all of which expand the range of jobs, truck models, and drivers, that you can get. There are trucks with different chassis, horsepower, and other small details which may make you decide to go for one over the other, but even after you settle in with a truck, you can still customize it at the nearest mechanic. There are accessories for your cabin that you can buy, paint jobs, and even upgrades for the chassis, transmission, and engine, so even though you buy your own trucks, there is still a pretty reasonable amount of customization that you can do. Obviously, this also means that you need to keep an eye out on your truck’s condition, in case you bump into something while you’re in the road, which will most likely happen eventually.
The job system is pretty straightforward, with the game granting you three different types of jobs that you can take. There are the quick jobs, which are the ones that your client gives you their own truck, and you’ll start right in the place where the cargo is, and you only need to drive the cargo from there to the final destination. Then there is the “Freight Market”, which is where you can take jobs by using your own truck, which involves having to drive to the place where the cargo is, in case you’re not there. Finally, there are the “World Contracts”, which are these real-time jobs that you can take, and whose progress is tracked on World of Trucks, the SCS Software’s online tracking system where players can keep a record of their stuff. Still, every job that you can take can require you to transport very different things that will affect the way that your truck handles, like transporting a trailer with TVs, or moving a huge crane, or a bunch of lumber or pipes, pretty much all kinds of stuff that you could think that a truck actually does transport in real life.
Now, as far as driving goes, American Truck Simulator supports a wide range of ways that you can play, controller, steering wheel with pedals and H-shifter, mouse and keyboard, whatever you fancy, including VR. Personally, I’m not in a position where I can play the game in every single way that I’ve just enumerated, so all I can say is that the game plays perfectly fine with mouse and keyboard. There are multiple camera angles that you can use if you’re playing the game like I do, and it feels absolutely natural to move the camera around with the mouse while steering with the keys. On top of that, you can also customize your driving experience, in the sense that you can choose if you want to have an automatic gearbox, sequential, or, as mentioned previously, use an H-shifter.
Like the name of the game suggests, and also the huge array of controlling schemes that players can use, this is not an arcade driving game, it’s a simulator. Some people usually tend to avoid games where the driving is simulating reality, but, in this case, this is really the best way to do it, and I think it would be silly to miss on this game if you just happen to have that train of thought. Like in Euro Truck Simulator 2, the driving in American Truck Simulator is perfectly in line with how you have to handle different cargo types, maneuvering, and whatnot, and SCS Software has done a stellar job as far as how the actual driving feels in this game. The Euro Truck and American Truck Simulator series are, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most friendly simulator series out there, if not the most.
Despite all the great things that can be said about the game, there are a few things that irritate me, like when sometimes the AI doesn’t stop and just runs into me and I have to pay a fee for supposedly committing a crash offense. This usually happens when you’re moving through an intersection, changing lanes, or just making a turn, and the AI doesn’t seem to realize what your intentions are. Also, I’ve seen a lot of people saying that these games look bad and perform poorly given how they look, but I personally think that the game doesn’t look bad at all. The game looks reasonably well, clearly, it’s not up to most games that have been released this year, but given how old the Prism3D engine is I’d say that the game still holds strong, but it’s impossible to deny that the engine does start to show its age.
One of the biggest features of American Truck Simulator is certainly the big wide open map, even though you’re still confined within certain limits, as you might come across roads which are simply blocked by a series of holograms that delimit an invisible wall. Nonetheless, contrary to Euro Truck Simulator 2, in ATS you’ll be driving through a lot more barren lands, and you’ll see plenty of desert. Still, I guess this does simulate the lives of real truckers that work in these States that are covered in American Truck Simulator. There are plenty of jobs where you’ll find yourself driving for more than 20 minutes on the same road, without seeing pretty much anything interesting. Personally, I find these moments perfect to put on my favorite music and listen to it while playing the game. Still, I’d be lying if I said that this is all you see, as there are plenty of landmarks that I’m sure a lot of people will recognize in the various States that you can travel to, like Yosemite’s National Park and the Grand Canyon, and obviously cities are pretty much real-life depictions on a smaller scale.
With that said, American Truck Simulator is pretty much ETS 2 but in the USA, which I’m sure interests a lot of people, even though others couldn’t really care less and are just as happy to play Euro Truck Simulator 2. With that in mind, you’re obviously going to enjoy American Truck Simulator if you’ve enjoyed Euro Truck Simulator 2, and those that didn’t find any worth in playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 will most likely find nothing here as well. Notwithstanding, it’s also worth pointing out that, much like its predecessor, American Truck Simulator features a vast amount of mods that you can find thanks to the Steam Workshop integration. You can add new maps, change the sound effects, add new cars, change the companies’ logos, and plenty of other things that will probably surprise.
At the end of the day, American Truck Simulator is an excellent game on its own, which will surely please fans of simulator games, Euro Truck Simulator 2 players, or just fans of truck simulators in general. Although, this goes without saying that, if you’re bored of Euro Truck Simulator 2, this might be a worthwhile addition to your collection, even though the gameplay mechanics are exactly the same, what changes is pretty much just the scenery, which for some people will not be enough, while for others it is a very much-needed change. As for me, I highly recommend it, I find myself alternating between this and Euro Truck Simulator 2, and no matter which one I’m playing, I’m still enjoying every second of it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.