I bought this and have put a couple of hours into it, I like it very much so far.
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 Of the base maps is the weakest, being somewhat inaccurate with outdated incorrect freeway junctions and not as good detailing.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.
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...
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...
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?