American Truck Simulator
This game, only $20, gives you a pretty realistic representation of what it’s like to drive a big rig around Nevada, California, and Arizona. Although this review is based only three runs runs: Reno to Truckee, and Reno to San Rafael, and San Rafael to Huron. On the first run I damaged the truck a little getting out of the loading dock (the hardest part of the game). On the third run, I ran the truck off the road and got stuck, and had to call for assistance.
Graphics look great with my Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti videocard and a 2560×1440 monitor.
I’m using an Xbox 360 wireless controller for PC to control the truck. Steering is very fussy using the left joystick of the controller. The game has sensitivity settings for the steering; I adjusted it down and I think that helped a little with the steering.
The game is in 1:20 scale, so a 5 hour drive in the real world only takes 20 minutes in the game. And yes, 95% of the world is missing, so it’s only a simulated experience and not the real thing. Furthermore you are only allowed to drive on designated roads; you can’t wander around on the side streets because they don’t even exist.
It’s a much more mellow game than Overwatch, no one is trying to kill you. I didn’t even get a traffic ticket for not being able to stay in my lane and for accidentally turning the wrong way down a one-way street. I hear that this game is popular with older men.
The unrealistic part of this game is not the graphics or how the truck operates, but the fact that driving a truck is very profitable. Even though I drove the truck off the road, I still got paid handsomely for the run. Maybe in the past driving a truck was a decent middle class job (my grandfather drove a milk delivery truck in New York City), but today driving a truck is very low paid work, and someone who drives the truck off the road won’t get a job again. In the near future there will be self-driving trucks, and all truck drivers will be out of work.
In the screenshot above, I’m heading for Santa Maria, CA. It’s dawn. There’s a very light rain, so my windshield wipers are on. There are three “cheat” elements displayed: the left and right rear-view mirrors on the upper left and upper right, and the GPS display on the lower right (which also has other useful info like your speed and gas tank level). You can turn those off for a more natural experience, and then you have to use the right joystick on the Xbox game controller to look around at your mirrors, but the game is hard enough without also having to deal with that. Also, you’ll have to use the smaller in-dash GPS that’s to the right of the steering wheel.
And now I’ve just gotten off the highway at Santa Maria.