Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a simple game. Based on the premise that the player’s dream job has always been to drive a big rig – it lets you drive one (or a few, or a few dozen depending on your earnings). That’s it. There are no weapons, there’s no murder, mayhem or mischief. Now, assuming that it ISN’T your dream job, you might think there’s nothing here for the average gamer. But not so fast. Because ETS2 is somehow a lot more than the sum of its parts and actually manages to be an engaging and enjoyable experience.
Players begin with basically zip. No truck, barely any money, and shell of a garage as a home base. There’s a tutorial for new players to teach you the basics, and after that you’re on your own to figure out how to start accumulating some cash and building your reputation as a driver. Your first drive is less than 1km and takes just a minute, but that first drive will let you know pretty fast if this game is going to be of interest.
The trick is, ETS2 actually makes you feel like you’re driving the rig. It’s HUGE, the road seems small, and its somewhat cumbersome. It’s slow. It sounds like a real truck. Its at this moment that the appeal starts to become clear. After all, we all wanted to drive a big rig when we were 12, didnt we?
To begin earning both cash and reputation, drivers need to take on jobs for companies that also provide the truck for the delivery. Once the job is taken, the player is moved to the location and put in the truck, and must deliver the load to the designated recipient. The on-board GPS makes this task fairly straightforward. The deliveries do not, unfortunately, take place in real time. A cross country trip is reduced to less than an hour.
Once a player has accumulated enough cash, whether outright or through a bank loan, a number of trucks can be purchased. These trucks can be upgraded in various ways, from customized nameplates to new wheels to a whole new engine. Larger upgrades are limited by the player’s level, adding a bit of an RPG element to the gameplay. This is surprisingly motivational – that big Volvo with the sleeper and 700 horsepower engine is enough of a carrot to keep me wanting to play.
Cash also allows the player to not only purchase new vehicles, but also hire drivers to operate them. This may or may not be appealing to the player. It does add some depth and an opportunity to make more cash, but some may find it a distraction from simply driving themselves. There is, fortunately, no pressure from the game to do this, and you may choose to completely ignore this option altogether. It’s well implemented and there are numerous drivers for hire, each with their own abilities.
One of the best features of this game is actually the in-game radio. Players may choose to create their own playslists from MP3 files, or stream from dozens upon dozens of European radio stations, some with a focus on mainstream American music, and many with some truly obscure and interesting tracks. For music lovers, just listening to an almost endless variety of new music may be enough to make that drive from Poland to Great Britain worth it. As a personal recommendation check out the Dubplate.fm Urban Electro station. It really makes the miles go by pretty quickly.
All in all, there is very little to complain about in this game. It’s simple, can be relaxing and quite enjoyable. The demo is free on Steam and is long enough to allow a player to decide if their dream job really IS to be a truck driver.