American Truck Simulator - Review
Drive a Big Rig
Bottom Line: If you don't own a Trucking Simulator I recommend either American Truck Simulator or Euro Truck Simulator both available on Steam for a modest $19.00 or less.
American Truck Simulator's initial release was in 2016, following the popular Euro Truck Simulator release in 2008, now Euro Truck Simulator 2. Euro Truck Simulator has a large cult following of Truck Driver enthusiasts. When American Truck Simulator was released in 2016, it was the American version of the Euro Truck Simulator, but the American version was lacking content. Over the years, that has all changed.
2020 was an outstanding year for both American and Euro Truck Simulators, both seeing additional content from the developer SCS Software with the most important game content being version 1.39 update, featuring improved FMOD sounds, new maps Idaho and Colorado, and improvements overall with several bug fixes. To say the least American Truck Simulator keeps getting better and better and this is a true indication the developers at SCS are committed to delivering the best in a Truck Simulator -This is the best $19.00 I have ever spent on a game.
What's to like about American Truck Simulator? Quite frankly, a lot. The game starts with you establishing your first Garage, which you can choose from any of the map locations, I went with the Flagstaff AZ location as my headquarters since it was somewhat centrally located. When you first start you only have about $2,000, so you will need to do some quick jobs by driving for other companies using their trucks and trailers. American Truck Simulator is an open-world game which allows the player to freely roam/drive from place to place picking up jobs along the way in each city you visit or eventually buy yourself a truck driving for yourself making more money which if you like will allow you to eventually buy a second truck for your garage and hire a driver that works for you. Wash rinse repeat and you will "if you choose" have a fleet of trucks with several drivers all making bank for you, and if you don't want to spend hours driving and saving up to buy your first truck you can take a bank loan out to get your trucking business set up in short order.
Buying Trucks: This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game - however, you will need to "discover" dealerships before you can visit the dealer and buy a truck. In American Truck Simulator, there are five available trucks: Peterbilt, International, Kenworth, Volvo, and Mack. The dealerships are scattered about the map. Once at the dealership you have many options to customize your truck with chassis, transmissions, accessories both inside and out as well as tires and wheels + paint jobs.
Driving: By default, which you have the option to turn off if you so choose, you will become tired after several hours on the road and will need to pull in to get some sleep. Also, your vehicle and trailer/goods can become damaged if your driving skills are a bit off, and don't forget speeding tickers or fines for different traffic violations such as running a red light.
Overall American Truck Simulator is an engaging game that will keep you entertained for hours, especially as SCS Software publishes new maps to explore or new updates bringing improvements to the overall gameplay.
MODS: American Truck Simulator is an open game that allows almost anyone with the necessary skills to develop mods for the game. What are mods? Mods are files that add or change the behavior or add additional content of the game, be it simple paint schemes, sounds, graphic enhancements, or even new maps. Be advised all mods are not created equally. Adding a mod to your game comes with risk because SCS software may release an official update that will break the 3rd party mod and cause the game to crash leaving you with the option of waiting on the 3rd party developer to update the mod or you can simply remove the mod. Removing the mod will cause you to lose some game playtime as the game will force you to load a previous save point. So -MODs are fun but come with risk - choose them wisely. Where do you get mods? you can google MODs for ATS, and you will find them - a lot of the download sites try to force you to install other software to get the mod - I advise you to steer clear of these sites. Another location for mods is via Steam Community Workshop, which is an excellent place to pick up mods. Once you subscribe to the mod, it is added automatically to your game for you to activate in the mod manager + when the 3rd party developer updates the mod is automatically updated in your game. You manage your mods using MOD Manager, an in-game feature that is located on the initial profile screen when the game launches. Map MODS adds more driving locations and in my opinion, PRO MODS is one of the best. PRO MODS latest release opens up Canada, North of Washington State.
In GamePlay: American Truck Simulator features realistic roads, signage as well as day/night cycles not to mention the occasional rainy weather. Along your journeys, you may even come across road crews busy at work or even accidents forcing you to make a detour. Speaking of detours ATS comes with an in-game assistant that features GPS navigation, as well as status for how long the journey will take + shows any damage if you have mishaps.
What if you already own Euro Truck Simulator? I can recommend buying also the American Truck Simulator as well now that SCS Software has released new maps and the FMOD update in version 1.37. The biggest difference in Euro vs American Truck Simulator is content and Maps with Euro Truck Simulator having more since it has been out much longer. The American Truck Simulator has to its benefits the bigger 18 wheelers and those wide-open roads proving a sense of space as you roll along.
Controls: American Truck Simulator features an easy-to-use menu where you can map commands to your favorite gaming devices or if you are lacking you can manage using the keyboard but I would recommend if your budget allows a Wheel, Shifter, and set of pedals to have the best game immersion. Me personally I use Fanatic Direct Drive, Fanatic Pedals, and a DSD Button Box which allows me the enjoyment of driving and making inputs with little use of the keyboard. I also use a Fanatic wheel that also gives me about 20 inputs at my fingertips to roll the windows up and down or even tune the radio to my favorite stations - all without touching the keyboard.
Recommendation: I can and do recommend American Truck Simulator for many enjoyable hours of gaming.