If you like driving trucks, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is the game for you.
There’s something ultimately calming about Euro Truck Simulator 2. Whether you’re dashing along the highway, clear skies ahead of you and an open road beckoning, or maneuvering down country roads in the dead of night, rain splashing against your windscreen, the entire experience always feels pleasantly meditative, and in many ways, very different to the typical style of video game that you might expect.
It’s this alternative video game offering, coupled with the sheer abundance of options, scenarios, environments, and attention to detail that make Euro Truck Simulator 2 well and truly stand out from the crowd. Of course, when all of this begins to wear off, it’s perhaps a little too easy to come to the realization that, fundamentally, driving trucks down similar linear roads for hours on end isn’t exactly all that exciting.
You begin as a rookie truck driver, working jobs for other companies. As you complete deliveries around Europe, your experience will increase and your cash flow will roll in steadily, up to the point where you’ll be able to open your own truck-driving company, buy your own trucks, and start making some real cash. This all involves a hell of a lot of driving trucks, as you’d expect. I started in Manchester, UK, and drove across to Grimsby. After that I headed down to Cambridge, then took some cargo across the Channel to Calais, and finally set out across Europe to explore as many different areas as I possibly could.
There’s something about Euro Truck Simulator 2 that’s just so peaceful. All you really have to think about 90 percent of the time is sticking to the road, and watching the scenery go by. Your GPS shows where you need to be going, and roads are very linear, in that there are only ever turn-offs where there are cities you can visit, and these only go by every 10 minutes or so. Again, it’s all about cruising and letting your thoughts run away with you.
And there’s so much to appreciate every step of the way. The environments that sweep by around you are varied, gorgeous, and could easily be true to real-life. You can easily forgive the linearity of the experience, thanks to the sheer size of the world – driving through the UK is a completely different experience to powering your truck through Germany, or Spain, or another European country. There’s so much to see, and those people who want to discover everything will be playing for many dozens of hours.
The various features on offer build on top of this. Your truck can be customized to within an inch of its life, and there’s so much you can control from within the beast that you’ll spend a huge amount of time simply tinkering under the hood. You’ve got different headlight beam settings to play around with, and a multitude of control types to experiment with. And that’s without mentioning the weather types that you can experience, the day and night cycle, the traffic jams, the real-world landmarks, etc. And you can do all of this while listening to your favorite real-life radio station, since Euro Truck Simulator supports a ridiculous number of stations Europe-wide.
Building up your business plays into this too. You gain experience as you play, and with this you can boost the sorts of cargo you can carry, how far you can travel in a single run, the types of trucks you’re allow to buy, and more. What I’m trying to tell you in no uncertain terms is that there’s a hell of a lot of content packed into this game. Yet – and this is a massive yet – despite all of this content, all of this calmness, all of this open road to travel down, I just couldn’t bring myself to fully enjoy Euro Truck Simulator 2. Ultimately, I found it impossible to shake the fact that I’m literally replicating the life of a truck driver, and if I’m being completely honest, it’s really not all that entertaining.
When you first start out and make your first couple of deliveries, you’ll wonder whether the gameplay is going to pick up at some point, or whether you’re suddenly going to just “get it,” and from then on have a great time with the game. Sadly for myself, that moment never came – many hours into play, I still felt like there were much better things I could be doing with my time, and wasn’t really enjoying myself all that much.
There are some issues here and there with the game itself, too. Collisions, for example, can be an absolute nightmare – the game aims for realism, and that’s perfectly fine, but when I’ve just spent an hour driving across Europe, only to get my truck stuck on the ramp going into the destination city because I turned slightly too early (and then I have to call for help, and lose all the money and experience I was going to earn) that can be a massive headache. It’s not exactly something wrong with how the game plays, per se, but it’s a “feature” that is enough to make me want to rip my hair out and never play again.
The interface outside of the truck feels quite amateurish too, with windows scattered all over the place, and options buried within options. The controls are another similar issue – I wanted to play solely with an Xbox controller, and while the game fully supports that, it doesn’t actually set the damn thing up properly for you, meaning you have to jump into the options and experiment with which actions should be mapped to which buttons.
If you find the idea of driving trucks across Europe exciting, then you should totally pick up a copy of Euro Truck Simulator 2. Just because it wasn’t really for me doesn’t mean others won’t thoroughly enjoy it (and judging by its massive popularity on Steam, it may well be that I’m in the minority!). It’s worth downloading the demo before you plump for the full package though, just in case late nights on the open road aren’t really your cup of tea either.