There are few American dreams as attractive to me as that of exploring the open road. Take the freeways in a smooth vehicle, drive until late at night, wait for the next sleepy little town to spread out before you – these are all things I like but I do a lot less often than I would like now that I have a “job” and I have to be “responsible” and “pay my bills”.
Thank god for the game American truck simulator, then. The 2016 version for PC and Mac – which is continuously being developed by developer SCS Software – is exactly what it sounds like: a game where you are a truck driver, making long journeys and transporting goods from city to city. But what it really excels at is capturing the feeling of driving across the vast open expanses of the country, the radio playing some of your favorite tunes (you can load your favorite songs right in the game). You have places to go, but for now, you’re only killing time.
It is an extraordinarily relaxing experience, and by the time you finish a run from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, you might have entered a sort of meditative state. It may not seem like a good time for some, but for those who play video games mainly to relax after a long day (like me), this is one of the games that will best achieve this.
And, hey, if your forties get depressed, if the thing you would most like to do is go entirely to another city, well, few things are more socially distant than the cab of a semi, except the cab of a semi that only exists in a video game. This could scratch this travel bug a bit, until quarantine rises, and we can all do long-haul routes in the real world.
American Truck Simulator is the kind of game that lets you have the experience you want with it – as long as you drive a truck
As a truck driving simulation, American Truck Simulator is not bad. I have driven half a handful of times (I grew up on a farm and my father owned one), and you rarely get the sense of the weight of your virtual truck that a real one would have. But maybe it’s okay, because even a massive collision with another car in this game only results in a fine, the other car being unharmed. It wouldn’t happen … in real life.
As a simulation of the United States, American Truck Simulator is slightly better, although it currently crosses the country from the Pacific coast very, very slowly. The base game allows for journeys through California, Nevada and Arizona, and other expansion packs have added New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Utah, with Idaho coming sometime this year. Simulations of these states capture their essence, with big cities more or less alike and lots of fun paths to explore (if you’re not on time for a delivery).
The spaces are large, but not impossible. Taking a job in northern Washington and driving to the southern tip of New Mexico will take you well over an hour, but it would take you well over a day in real time, so the scale of the game is large but not too large. (What’s even more impressive about the game’s ability to capture the feel of West America is how it is designed by a Czech company.)
The difficulty is also changing. You can get a more realistic simulation of driving by increasing it, or you can lower it completely and just bombard the American West by listening to killer tunes.
It’s also the kind of game that lets you play the way you want. If you really want to move without worrying about transporting goods, you can do it. If you want to take as much transport work as possible and go around the stopwatch, you can also do it. And if you are more business oriented and want to use your income to buy more trucks and hire drivers and start a trucking business, there are many options for doing so as well.
It may seem strange to use the time when you are not at your real job to start a virtual job, but the attraction of these types of simulators lies in the way they offer us a window on lives that exist in outside of normal pop culture portraits. . Truckers aren’t exactly the center of many entertainment options, and neither is the colossal and blue-collar job they do. American Truck Simulator won’t make you an expert trucker or anything like that, but it might give you an appreciation for the people who continue the American trade, or at least for the siren song of the open road.
Just don’t ask me how to save a truck with two trailers attached to it. It always takes me forever.
American truck simulator is available for purchase on Steam.