Rolling with American Truck Simulator
Posted on November 28, 2023 by Aywren
I mentioned yesterday that I’ve been gravitating towards more casual, less strenuous games as of late. Even so, the last thing I ever thought I’d pick up during this Steam sale was American Truck Simulator. And beyond that, I couldn’t have imagined how much I actually would enjoy this game.
This is the reality I now live in, however. I’d passingly heard of the game before, and ran across it when I was just browsing the sales. I saw that it was rated overwhelmingly positive, and that caught my interest. Following that, I did some reading, then turned to Twitch to watch some gameplay.
During this, I found out that there’s an open world multiplayer version of this game (later I learned it’s a mod), somewhat like the Microsoft Flight Simulator. That really got my interest, though I haven’t actually tried it yet because the mod needs to be brought up to date with the newest game version.
I bought the game for about $5, and realized it wasn’t just about trucking around, it was about building up your own trucking company. This was even more appealing to me, and I started to learn the ins and outs. Once I realized how much I liked the game, I indulged in much of the very cheap DLC that’s on sale right now.
The way the game works is that you get an initial three states with the original base game. From there, you can pick up DLC in the form of additional states, and expand your routes and landscapes. I’ve been quite impressed with the variety of scenes as I’ve moved from one state to the next – you can deal with the urban areas of California, bask in the mountain areas in Oregon, or head to New Mexico for wide open spaces.
While I’ve not been to many of these areas IRL, from what I read in the comments, ATS does a good job of recreating places very faithfully. I was also amazed at the realism of random happenings along the roads – from road construction, police pull-overs, broken down cars – I even saw a manhole wide open on the street spraying a huge fountain of water while workers scrambled to put it right.
The game itself plays well. I’ve had no problem learning to drive with keyboard and mouse, though some prefer controller. Even better, if you’re invested enough, a steering wheel controller is also a strong option for the game.
You can choose how difficult you want to make it, too. If you rather gears shift automatically, you can choose that. Or, if you want a more realistic experience, you can shift manually instead.
There’s also a multiplayer aspect of it in the form of World of Trucks, an official online website companion to the game. Here, you can create a trucker profile, upload and share pictures, and take part in community challenge events.
I heard there will be such an event coming up for the holidays, as well as the new state that’s being released later this week, Kansas.
Once you’ve earned enough cash running jobs in the game for other companies, you can then invest in your own truck. That’s when the truck customization comes into play. Everything down to the license plate (which you can set in World of Trucks).
As you complete more jobs, you level up as a trucker. There’s even a skill bar of sorts that you can put points into to unlock additional perks such as longer delivery trips, more valuable cargo, different types of cargo – that sort of thing.
Then, once you expand your garage and invest in a second truck, you can hire other truckers to work for you, and they will start to passively generate income for your company as well.
Every time I turn around, I keep finding new features that I didn’t realize existed in the options section, too. For example, I always ran with the GPS display up front. I noticed a streamer had a GPS that had voice to it, and thought – wow, that would be nice. I expected it to be a mod (this game is very mod-friendly), but it turns out there was a sound setting for it built in to the base game that I didn’t know about.
Let’s not mention all the fun things you can see alongside the roads as you drive, too. There are pedestrians and there are lots of parody businesses as well. Haven’t we all wanted to go to a Woffletopia before? I know I have!
Anyhow, the more I learn about ATS, the more I completely understand why it has an Overwhelmingly Positive rating from the players. This turned out to be exactly the kind of game I need right now – something that keeps my attention, but isn’t challenging, and sometimes just lets you chill while driving through some lovely places.