Indie Spotlight: Euro Truck Simulator 2
Drivin’ a big ol’ truck
Pedal to the metal, just tryin’ to make a buck
Got these eighteen wheels a-rollin’ until the break of dawn
Drivin’ a truck with my high beams on!
Breaker One-Nine, this here is time for another Indie Spotlight, this time featuring Euro Truck Simulator 2. I have to admit I’ve been sitting on this one for quite a while now, and I have a very good reason for that. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is totally addictive. On the surface it might give the appearance of being a bit boring and repetitive but wait until you try the game, it’s really nothing of the sort. You start out as a person who decides they want to be a trucker but unfortunately owns nothing of value except a rundown garage and sadly there is no truck to go with it. You start off taking Quick Jobs until you can either afford your own truck or you can go beg the bank for a loan which you pay off with interest. Since I was enjoying seeing all the different trucks and configurations, I opted to work towards owning my own rig without any help from the bank. The Quick Jobs are nice because all you do is get magically teleported to whatever starting city the job is in and drive their truck. You don’t have to worry about fuel, repairs or tolls since all that is handled by your employer. Eventually I earned enough to buy my very first truck. I opted for the lowest end Volvo stripped down to the cheapest everything with no extra features at all. I opted for the UK style interior with the steering wheel on the right hand side of the vehicle since for me it would be more novel than a left hand driven vehicle. It was a good starting truck. Since I now owned my own truck, I would get paid more for doing the same runs as I was doing before. Mind you, unlike when doing a Quick Job, you actually have to pay for everything yourself. This really isn’t too bad though. Even after all costs, I was still earning more with my own truck. Unfortunately, for the most part, the magic teleport vanishes when you have your own truck so you are pretty much forced to pick up jobs in whatever city you ended up in on your last delivery and work your way to other locations. This actually works out fine. I said for the most part because eventually once you become wealthy, you will own more garages and you have the ability to transport yourself between them in real time (no magic instant transport, if it is a day’s drive to your garage, you lose a day teleporting to it.) But I am getting ahead of myself here.
So now I own my own truck, yay! Eventually I earn enough to upgrade my rundown shack of a garage to something more respectable that can hold 3 trucks. In hindsight, I really should have bought a second garage instead of fixing up my old garage. That way I would have been able to teleport, but I wasn’t aware of that feature at the time. I bought myself another truck and hired a driver to run it. Now, not only was I earning money for making runs myself, I had someone working for me and giving me part of their profits in exchange for the use of my truck. Eventually I bought another truck and hired another driver. I continued to build up my business this way until I had a nice little fleet of trucks. I decided my old Volvo was getting a bit out-dated and worn, not really the truck for a respectable boss, so I bought myself a top of the line Volvo. Why did I get another Volvo? It’s mostly because when I was selecting my first truck, the basic Volvo had the biggest low-end engine as stock. When it came time to buy my flagship truck, Volvo also had the biggest highest-end engine. I had had the opportunity to drive all the various trucks and while I also enjoyed the Scania, it had slightly less available horsepower. I’ll probably pick one of those up too for myself eventually.
One nice thing about having your own truck is you can paint it and mod it however you want without your employer getting annoyed at it. There are several paint job DLCs available if you want something more specific, but otherwise there is a lot to choose from once you buy the truck and take it to a repair facility. I have to say my flagship truck looks pretty awesome right now.
Enough about my trucks, it’s time to talk about the “Sofa King Fast Freight Company” aka my Company. With several garages under my belt and a fleet of trucks and drivers, I was starting to earn money faster than I could spend it. I used that money to buy more trucks and garages with the intent to take over the World (of Euro Shipping)! I would choose a job in whatever city I happened to be in that would give me the best Price per Distance. Some people may argue that best Price per job is the better way to select the job you take because you gain more experience the further you drive, and those people are likely right. It’s a great way to level faster. However it kneecaps your income a bit. I could do a 2000 mile job and earn myself a healthy $54,000 at $27 a mile. That sounds much better than an 800 mile run paying a lousy $33,600 at $42 a mile, but when you stop to think, I could always pick up another run at my next destination that might pay better for a longer run. Sure I will get less experience and sure Long Distance driving bonus is higher the further you go but I was earning more money in the long run by doing it my way. I would of course still favor long distance runs if the pay per distance rates were similar even if it worked out to be a little less per mile just because experience is very important too. Experience allows you to level up your skills, which in some cases opens up more hauling options for you. In other cases it gives you more of a bonus for hauling a particular type of cargo. There is one more option if you are interested in saving a little money on fuel costs and that is Eco Driving. Since my big rig only gets about 1 mile per gallon this option is a bit tempting but I actually think I am better off focusing on the other boosters first. Where I fuel up in the game is less than a pound (monetary unit) per gallon most of the time anyway. (Hint: The further east you go, the cheaper the fuel tends to get).
It’s time for us to get in to the real game-play now. For fun let’s assume you own your own truck otherwise the first two steps are skipped. The first thing you need to accomplish when performing a “mission” is to find a job you actually want to do. You can use the in game Freight Job finder to find jobs that will use your own truck (or you can use the Quick Job option on the same screen if you don’t have a truck or don’t want to drive your own truck.) Once you have selected a Freight Job (preferably one near you to make it easier. (Hint: you can click on the dot for the city you are in to set it to only show jobs related to that place.) Once you’ve picked a company you want to drive for this run, the kind of cargo you want to transport, the trailer type you want, the profits you want to make, the destination you want to go to or whatever criteria you used to choose which job you are taking, you need to drive to the company that is offering the job, accept the job before it expires and then drive to where the trailer is stored. Back up until you are aligned with the trailer, hitch up, and then begin your journey. Phew!! Sounds like a lot of work but it’s not really. You have a GPS that tells you the route to take, gives you an ETA of when you will arrive and tells you the current speed limit converted to be displayed in whatever your preferred units are. It’s time to roll out! You drive your truck towards its destination obeying as many of the rules of the road and traffic laws as you care to obey and eventually reach your destination in a timely manner. You can either lazily use auto-park and lose a small amount of XP, or you can back that trailer in to the loading zone yourself. I recommend you do the latter. The journey mostly comprises of you driving down primary and secondary highways and bypassing all cities and towns along the way (unless you decide to detour to perhaps pick up a location for a new truck dealer or another recruitment agency.)
So how much of a simulator is Euro Truck Simulator 2 really? That’s a good question. There are various different control types you can choose for your truck. Basic W is forward and S is backwards controls most likely the actions you are used to from other games, then there is full on manual control where you have to control the shifter box yourself and there are various stages between. There are plenty of Simulator options for you to choose from and either turn on or off. Some of the extra-fun examples are Fatigue simulation and Air Brake simulation. You get tired if you stay up too late right? Just like those late night or all night gaming sessions that leave you with an empty case of energy drinks, empty caffeinated soft drink containers and an empty coffee pot, your driver gets tired if you have been on the road too long. You desperately need to find someplace to pull over and sleep for a while. This of course cuts in to your schedule so you have to watch that you don’t sleep too much or your client will get rather annoyed at you. Another simulated activity is the need to watch your fuel. Unlike in most games, you can run out of fuel in this one so you will need to watch for fuel stations once you start getting low. There is wear and tear on your truck as well. The more you drive, the more your tires wear out. Various automotive parts start wearing out in your truck as well and will need repaired eventually. If you get in to an accident, you may badly damage your truck leaving you limping or being towed to a service station. There are day and night cycles plus the weather can change from nice out to rain. All this (and more) really adds to the realism of the game, but there is something that adds even more to the realism…. Traffic fines. Here you are minding your own business when suddenly you get a notice you just got a fine for not driving with your headlights on at night… ooops… forgot to turn them on. I swear officer, it’s a new truck, and I am still getting used to it! A little while later, dang it, just got a speeding ticket, I didn’t notice the speed trap where they reduced the speed limit for a mile just to be able to nail people. Did you just forget where in the world you were? Seems like it because you just picked up a Wrong Way offense… I want to talk about those again later, remind me if I forget! You didn’t stop for that Red Light buddy, enjoy your fine! Aww crap, just came upon a toll road. There are various other things that add realism to the game such as a truck with a crappy engine will have trouble climbing a steep hill or accelerating after a stop but it would take too long to go in to all the details here.
You can buy yourself new trucks by visiting any one of a number of different brands of truck dealers; each dealer stocks various different models of the trucks and have a ton of features for you to choose from. You don’t actually have to drive to the dealers; they have the option to teleport you to them. It really doesn’t waste much in game time to teleport to them no matter where you are in comparison to where they are. More time is wasted if they happen to be closed as the game will advance time until they have been open for about an hour. Once you own at least 5 trucks, you don’t even need to visit the actual dealers anymore as you can just buy your trucks online.
Once you have some trucks, they will just go to waste if you don’t hire some drivers. Drivers are available once you find your first recruitment agency and the more recruitment agencies you find, the more drivers will be available at any one given time. Drivers come with their own starting skills and salary requirements. As they drive they, just like you, will level up. You can tell them what to focus on. I suggest starting with Long Distance driving and then branching off to ADR and/or High Value cargos. The drivers will start off slow, barely making you any money but as they become more skilled, the higher the profits they will bring in. I tried an experiment where I gave two people ranked the same with the same starting skills allocated to the same garage two highly different trucks. I gave one the cheapest crappiest truck I could find, the other I gave a much more powerful and more expensive rig. I waited a week then compared their profits. Both were pretty much the same with the crappier truck driver actually earning slightly more. I don’t think it matters too much about the quality of the trucks your people drive so you can cut some corners starting out by buying just the cheapies for them.
This game isn’t perfect. It does have some flaws to it. These are mostly understandable flaws that don’t detract too much from the game but it would be nice if they were fixed. Kamikaze cars are a major gripe for me. One could argue it adds realism, and I’m sure it does, but they are annoying and can cause you to reload your save if you don’t want to take the damage, penalties and fines for the collision. You have the right of way, and suddenly for no reason, the car pulls out in front of you or smashes into the back end of your trailer. You just took damage and maybe even a fine depending on where they hit. Your employer will be mad and penalize you for any damage to their trailer as well. Another thing that can cause a car to kamikaze you is if you happen to drift over a line even slightly. For example the line at the side of the road that shows the edge of the road. If you drift a fraction of an inch over that line, a car in the lane next to you might merge in to the lane you are actually in and hit you. This “slightly out” error actually plagues me in the game and is really the only detractor I have for the game. Let’s say you are coming up to a green light with your truck going the speed limit and it is clear in front of you. The light goes yellow so you start to slow down. It turns red and you stop at the white line… but the very tip of the front of your truck crosses near side of the line a fraction of an inch because trucks can’t stop on a dime. You just picked up a ticket for running a red light. Maybe in places that have traffic cams this is how it is, and is just ultra-realism. There are no traffic light cams here so I can’t really say for certain, but if that is how they are in reality, I don’t want to ever go to places with those cameras! Wrong way offenses can suffer from this as well. You are turning a corner and you are clearly aligned to be going in to the proper lane but the game decides you are going the wrong way on the road and nails you with a fine. It’s likely caused by the “slightly out” problem I mentioned earlier. In reality that turn would have been fine and even if there were cars turning the opposite way, there is no way you would have come close enough to hit them. That’s about all I have for the flaws right now. My only other gripe for the game is just that sometimes a really long haul can start dragging on after a while because there isn’t anything to spice it up. Some wildlife running out on the road, maybe a forest fire or fallen rock, anything different would help break up and add interest to a run that you have done multiple times already. The only thing that really changes is sometimes it will rain, maybe it will be busier, possibly a couple cars will have got into an accident and you will have to avoid them or perhaps it is night-time for this run instead of day-time.
Even with the few detractors I mentioned in the last paragraph, I’ve still managed to log over 70 hours in playing the game and plan to log quite a few more before I hang up my trucker’s cap. My new truck really helps keep the long runs from getting tedious because I stopped caring about keeping to the speed limit and turned the limiter off. I can now fly along the highway going almost double the speed limit in places and have a lot of fun trying not to roll over on to corners or lose control. Since I know the roads so well now (plus there are warning signs) I don’t even pick up any speeding tickets. There are no random police cars hidden, it’s all done by cameras and the cameras never move. They are pretty sensitive too, go more than a couple miles over the limit and they will nail you.
That’s about all I have to say about Euro Truck Simulator 2. It’s a game that is definitely worth giving a try to. If you picked it up in a bundle and it is rusting away in your backlog, maybe you should consider giving it a go. If you have not bought it yet because you thought it might not be your style, maybe you should reconsider. The Going East DLC is a rather good one to pick up if you are considering DLC and if you want even more varieties of trailers, the High Power Cargo DLC is great. Speaking of DLC, if you log in to the World of Trucks site you can even claim a free Metallic Paints DLC to make your truck look about 20% cooler.