I gotta ask, what's good about the truck simulator games? Is it basically like a long-distance driving sim, and you're mainly driving on highways? Doesn't that get boring? Should I be thinking of this as a "flight simulator on the road" ? Or what kind of games are these exactly?
Yeah, I was surprised by how engaging I found it. It's a driving sim, but not a racing
sim. It's a relaxed game, and maneuvering the big truck is the 'challenge', if there is any challenge at all. I actually prefer Euro Truck 2 to American Truck, precisely because the roads in Europe are so often the old-style, narrow, winding roads that are more interesting to drive. The American interstate system built in the '50s is those 6-lane highways that just go straight for miles and miles. Kind of boring. (You don't have
to use those. You can choose to use the old pre-'50s highways and surface roads if you want to, but if you're supposed to deliver a trailer from Los Angeles to Seattle by a certain time, taking the scenic route doubles your driving time. That's why they built those long, straight interstates in the first place.)
You can also choose how complex you want the driving sim to be. The basic "arcade" controls are just the steering wheel, the gas pedal and the brake pedal. The next degree of control makes you use the 12-to-18 speed gear shift manually. You can go all the way up to close-to-realistic, where you have manual control of the engine brake, the engine ******er, the differential lock, and the trailer brake, if it has one. You can also increase the difficulty by taking jobs that pull two trailers at once, or an articulated trailer, or a super-heavy or extra-wide cargo. Moving a 60-ton industrial heat exchanger on the winding roads between France and Switzerland was one of the most stressful gaming experiences of recent memory. If you're a madman or you just have several hundred dollars to burn, the game supports a driving wheel, foot pedals, a manual gear shift, and multiple displays (I'm not sure if these games have been optimized for ultra-wide displays or VR yet, but they'd be well-suited to either).
But a lot of the game is just leisurely driving around, listening to the radio, and looking at the scenery. They've mapped Europe from Ireland to Russia, and are making their way across the United States, from West to East. (They also continually go back and update old maps. They redid France a couple of years ago, and recently redid California.) The game's map isn't real-life perfect. The timeframe is compressed - Fresno to Las Vegas is about a 6-hour drive, irl, but it's 20 minutes in the game - so the map has to be compressed accordingly. And the map only has roads that trucks would drive, so you'll drive past a lot of things you can't access.