If you have played games on a PC for any length of time, I can pretty much guarantee that you have come across either one or the other of these games, if not both. Developed and published by SCS Software, The Truck Sim franchise has a huge following. Euro Truck Simulator and American Truck Simulator together have the highest playtime of games in my steam library… More than Skyrim does. Let’s explore why.
Largely, the majority of what I have to say about one game will relate to the other. Both games are built on the same game engine. They’re built to the same scale. Its only on the surface where you can see the differences. Let’s start by looking under the hood of the games, within the settings. This game, above anything else, is a simulator. It aims to be as realistic as possible. The first way that this is seen is through the first time set up where it asks you how you would like to play. Either with a keyboard and mouse, steering wheel, or full-blown set up with pedals and gear shifter to boot. For the purpose of this review, I am using a keyboard and mouse but have adjusted some settings so that I can get the most realistic experience I can.
The first setting I have is that when I start a truck, I need to press the E key twice, once to turn on the power and then a second time to start the engine. Natively it is set to be combined so you only need to press it once but… Simulator… I have also activated a various setting that allows more realism including having a more complex coupling and decoupling trailer hitch set up, it’s also set up that when I get to my final destination, I will always park it where the game wants it to go, the hardest setting.
It’s not just the settings that you choose that can make or break the feel of the simulator, it’s the trucks themselves and the subtle differences that make the trucks different. In Euro Truck Sim alone, there are seven different manufacturers and 15 models to choose from (Each one having submodels offing different engines, bodies and transmissions). If you have your favourite model of truck, then its available there to be driven. Once you’ve chosen your truck there’s the beautiful ability to modify the truck, Upgrade it as much or as little as you want. Don’t want to change the hardware but want a new paint job, just go to the garage and its there.
The next thing to look at is the maps within the game. Within Euro truck sim, you have a dumbed down version of the UK, France and Germany to name a few. There are mods that allow the unofficial expansion of the maps. But if you have the money there are Map DLC’s available that unlocks the rest of France in the Viva La France! DLC, all of Italy within the Italia! DLC. Within Scandinavia you unlock, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. And finally, there’s the Going East! DLC that gives unlocks more of the Eastern Block. Notice that the map with the DLC crosses many time zones, the developers even added a feature that you would get the correct Geo location positions for the sun at different times of day (Pretty cool little feature if you ask me).
Within American Truck Sim, the map packs are done a little differently. Each DLC is unlocking a different state. The base game comes with California preinstalled, but the DLCs Arizona and Nevada are free to download meaning you’re not just stuck in Calli. There is also a DLC expansion for New Mexico, but you will need to pay for that one. The biggest thing to notice is that each area has its own style, it’s obvious that you’re in France, or Sweden, or the UK. It’s slightly harder to notice within American Truck Sim, but once the developers have worked their way over to Florida (At least I hope that’s the plan) it should be a little more obvious.
So far I’ve only really splurged about the top layer of the game, there’s so much depth to this game that I can’t talk about it all within a review like this. As an example of how good this game is as a simulator, people who are training for their HGV licences will often use these games to get extra practice in, without being physically in a truck. If you have a system that is powerful enough to push the game across three monitors, then the only thing you will find to be more realistic would be to sit in a real truck. It’s that good.
Personally, I find that the deeper you throw yourself into these simulator games, the more fun you have. If you put time into the games and push yourself to become a better driver, there’s more satisfaction in completing a route. There are issues, and it will never be as realistic as driving a truck IRL. But, considering the length of time that the games have been in development, I’m going to say that they’ve done a pretty good job. Overall, I’m going to give both games the same score (since there basically the same) of 7.8.