When I was a kid, I saw the Kris Kristofferson movie “Convoy” with my dad. Kristofferson stars as the truck driver Martin “Rubber Duck” Penwald, and the movie tells the dramatic story of Rubber Duck and other trucker’s vendetta against an abusive sheriff, the comradery among the truckers, and, of course, big trucks. Huge, 18-wheeler rigs speeding through Arizona dessert. I was blown away by “Convoy”, and there was no doubt in my mind. I was going to be a truck driver when I grew up.
But life wanted things differently. I’m born with an eye condition that make it illegal for me to operate heavy machinery like airplanes, helicopter - and big rigs. I can still remember when the eye doctor told me this. For him, it was just another footnote in his otherwise normal day. For me, it was like getting all my hopes and dreams for the future ruined in the blink of an eye.
But now, 30 odd years later, with the help of Euro Truck Simulator 2 by Czech developer SCS Software, I can finally live my dream of driving those massive trucks across the continent. And there’s no risk of me running over pedestrians because my eyes are all over the place.
Life as a trucker ain’t easy. You have to build your company from the ground up, buy new garages, hire drivers, buy and customize trucks, build your repetition, and learn everything on the job. When you start the game, your options are limited, but the world - or at least parts of central Europe - is your oyster. After a few successful deliveries - where it’s likely you’ll spend most of the time trying to back up the trailer - you have enough money to hire other drivers, buy them trucks, purchase another garage, and then upgrade your own truck. Soon you’ll be the trucking king!
And what a journey it is. Even on my ancient, 9 year old gaming rig, Euro Truck Simulator 2 runs fairly smoothly on high graphics settings. And everything looks really nice. Perhaps not photo realistic, but I often find myself mesmerized by the scenery. What the game lacks in visual realism, it certainly it makes up for in trucking realism. Everything you’d expect to have to handle when driving an actual truck is simulated. Engine brakes, trailer brakes, manual gears, retarder, axle controls, diff lock, indicators, light horn, air horn, normal horn, high beam headlights, parking lights, beacons, wipers, cruise control, just to name a few tings.
Thankfully, most of this can also be handled automatically. So if you don’t want to bother with all the details, and just drive a truck, you can do that, too. And there’s a wide range of trucks to choose from. SCS has licensed 13 models from 7 different manufacturers, among them Volvo, DAF, and Mercedes-Benz. They are all recreated in detail to make you feel like you’re driving a real truck.
The Euro Truck Simulator 2 base game will literally only get you so far. It simulates the road network in central Europe, and Great Britain. It’s a lot to cover, but you’ll eventually run out of road. The amount of official DLC is staggering, though, with 52 different items being available at the time of writing. Most of them are paint jobs, however, adding nothing but a new visual touch to your rigs. But since the game was released four years ago, SCS has also published maps packs for Easter Europe, Scandinavia, and France. This has dramatically increased the number of destinations, and the length of the road network. A brand new map pack for Italy is also in the works. It seems like SCS won’t be abandoning Euro Truck Simulator 2 any time soon.
In addition to all the official DLC, you’ll find a lot of available items in the Steam Workshop. Right now there are more than 2800 items available, ranging from physics tweaks, to new trailers, and cargo.
It’s also possible to link your Euro Truck 2 Simulator profile with SCS’ World of Trucks. Doing this, gives you access to a community hub where you can share screen shots with other World of Trucks users. You also get access to special “external contracts” jobs in the game. Apart from that, I’m honestly not sure what the benefits of the World of Trucks site are. For a second, I thought that World of Trucks was an additional management meta game (like virtual airlines in flight simulators), where you could get cargo moved around by actual players. But it turned out that was not the case. It’s not a bad idea, though. It will open up Euro Truck Simulator 2 further for people who aren’t really into driving a truck, but more into the management part of running a trucking business.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 is every trucking enthusiast’s dream. With support for steering wheels, H-shifters, and virtual reality headsets, the game is the closet thing you’ll get to actually buying a big rig, and heading for central Europe. Keep in mind, though, that this is a simulator, not a racing game. You can go above the speed limit, run red lights, cause collisions and general havoc. But the simulation with punish you with fines that’ll eat up your profits, and damage to both your truck and your cargo that’ll cost you dearly, both in terms of money, and reputation.
What Euro Truck Simulator 2 lacks is more advanced simulation of what’s happening outside the truck. Sure, the economy in the game is fairly well simulated, but everything else is lacking. There is some traffic on the roads, with AI drivers that are behaving too well. The traffic flow is too smooth. There are no real congestion, no accidents, no flat tires, no real road work, no emergency vehicles with blue lights flashing. In general, there are no events happening in the virtual world you’re trucking through. A DLC filled to the brim with events like these would take the game to a whole new and amazing level.
Also, there is no Steam Cloud support, which is ridiculous. There are trading cards, achievements, and workshop support. How hard can it be to have the profile saved to Steam Cloud?
Despite these few shortcomings, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a great piece of work. If you’re looking for a trucking simulator, though, you should drop everything, and buy the game (and much as the DLC as you can afford) right now.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 was reviewed with the following DLC activated: Going East!, Scandinavia, Rocket League Promo, High Power Cargo Pack, Cabin Accessories, and Metallic Paint Job Pack.