Recently some members of our Discord have been getting into Euro Truck Simulator 2 which despite having over 200+ hours in the game, I hadn’t played since I was in my first year of College around 3 years ago. With this rise in interest, I decided to reinstall the game again, grab the latest Iberia and Road to The Black Sea DLC and hit the road.
SCS Software’s Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a straightforward concept as any simulator game is. Your goal is to drive your truck delivering various things from pallets, petrol, grains, cars and diggers to many cities throughout Central Europe, the UK and beyond with several DLCs. On paper, this seems very dull as you’re just driving with the most action being ploughing through a family of 4 going the wrong way down a slip road, or disabling the speed limiter and giving it the full send from Helsinki to Madrid which often always leads to an incident with a toll booth. Of course, doing both of those things can be fun but not doing those things and following the speed limit is also surprisingly enjoyable.
When you look at gaming it is often viewed as an escape from reality which places simulators into a strange place as you are playing a job with no pay and for your own enjoyment. You’re simulating something that someone does to make a living and in many cases, they wouldn’t find it “fun”. I wouldn’t want a game simulating writing articles or doing the home shop picking at Tesco, although if it was scored for knocking down customers or arguing with the elderly I’d be topping the leaderboard.
Trucking however is a different kind of job to those two and often a dream job for many with Euro Truck Sim acting as a great way to enjoy that dream before they achieve their HGV licence. Interestingly even after getting into their career as a trucker, some such as this one will happily still play ETS 2 despite the average person who would play games to forget about work, I guess this is what happens when you love your job. So this is all well and good for Truckers and dreamers, but for those like myself who’ve never thought about trucking as a career choice or even dreamed of being a trucker, why do we enjoy the game?
So what makes this driving employment simulator so enjoyable? Well, I’ll break it up into two categories relaxation and exploration starting with the former. If you’ve read my articles surrounding Power Wash Simulator, you’ll know I’m quite fond of the simple and uncompetitive nature of the game. I enjoy just being able to kick back and not think too much about what I’m doing and get that neuron activation from removing dirt. Driving about and doing deliveries doesn’t require much thinking beyond steer, don’t crash and don’t speed (optional) which makes it very easy to enjoy. Just put on some music through your favourite method of listening or use the Truckers FM, and then hit the road until you lose track of time.
The overall experience is significantly heightened when you use a steering wheel, I am using the Thrustmaster TMX with the T3PA Pedal Set (Included with TMX Pro) and the newly released TH8S Shifter which is just $59.99, much cheaper than the more premium TH8A shifter, and perfect for those on a budget. Sitting behind a wheel is just so much more engaging than a controller or keyboard, it allows you to lean back a bit rather than hunching over a keyboard. A steering wheel also allows for more accurate mobility and control which extends to a controller as well which is a good middle ground if you can’t get yourself a wheel.
When using a steering wheel you will notice the difficulty in looking around when approaching a junction or doing maneuvers which is where your webcam comes in. By using your webcam you can transform the game further by implementing head tracking allowing you to look around without touching your mouse. A full tutorial for using your webcam as a head tracker is available at the truckersmp forums, a large-scale multiplayer mod for the game which is another option alongside the convoy mode that the game provides.
Exploration is the second key part that makes the game enjoyable, especially as ETS 2 is probably one of the very few driving sims that offer a causal driving experience with such a large-scale map with the added bonus of high-quality graphics. ETS 2 launched in 2012 with a map that covered Germany, Britain, Eastern France and Austria just to name a few. This map has only had small updates since its release meaning it looks a bit rough compared to the more recent DLC maps. The good news is that the base map has been getting some free reworks from the SCS team over the past few years, most notably in Germany and Austria where they’ve done an incredible job of the Alps. The goal of these reworks is to bring the 2012 map up to scratch with the DLC maps which offer something pretty to look at with unique roads to drive on.
To enjoy ETS 2 to the fullest, I advise grabbing the DLC maps through the Map Booster bundle (Iberia is Separate from this bundle). The first of these DLC maps was Going East which was released in 2013 just a year after the original release of the game meaning it does suffer from being outdated compared to the more modern DLCs. All the DLCs which followed; Scandinavia, Vive La France, Italia, Beyond the Baltic Sea, Road to the Black Sea and Iberia all hold up much better. These maps offer a much more interesting driving experience than the base game as each area offers its own unique look making every drive interesting and refreshing. If you plan on sinking a lot of hours into ETS 2 these DLCs are worth grabbing especially because of my next point which is map mods.
The Euro Truck Sim community is very dedicated and there are many map mods that are available to further enhance your experience although most of them do require the DLCs for road connections and for the unique assets each DLC provides. Of these map mods, the most notable and essential is ProMods, which opens up a lot of the map. ProMods is a map mod created by a large team of modders which provides many reworks to the map most notably the UK which it does an outstanding job of and truly feels like home. Promods also adds various other countries including Iceland, Ireland, the rest of Finland, Norway, Sweden, many Balkan countries and even the Middle East and Kazakhstan. Promods is incredible, the new landscapes it offers and the ones it rebuilds make it essential for the best ETS 2 experience. ProMods is also offered with American Truck Simulator and expands the map into Canada though I haven’t personally tried it.
Once you’ve installed ProMods there is even more that you can add on courtesy of other modding teams. I use a lot of map mods which have allowed me to travel to Russia with RusMap, and Russian Open Spaces, Ukraine and Turkey with ROEX, and even as far as Indonesia and Korea with Java Road Revolution and Road to Asia. You’d be forgiven for thinking that these modded maps are probably low quality but you would be dead wrong. These maps, at least the ones I’ve been using, look just as good as some of the DLC maps and in most cases better than the base game map.
On top of expanding the base game map, you can also get maps that offer a completely new experience including Project Japan, team of modders creating a map of Japan which is very detailed and any fans of Japan would enjoy. Paris 1:1 is a 1:1 recreation of Paris providing some difficult city roads to navigate, this map is quite heavy and I did struggle to play without assets and roads vanishing even after altering the buffer size in the config. Besides those issues, it is a very unique map. Finally a personal favourite, Grand Utopia, an entirely fictional French island which provides some very unique and fun roads with gorgeous scenery.
If you would like to check out some mods for yourself the best place to grab them is from the Promods Forums or SCS forums as they are more likely to be from the official author than on other mod sites. As always download mods at your own risk and exercise caution on the download links. If you want an ideal and compatible collection, check out the ProMods recommended compatible maps. There are a lot of maps you can add to this list although there are some hoops to jump through for compatibility with the load orders and road connections for other maps.
After cracking out over 70 additional hours into the game over the past month, I felt like a bit of a ramble was in order. ETS 2 is a strangely brilliant game that is great for a casual gamer who just wants something calm to play with very little setup, aside from plugging in the steering wheel, shifter, webcam, and setting up the face tracking software. Ok, it is a bit of a faff but it’s worth it for that unique thrill of freely driving through Europe by yourself, in a convoy of friends or with hundreds of others in TruckersMP.
ETS 2 is available on Steam for £16.99 or if you’re more interested in the US, American Truck Simulator is also available for £16.89 and whilst I haven’t played it, likely echoes many of the sentiments I’ve mentioned here.
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