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 Post subject: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 22:52 
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Country roads, take me home, to the place, where I was born… mountain highway… doo de doo doo… take me home...

Gosh, this game is good. Sure, some may say that it’s just a lot of meandering fetch quests without any real plot and a complete lack of compelling NPCs, a game that tries to get by on lashings of Americana, but in all honesty American Truck Simulator is one of the greatest games on…

What?

American Truck Simulator. I’m sorry, did you think I was talking about something else?

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ATS Screens (6).jpg


Whilst Bethesda have been prancing about on giant stages in a straw-boater promising monorails to braying audiences, the humble Czech team SCS Software have been diligently noodling away at what I believe to be one of the best games on PC. This game is called American Truck simulator. It simulates an American truck, several of them in fact. It does not simulate the entirety of America, which some Thumbs Down reviewers bizarrely seem to get upset about, but it does do a remarkable job of selling you the idealistic dream of the Eagle-screeching freedom of American truck driving. ATS (for that is what we shall call it from here on in) places you as a humble trucker for hire slowly climbing up the ladder of the trucking industry, from day-cab dilettante to an eighteen wheels of steel transport magnate with garages and hired drivers scattered like apple-seeds across six states.

Simply put you fire up the freight market and pick a delivery job. There are over a hundred cities and hundreds of different cargoes – everything from the thrilling world of Office Stationary delivered to Eureka CA to picking up the more humdrum Boeing 747 Fuselage from Tacoma, Washington State. It might not be a simple case of driving A to B however, as random events can occur on the roads, be they a light aircraft having made a forced landing on a stretch of freeway to a speeding Hollywood executive pulled over by a grumpy traffic cop. Major incidents can even force you to detour many miles, putting into jeopardy tight delivery schedules as you try to puzzle out a speedy alternative to punch in to the GPS. Then there’s the refuelling pit-stops, the weigh-stations checking the fitness of your vehicle and load and the regular overnight stops at lonely motels and coyote infested desert pull-overs.

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ATS Screens (2).jpg


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The game looks beautiful. It’s not cutting edge triple-A graphics, the game having only just moved to DirectX 11, but there’s a lot of love, care and attention laboured on the maps. Unlike Fallout 76, the map is kept admirably free from bugs and is well-optimised, leading to a smooth drive through even bustling cities. There are currently six states in the game, covering a large chunk of the Western United States. California, Nevada and Arizona launched as part of the base game. They’re fun to drive around, but looking a little longer in the tooth as compared to subsequent map-packs. Fortunately SCS are currently slowly revamping the maps, with the aim of bringing them up to par with the more recent New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. The map is scaled to 1:20, which means that for every twenty miles in real-life there’s one mile in-game. Although this means the maps are not quite true to life, there are many intersections, road-side curiosities and stretches of city that are remarkably true to real life – and I even had the eerie sensation of recognising a few of places I’d been to in on previous jaunts to Oregon and Nevada. There’s a strong dedication to realism in the game, with the sights really echoing the beauty in the banal that topographic photographers such as Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld touted in the seventies. There’s nothing quite like pulling off a highway into a truck rest-stop, switching the engine off and just listening to the rumble of traffic go by, or threading your way through a wooded mountain pass to emerge into a small town in a hollow with beautiful murals adorning the sides of old-red brick buildings, the air-conditioning units poking out of windows, Indian jewellery stalls on the sidewalk. Switch off the game, go into Google Earth and by-God – it’s really there. The number of times I’ve nearly crashed rubber-necking impressive vistas or odd little sights (keep an eye out for the Bates Motel and the Overlook in their real-fiction locations) is many.

Accompanying the immersive graphics is the superb in-game radio feature. You can tune in to any internet radio channel in game, which means that as you roll through the remote East Oregon you can actually listen to the local radio stations that play there. There’s a good selection that comes in the game, you can add your own finds or opt to play a mix of music from your own library on your hard drive. Finding the right radio channel really enhances the game, as sometimes it just seems to know what should be playing at any given moment. Hotel California by the Eagles in the evening as you roll down the I5 into Bakersfield. Riders on the Storm as heavy rain pelts you on the run from Medford to Eugene in the green rain-soaked valleys of coastal Oregon. Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa by Gene Pitney when you’re… um… far more than twenty-four hours from Tulsa.

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Combined with the great sound-work utilising real-life recordings of the trucks in question, even down to the rain on the windshield and the squeak of windscreen wipers, it’s easy sometimes to zone out and suddenly feel you’re there.

True you can end up unintentionally grinding and it becomes far too easy to make money when you’ve set up a few garages, but overall the gameplay is just perfect for relaxing pick-up-and-play sessions. You can complete a delivery between neighbouring cities within a coffee break, or for the real long runs from say Tacoma, Washington to Hobbs, New Mexico, you’ll have to be ready to sacrifice a couple of hours from your day. The trucking life is varied too. One day you’re bumping along dirt tracks through a forest to pick up lumber, the next you’re delivering a giant road-resurfacing machine to a freeway pull-over in Los Angeles. The driving feels great and the game is playable from everything from keyboard and mouse through controllers to great big proper wheel and gear-shifter rigs. Myself I use an old flight-sim joystick and it answers perfectly, with my being able to use the little HAT toggle to look around my perfectly modelled Peterbilt truck cabin and out the windows.

The game is updated pretty regularly, with new roads added in to existing states and new gameplay features and trucks added for free. There are a couple of cargo packs you can buy along with the map DLC, but the base game is pretty huge itself and the prices for what you get are piffling. You can pretty much buy the full six states and the two cargo packs for thirty quid if you’re smart with the bundle discounts. The Washington State DLC map has just come out and though I've only driven a fraction of its roads I've already fallen a little in love with its beauty. Taking the run along the I90 from Seattle to Spokane may not have you drive through the small town of North Bend that Twin Peaks made famous, but you can see the distinctive titular peaks themselves of Snoqualmie pass, and drive through the dense douglas fir forest and up the steep grades of the mountain region. My current favourite location? The snugly nestled away small town surrounding Grand Coulee Dam with its girder bridge, rocky river, white picket fences and local grocery store with its insatiable demand for shipments of cheese.

American Truck Simulator is certainly in my top ten games of all time, and with the release of the Washington DLC I’ll now be able to fulfil my heart’s desire and drive from Las Vegas to the dark woods of Snoqualmie – thus mirroring the journey of Dale Cooper at the end of Twin Peaks: The Return. It may lack the Double R Diner, but it's a place I find to be a welcome escape.

Now please excuse me, I have a giant load of fish-sticks to delivery to Albuquerque.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 23:35 
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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 23:37 
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I also love Murky Trerk Serm. Utah next! In 15 years we may have a full Murk to drive across.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 23:39 
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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 0:08 
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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 0:12 
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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:43 
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I'm curious what people that do this for an actual living feel about this as a concept for a game, which I suppose could be extended to train and flight sims and probably other stuff too. I can personally see the appeal of using a game to relaxingly pootle around and seeing the sights.

I know a couple of truck drivers out here, next time I see them I'll ask.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:38 
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I just wish VR implementation was better

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:21 
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Sir Taxalot wrote:
I'm curious what people that do this for an actual living feel about this as a concept for a game, which I suppose could be extended to train and flight sims and probably other stuff too. I can personally see the appeal of using a game to relaxingly pootle around and seeing the sights.

I know a couple of truck drivers out here, next time I see them I'll ask.


SCS attended all the truckfests that are held across Yerp to show off their games. Very positively by all accounts.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:44 
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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:46 
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They do community events to unlock more customisation items like that. The last one I participated in was to deliver digging machinery to the Big Sur landslide site, which they created incredibly quickly to coincide with the real-life landslide.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 13:24 
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I have a spare Steam key for this if anyone wants it.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 17:37 
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Squirt wrote:
I love the little Chainsaw dangly thing from your mirror. Do you get to choose that?


This one came with the Forest Machinery Heavy Cargo pack that came free with Washington State. I like how it swings about jauntily as I do tight turns or suddenly break. Like Dimrill, I also got a digger one by helping in the Big Sur landside event.

Unlike Euro Truck Simulator 2 they're being cautious with cabin accessories, with only two danglies available, as rules are a lot stricter in the US as to what clutter you can have in the cab.

And if any of you desire to chill out, listen to podcasts and gawp at gorgeous scenery I say take Dimrill up on his offer - definitely so if you already have a steering wheel!

Sir Taxalot wrote:
I'm curious what people that do this for an actual living feel about this as a concept for a game, which I suppose could be extended to train and flight sims and probably other stuff too. I can personally see the appeal of using a game to relaxingly pootle around and seeing the sights.


From what I see on the SCS forum there are quite a few truck drivers and ex-truck drivers hooked on the game. They tend to view it as not too accurate simulator in being useful to learning the job (excepting reverse parking) but that it captures the spirit of it very well. I'm a bit surprised that truck drivers after a gruelling day's driving would want to play it on a laptop too, but there you go.

Dimrill wrote:
I also love Murky Trerk Serm. Utah next! In 15 years we may have a full Murk to drive across.


ERMAGHERD! I cannot wait. Utah's going to be awesome. Here's hoping we get to ship Mormon bibles to hotels across the states. The state is supposed to be pretty beautiful, and will be great in doing away with the hockey-stick shape of the map currently. After that, Idaho, which should box out the map nicely and mean you can drive in a great diagonal from North Washington state down to the Southern Western corner of New Mexico.

My predictions for the coming map DLCs after Utah:

Idaho - So trucks can roll straight through WA and Oregon into Idaho and finally Utah.
Colorado - should box off the map very nicely and mean that New Mexico isn't hung out there on its own. Important for when Texas comes.
Wyoming - Should be interesting as very low population (half a million!) and low industry should make for a more oddly realistic feeling drive as cities and industries will be far apart.
Montana - Takes it up to the Northern border alongside Washington and rounds off the Western states, making for an easily marketable map taking up half the US and opening up all sorts of options as far as the Mid-West. Like Wyoming underpopulated so will make a nice break.
Texas - Huge! This will take a long time and will be noodled away at by one of the three map teams as the other two work on the above states. Texas will be the big selling point and should hopefully pull ATS up to being as equally popular as Euro Truck 2.

After that, who knows? Probably Oklahoma and Kansas, but I reckon with each between-DLC update they'll be working on revamping California, Nevada and maybe Arizona bit by bit too. The original two states of California and Nevada look a bit long in the tooth and not terribly realistic in parts (though nowhere near as bad as Euro Truck's base game central Europe used to look) so it would be good to give them an overhaul. I'd especially like them to go to town on Nevada with the new rock-formation and mountain map tools they have.

I love ATS. I love driving the old school Peterbuilt 389 and Kenworth W900 trucks. I love the regularity and invention of the updates and how I never seem to complete the map (on 76% at the moment) as they're always adding to it as I get closer to completion. It also makes for a handy 'New American Topographics Photography Simulator'.

Dimmers! You got Washington yet? Or the Forestry DLC? Explored much of it yet? I'm about a third of the way through the state, still got to do all the Northern half too.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 17:52 
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NervousPete wrote:
(though nowhere near as bad as Euro Truck's base game central Europe used to look)


And the fields of sunflowers being farmed just outside the centre of Brum. And the soviet style chimneys.

NervousPete wrote:
Dimmers! You got Washington yet? Or the Forestry DLC? Explored much of it yet? I'm about a third of the way through the state, still got to do all the Northern half too.


I have! I'm approaching it cautiously as I'm liable to binge it and get burned out again. I purchased the Italian dulluck for YerpTrerk back in November and I've still yet to actually enter the country.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 18:00 
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Yeah, I've got most of the DLC for YerpTrerk up to and including Italy, but have barely scratched the surface with that one. The American one just feels more vast and open owing to the spread-out cities. Though Euro Truck 2 has as much effort put into it as ATS, the closeness of the cities due to population density feels a bit more jarring.

I've still three big roads in Oregon to complete, and lots of little roads and spurs throughout the other states. I'm sure as soon as I rock up past 90% they'll release another state or a bunch of roads.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 18:31 
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I have a spare Steam key for this if anyone wants it.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 18:47 
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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 18:47 
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I actually quite like the sound of this game, although this may have more to do with Pete's wonderful reviewing style and compelling prose than anything else.

Maybe one to have a crack at, especially since the cost of entry seems reasonable.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 19:41 
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Pete’s reviews are great. He made The Long Dark sound more exciting than I ever found it.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 20:33 
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Mr Chonks wrote:
Pete’s reviews are great. He made The Long Dark sound more exciting than I ever found it.

I loved The Long Dark, until I happened upon a method to easily survive.

I should go back and try a harder map.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 0:03 
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Hearthly wrote:
I actually quite like the sound of this game, although this may have more to do with Pete's wonderful reviewing style and compelling prose than anything else.

Maybe one to have a crack at, especially since the cost of entry seems reasonable.


Whelp they have a pretty generous demo which allows you to drive all around California to your hearts content. Just be aware that Arizona is a fair bit better and New Mexico, Oregon and Washington substantially better maps.

Mr Chonks wrote:
Pete’s reviews are great. He made The Long Dark sound more exciting than I ever found it.


Aw, thenks! Maybe I should try for RPS beseechingly or something. Be aware I'm easily enraptured by any game with a compelling sense of geography. Mileage may vary.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 0:13 
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The main problem with Caffilorna is the damn 55mph speed limit. And Nevada has the hateful Tonopah junction of big shits.

Our masochistic big chinned goose-like friend has made a traffic mod if you want to make the game more frustrating. https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/ ... raffic+mod he loves it the dirty get.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 0:37 
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I worship him for his mod that switches the Cardiac-arrest inducing weigh-station alert buzzer to a jaunty Mexican musical doorbell jingle, I'll hear nowt against the man for that!

They've redone Tonopah now, its nice and pretty and no longer hateful. Unless you're including the recent Tonopah update in that.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:23 
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I'll have to pop over. I've been rejecting any jobs that pass through there since three weeks after launch :S

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:01 
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Mr Chonks wrote:
Pete’s reviews are great. He made The Long Dark sound more exciting than I ever found it.


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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2020 15:48 
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Hey hey Beex-Truckers!

Excited to say that a new update has dropped for American Truck Simulator. It's the public open beta for the oncoming 1.38 update! It looks fab. Go to the blog here for exciting times... https://blog.scssoft.com/2020/06/ats-138-open-beta.html

Here's the highlights in a little spoiler for the impatient ones...

ZOMG Spoiler! Click here to view!
Las Vegas has been completely re-worked, as has El Centro.
New roads! UT-56 and US-191 plus more odds and ends.
You can now save more colour swatches for custom paint jobs for your fleet of trucks, plus the ability to now create full sets of transferable colours.
Navigator re-design.
Reworked all truck-stop gas pumps to a more realistic design.
DX11 SSAO rendering for lush shadows.


So that's my weekend booked. Hopefully Idaho soon, too. The potatoes must flow! I'm really getting back into this after a big burn-out break. Played a little last night, rolling into Nevada from Utah at sunset as I listened to the Bangles' Manic Monday on the in-game radio, the song sandwiched by adverts for a e-cigarettes with a hilariously fast-medical-side-effect lengthy readout and an old-school 'honest Larry' shady used car dealership. Good ol' ATS, how I missed you. And then the update dropped today. Good times!

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:05 
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Can you dig it?

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Hearthly wrote:
I actually quite like the sound of this game, although this may have more to do with Pete's wonderful reviewing style and compelling prose than anything else.


I feel the same way too, similar to when Metalangel would play the farming games, or Grim... would play The Sims.

Edit: and also EVE and Elite

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 18:52 
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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 22:30 
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I bought this and have put a couple of hours into it, I like it very much so far.

Questions!

Not all the internet radio stations seem to work, (I press play on the station, but no music plays), do you just let it populate the list itself from the internet as per the handy button, or furnish it with a radio station list as per one of the files it says you can provide for it to ingest? The list is of stations is of reasonable length but I can't help but think there are far more radio stations than that in America.

Any recommendations on where to put skill points early on, or just pick what you like the sound of?

Is it worth borrowing money off the bank early on to get your own truck and stuff, or should one save up the required cash performing jobs as a driver for hire?

The consensus seems to be that the three states you get with the base game are probably the weakest as they were done first, the expansions are all very reasonably priced so I may just get them all, but are any of them particular standouts?

So far, so good! It's quite a relaxing game to play, although bugger me those trucks are fiddly bastards to manoeuvre in tight spaces and reversing them is hard work.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 23:03 
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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 2:22 
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Hearthly wrote:
I bought this and have put a couple of hours into it, I like it very much so far.

Questions!


Awlright!

Glad to hear you've picked it up. It really is a remarkable game, super-relaxing and great for listening to podcasts as well.

Regarding the radio stations, yeah some of them have fallen out of circulation since the game was originally released. (Flower Power Radio, how I miss you.) There's a handy guide on how to add them here:

https://truck-simulator.fandom.com/wiki/Radio_Stations

I've got a big spread of radio stations in game saved in a config file. I can send it you if you like, though the defunct / dead ones are still listed as I can't be bothered to take them off... and because I'm not ready to say goodbye to Flower Power Radio yet.

It's entirely up to you as far as skill points go, but the one to max out on first is the one that allows you to do longer and longer routes. I'd aim to max this one out first as it'll give you a whole lot more jobs to go for, and there's something very satisfying about running the longer journeys where it begins to feel you're actually driving in America. You make more money running long routes too. I'd maybe throw in a couple of points into Fuel Economy early on, after a few notches on Long Distance. Then I'd go High Value Cargo and mix it up with Fragile Cargo. Then start doing the specialist hazardous stuff before finally finishing off Fuel Economy and Just-In-Time deliveries.

You can start out by being a gun for hire, and I quite enjoyed grinding up to my first truck, but you'll easily be making enough money to pay off any single loan you get reasonably quickly so by all means go for it. The bigger loans are better value than the smaller ones, so get a single $400,000 instead of a $200,000. If you do go for a smaller loan, you may as well pay it off with a bigger loan immediately as the interest rate is lower on the bigger loans.

SCS are redoing the base maps city by city with every update they release. They've just done an excellent revamp of Las Vegas. Of the base maps is the weakest, being somewhat inaccurate with outdated incorrect freeway junctions and not as good detailing. However they have added some beautiful routes to California. Thoughts on the various maps, DLC and recommended scenic routes are as follows....

California

Oakdale to Carson City - CA120.

This beautiful route winds its way through Yosemite National Park. Stunning scenery and some real variations in height as you follow a winding road up through wooded mountain passes besides beautiful lakes. One catch - you can't take large trailers through Yosemite or they'll fine you as it is a National Park.

CA-101 Coastal Route

Some lovely scenery along here. It's one of the oldest bits of the map but still fairly pleasant. After a real world landslide buried part of the road at Big Sur, the game had an update a couple of weeks later that replicated, and in which truckers in game had to contribute to a global total of real life tonnage in hauling away the slide to open up the road again. They got it done faster than in real life, obviously.

CA-190

This little stretch of road running across the desert was one of the first free roads added after the early massive update that rescaled the map by 175%. It takes you from the remarkably accurate un-marked hamlet of Olancha to Beatty on the CA-195 through Death Valley National Park. Remarkably accurate, right down to the rest-stop at Stovepipe Wells.

Nevada

Included in the original base game, this is a step up from California, especially now with Las Vegas. It still suffers from its age though, by comparison the new states do a far better job of representing desert. Still, night-time drives in the howling emptiness really are something. Here are the best routes...

US-93

A seemingly continuously reworked road by virtue of its proximity to Utah, this is a varied drive down from Ely to Las Vegas. Pioche is especially charming as a small village with a hill-top church. When passing through the unmarked Mazany Creek, look out for the stand-off between police, bulldozers and the inhabitants of a trailer park. This route terminates in Las Vegas, which is pretty glorious.

Reno is my headquarters in the game, as I've been there in real life and in the surrounding hills. Plus my favourite band are from there, Richmond Fontaine. Overall Nevada is a pleasant and easy drive with fast highways, but nothing drop dead gorgeous aside from perhaps the remodelled Vegas.

Arizona

This was to have been the first paid DLC, but SCS released it for free as they felt a bit guilty over licensing issues meaning that they had only two truck dealerships at release. Arizona is a big step up from California and Nevada, and shows the mapping team becoming more comfortable with more realistic feeling routes.

Hobrook to Gallup - Interstate 40

Just shy of the New Mexico border there's a quaint Americana in tourist trading post, Native American gift shops and tipi campsites. Also look out for the Petrified Forest near the Holbrook end.

Phoenix to Flagstaff - Interstate 17

Decent route that I seem to take an awful lot. I quite like the picturesque nature of Flagstaff with the commuter trains running through this tourist town. There's a historic train station here too.

Kayenta to Holbrook - US-191

Added in the latest update, this is a new road that's simple but purdy. There's three mapping teams working on ATS. Two cover two states on the go. The third work on updating old roads and adding new ones to old maps as part of free updates, it being a team designed to train up new mappers. They may also secretly be noodling away at Texas, but this has yet to be proven.

New Mexico

This state was the first paid DLC, and it's a huge leap ahead in terms of mapping quality. It took almost a year to complete after set-backs, but it was worth it. It's a deliberately bleak, true-to-life state echoing elements of Twin Peaks: The Return. It feels far more real than the preceding states, and has a chillingly utilitarian feel to it. Yet there's lots of odd things to find from the UFO museum in Roswell to a RV meth lab out in the desert. There may also be a slice of pizza on a roof somewhere. New Mexico has the best rest-stops, in my opinion. This is the first map where you can drive past something, gawp, alt-tab to Google Earth and quickly find it there.

Las Cruces to Alamogordo - US-70

This takes you through the bleak beauty of White Sands National Park, past the real-life White Sands Missile Range where, at a scenic overlook, a decommissioned Nike-Hercules nuclear-tipped surface-to-air-missile sits.

Albuquerque-Tucumcari - Interstate 40

Fun road that houses the real-life musical road. When you see the symbols drive along the verge for a parpy tune built into the asphalt.

Farmington to Raton - Route 64

A jaw-dropping standout road that caused waves on release. This beautiful winding forested mountain road full of tricky turns is punctuated by close agricultural valleys and small tourist mountain communities. Raton is an attractive place built on a slope that looks fairly close to real life.

Show-Low to Socorro - Route 60

Two thirds of the way to Socorro across the New Mexico border keep a look out the Very Large Array of giant radio telescopes. This wide plain has lots of cosy looking little communities and is particularly pleasant to drive through at dawn and dusk.

Oregon

Ahh, Oregon. The state I was the most excited about getting owing to the many weeks I've spent there. Home of Deschutes Beer. This state saw the introduction of logging companies and many new map assets, including a cavalcade of bridges - some of them swing bridges. The western side of the state is lush green valleys and woodlands, whilst the eastern side is high desert prairie. A chain of mountains and high hills intersects. Oregon is pretty beautiful, and a jump up for the game.

Lakeview to Pendleton - US 395 through US 20

A lovely, varied drive. Lakeview is a fun little town with houses under construction and a cheery cowboy sign but, bizarrely, like in real life no actual lakes. The 395 takes you up into the hills and past Lake Abert, and on to a junction with US 20 where Rileys Store sits. This is a store and archery shop in the middle of farmland emptiness akin to the Mid-West, with a picnic rest area for coaches. This is one of my favourite stops for photography in game. It's so... so... new-topographics! It looks just like the real place too. Passing through Burns you drive North to the unmarked town John Day, full of murals and curiosity shops. Then you head a short-space west past a pleasant park and community centre to Mt. Vernon, home to a gas station and odd little houses that look again just like in real life. This stretch to me is one of the most achingly reminiscent of real America and I'd say it's in my top five routes, easily. Further north and you hit Pendleton, a big town which I always seem to arrive in at night, listening to spooky podcasts by deep-voiced screwball Americans talking about the sasquatch and Moth-Man.

Bend to The Dalles - Route 97 - 197

A route I took myself, with lots of abandoned Oregon Trail frontier homes. Bend is built around a volcanic butte and is a lovely town beginning to suffer from sprawl owing to its growing tech industry. Just north of town is Smith State Rock, a national park where I helped relay instructions to base jumpers climbing to the submit and jumping off, and beyond that towards The Dalles Cabbage Hill, an interestingly sprawling truck stop intersection beside a wide river. (Just west of Bend on US-20 you can also see an array of metal statues showing a cowboy corralling a line of horses. This too, is in real life, and I saw it on the way from Bend to the beautiful mountain village of Sisters, which like the Three Sisters mountains is sadly missing from the game. As is Prineville with that crazy Random local Patrick 'Fucker' McGee I went on a bar crawl with.)


Portland to Astoria - US 30

A short but scenic route, this takes you to Astoria, which you may recognise from such movies as Short Circuit and The Goonies with its iconic bridge.

California Border - Medford - Eugene - US 199

One of the best roads in game, there always seems to be an atmospheric rainstorm when I drive this one. You enter through a town called (*chortle*) Weed on the CA border and head North. It's a series of green valleys and concrete highway that makes one of the most real-feeling runs in game. This was the route where rain poured down the windshield as Riders on the Storm by the Doors played on the in-game radio station. It was magical.

Washington State

Phew. We're getting there. Released last year Washington State seems to be the fan favourite at the moment. SCS seem justly proud of it indeed, dedicating videos and live-streams to its development. And good reason! This is an insanely detailed state, one which I've only explored about half of as I keep trying to max out the earlier states before moving on fully. Full of mountains and forests Washington has a significantly different feel to the other states in game. However I do feel it suffers a little - just a little - in that it feels a bit empty of traffic when I drive around Seattle as compared to other cities. This may be to help the frame-rate on older computers, as Seattle is one of the most realistic looking and advanced cities in the game, sandwiched up against Tacoma and Everett as it is, with a huge - huge - huge Boeing factory.

Seattle to Wenatchee - Interstate 90

A beautiful route that is at once a joy and a source of disappointment. This is the real-life route which houses the towns of North Bend and Snoqualmie, where Twin Peaks was filmed. I hyped myself up to believing I'd get to see the Double-R diner in game, Dear Meadow trailer park and the hotel at the waterfall. Sadly, no. Though the iconic waterfall and the peaks themselves are in the game. Still, it's a beautiful drive. All the roads now exist in game to drive Dale Cooper's fateful route at the end of Twin Peaks: The Return too.

Spokane to Grand Coulee - US 2

Oh gosh this one is a beauty. This takes you across a breathtakingly open rural landscape through a winding pass to Grand Coulee, where an incredible huge hydro-electric dam is located overlooking a small town. It's lit up at night and the area is faithfully represented in game. A lot of love went into this part of the map.

Longview to Yakima - US12

Very scenic road leading into Yakima, the highlight here being a side-road that will take you to Mount St. Helens. I had a chat in Oregon with a Native American telephone engineer who helped me find my way back into town after getting lost in a canyon. He told me how he saw the eruption of Mt. St. Helens back in '80, when he was working the lines on the outside of Portland. He told me how he could see on the horizon a vast plume of ash rising high into the sky. It was entirely silent and climbing rapidly. Scared the crap out him.

Utah

There's still much of Utah I have to explore, it only came out earlier this year so don't judge the brevity of this as an indication as to any lack of quality. I'm still unfamiliar with this state. That's the nice thing about the game. There's so much to explore! It'll be many months before you see it all, if ever! Utah is liked but was a little less well-received than Washington on account of its fewer roads. However as with all DLC maps SCS have been continuing to add to it, with a new road added just earlier this week linking Ely in Nevada to Salina in Utah.

Kayenta to Price - US 191

Interesting drive full of canyon-side twists and turns finally meeting desert plains and back up into the towns of Moab and Price. Keep an eye out on the right headed North for Hole 'n' the Rock, a tourist stop-over rock formation with rest area, campsite and cool graffiti and gecko sculpture.

Cedar City to Pioche - US-56

New road added this week linking Pioche in Nevada to Cedar City in Utah. I've only driven it the once but I was quite smitten with it.

Elko to Salt Lake City - Interstate 80

This road runs slap bang through the utterly massive salt flats that span over 50km in width in the real world. Considerably narrower in game, they are still an impressive sight. Keep an eye out for the Tree of Utah on the north side of the road.

St. George to Las Vegas - US-15

I've only driven this once but it's pretty cool. I think I just rather like these Death Valley type roads.

So, there you have my list. Man, I definitely got carried away there. I kinda love this game. The DLC maps are definitely, definitely worth it. You may as well buy them in bundle format as you end up saving money. It'll discount the amount of the base game you already have, or it did when I bought them anyway.

There's the West Coast Bundle. This includes Washington, Oregon and the Forest Machinery pack which is fun to have, but not essential. Then there's the Enchanted Bundle which has New Mexico, the Heavy Cargo Pack and the Steering Creations Pack. The Steering Creations Pack is just new wheels, basically. Pleasant but no need for it. However the Heavy Cargo Pack is excellent. It'll have you manhandling giant bulldozers, tarmac-pavers, sub-station transformers and massive tractors. For giant hauls an escort to clear the roads will be provided.

I say get both bundles and throw in the gorgeous Americana that is the Classic Stripes Paint Jobs pack for that old skool truckers feel.

If you feel like getting the states one by one in order, I recommend the following order...

For scenery...

Oregon - Washington - Utah - New Mexico

For route possibilities...

Utah - New Mexico - Oregon - Washington

Must have mods...

You don't really need much in the way of mods for this game, but the must-have in my opinion is the 'Immersive Icon Replacers' which replaces the glowing green floating icons with bits of litter on the ground so the illusion isn't broken and which also removes the dead-end barriers and arrow barriers, allowing you to drive anywhere so long as your DLC covers it and removes another ugly distraction.

Idaho is next, probably in the next month, followed by Colorado. I hope you enjoy your trucking, any questions just ask! Any of you fellow trucking Beexers have any favourite routes out there?

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:44 
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That's fantastic Pete thanks for so much detail :)

If you could share that config file for the radio stations I'd appreciate it, and I can start to prune the dead ones and also get together a favourites list of my own.

As it happens I put my first couple of skill points into Long Distance as it seemed an obvious choice for a truck driving game so all's good there.

Good to hear not much in the way of mods are required, as my experience with other games is that they can be a nightmare for getting broken when updates to the game are released. (World of Warcraft was a nightmare for that, with essential add-ons routinely being trashed every time Blizzard pushed an update to the game.)

I was looking at all the DLC on Steam last night and the entire lot (all the expansions plus trucks and cargoes and so on) comes to about £64, so might well just snaffle it all.

I shall resume my trucking adventure this evening, thanks again for all the info, more questions may well follow but I'll try to work stuff out for myself! :)

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:08 
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Nay worries! And I just remembered sometimes they have a sale when a new state drops, so you might want to hold off a few weeks until Idaho comes, though I think you'll find it cheaper than £64 anyway as they discount what you already have when you buy it - in this case the base game, so more like £34.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 14:53 
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I just added all the DLC to my cart on Steam and bought it, it didn't apply any discounts or suchlike but TBH it's all so reasonably priced I'd rather see the developers get more cash going their way.

Also I found this rather splendid looking radio playlist that was recently updated, over 230 tested stations listed by genre!

I'll give it a test drive (literally) this evening :)

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/ ... =975427716

(Rename extension to .sii - the forums won't allow .sii!)

Attachment:
live_streams.txt


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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 17:02 
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From my time there, if you're not sitting in traffic near Seattle, you're doing pretty well. Though maybe they've put it all on I5, which is where I sat, and sat, and you're avoiding it.

Such a fantastic landscape, I might be tempted to give this a go myself.


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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 17:09 
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You should check out Snowrunner if you get a bit jaded with this again, Pete. It's just you, alone in the wilderness delivering metal beams and logs literally inching along sometimes or occasionally getting completely stuck in the mud/snow. It's transcendental or else it's the sort of thing you can happily play whilst enjoying music or an audiobook.


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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 17:12 
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Didn't BBC4 do a slow TV special on that?


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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:14 
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I played this more last night and I'm kind of conflicted.

On the one hand there's a very real sense of wondering 'what am I actually doing here?', it's like, DOOM 2016 this is not.

And yet I cheerfully drove two long routes that took over two hours between them. I took out a loan to buy my own truck but due to level (and cash!) restrictions could only buy the 'starter truck' and to preserve funds took it in the basic white paint, which is rather dull. I do at least have my own truck in my own garage now though.

Due to fatigue on one of the routes I had to stop for a rest but took two rest cycles by accident instead of one and thus the delivery arrived late and I was docked some pay.

One thing that annoys me is you discover a new town/city and can see various things on the satnav map as you drive through, including question marks, which aren't revealed as you're charging through on the highway. What are you supposed to do in that situation? You're not going to leave the highway and awkwardly manoeuvre around city streets to reveal/discover things whilst on a timed delivery with a massive cargo hanging out of your arse, do you have to simply return with just the truck cab at a later date on your own time and dollar?

It'd be nice if there were some sort of 'car rental' option that allows you to take some time off work to go properly exploring new places you've found.

One thing I will say is the internet radio definitely makes it, without that the game would feel dreadfully empty, as it is though, hearing contemporary American news whilst tuned into a Classic 80s radio station lends the game a wonderfully authentic feel, driving through dark forest roads at 2am in the morning (game time) and 'Another Day In Paradise' plays on the radio, after a news segment about face masks and Coronavirus.

In truth there isn't much 'game' there in the traditional sense, but it's got its hooks into me regardless, outside of the fiddly driving in and out of the cargo depots, and around city/town roads, the vast majority of the driving on the open road is very basic stuff, and yet, enjoyable. Coming up to an accident on the highway that forces a diversion, as the inside of your cab twinkles with the reflected red/blue lights of the emergency services, and your GPS plots a new route down unknown roads, is strangely compelling.

I shall continue with my adventures this evening.

TECH BABBLE - The graphics are pretty nice but taxing on your system they are not, I'm running at native 4K with everything totally maxed out and the fans on my graphics card never spin up to make any more noise than my (very quiet) case fans do.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:38 
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It's really just about the pleasure of driving and seeing the sights in a variety of trucks. It's definitely not a game to grind at or that has any concrete point, though it is fun to run your own little trucking company and hire on staff and such I wish that side of things were a little more detailed. I just drive for the feeling that I'm someplace else. There's a sense of satisfaction too after completing a really long haul, but in the main you're not really working towards anything. Though my custom trucks look rather spiffing!

No need for car rental, just click the 'Drive' option between jobs and drive around in your truck. Regarding finding the question marks, I tend to make little deviations in my Sat-Nav to take them in, or after a job have a quick free cruise around the city hoovering them up before picking another job. And yes, the music radio is superb. It has a tremendous effect on the game.

What's your company name, by the way? Mine is, 'Leo Needs New Shoes' and I'm Leo Johnson. This being an alternate Twin Peaks reality where trucker Leo Johnson is a nice guy making helpful deliveries instead of a drug-dealing short-tempered pony-tailed wife-beater. My Euro Truck Simulator trucker is Long Distance Clara from Pigeon Street.

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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:48 
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NervousPete wrote:
My Euro Truck Simulator trucker is Long Distance Clara from Pigeon Street.


One of my first crushes!


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 Post subject: Re: American Truck Simulator Review
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:09 
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Findus Fop wrote:
NervousPete wrote:
My Euro Truck Simulator trucker is Long Distance Clara from Pigeon Street.


One of my first crushes!


:luv:

There's a portrait of a lass in Euro Truck and American Truck who seems to fit the bill. :)

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