The Amazing & Astonishing RPS Advent Calendar: Day 11

By RPS on December 11th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

There are many sights to see through this next door, which is the start of a very long journey indeed. If it snows, we’ll stop at the side of the road and watch the lights going by while the world sleeps. But always remember – business before pleasure.

It’s Euro Truck Simulator 2!

Adam:

When I started playing Euro Truck Simulator 2, at the beginning of the year, it was an affectation. A lesser man may have grown a comedy moustache, begun to take snuff or chosen to perform his commute atop a wobbling unicycle, but I decided that I’d spend my nights transporting freight across Europe.

The first time I approached the cab, I was smirking just a little. I had no intention of mocking Euro Truck Simulator 2 but I couldn’t quite take myself or the game seriously as the menu music pumped into the room, as if from the elevator in a German supermarket circa 1992. I played for six hours that first night and wrote my personal favourites of all the many paragraphs I’ve published on RPS this year. I also spoke about the game recently, at length and excitedly, on the Not A Game podcast.

Euro Truck Simulator tapped into my imagination and memories in a way that few games ever have. It’s hard to say why. I’ve never been particularly interested in haulage, preferring my romance with the road to allow for careless deviations and unplanned rest stops. There’s a whole business aspect to the game that I haven’t even touched – I just take jobs as they come, working my way from city to city and travelling as far as possible in a day.

Sometimes I wish the world were bigger, although the condensed continent prevents the game from becoming tedious. Maybe I just want more variety, and I occasionally shudder when I consider the possibility of a procedurally generated environment for a game of this sort. I’d drown in it, sucking up the fumes of a thousand traffic jams and grumbling depots.

Mostly, I find Euro Truck Simulator relaxing. I love that I can tune the radio into local stations, in realtime, listening to the music that actual people are listening to along with me. It’s one of those rare moments when the world and a fiction elide in an uncanny fashion, oddly reminiscent of the ethereal multiplayer elements in Dark Souls or Journey.

Ever found yourself driving on a motorway, making accidental companions of other vehicles that remain alongside from junction to junction? Do they eventually take on characters and do you idly dream up lives for the people within them? If so, or if you’ve ever hit the road at night with nowhere to go and no real reason to come back again, then this is the game for you.

Graham:

I made the decision a couple of years ago: I’m going to get into simulation games. I’d dabbled before – Craig and I once had a dalliance with a Bus Driver – but I think it was X-Plane that first threw me into freefall. The flight sim is developed almost entirely by a single person and comes on eight DVDs. How could you not want to be a part of that?

My adventures in the genre grew from there. I got a flight stick, I played City Car Driving, and eventually I clambered into the cab of Euro Truck Simulator 2. Like Adam, I’ve never had any particular fascination with freight, a childhood love for Challenge Anneka‘s house-truck aside. What I like, it turns out, is travelling and looking out of windows.

As someone who can’t drive, I’m happy to rely on games for those experiences: the fluidity and precision of changing lanes and carrying out turn signals; the sense of progress as you chew up scenery on your urgent journeys across Europe; the peaceful sight of hot air balloons hovering on the horizon and craning your head to look.

This all sounds dreadfully uncool, but I have three things that might convince you to give it a try.

If the banality of driving seems somehow ungamelike, then feel comforted that Euro Truck Simulator 2 is judging you at every turn. The jobs you’re given have a fee and that fee disappears with every scuff and fender bender you make on your journey. You then need to spend part of the money to re-fuel and choose another job as part of the game’s dynamic economy, and if you desire, save up to expand your business empire. There’s a sense of strategy gaming and RPG progression to ETS. It’s a game.

If trucks and traffic laws still seem like a dads-in-sweaters kind of pastime – you’ll paint skaven, but not model trains – then I’d point you gently in the direction of the growing number of ambulatory indie experiences. Proteus and Dear Esther’s calming, exploratory joys aren’t so different from Euro Truck’s. SCS Software’s vehicular sim simply replaces hooting-dooting flowers and maudlin monologues with car crashes. Your dad’s having more fun.

Lastly, and I appreciate this isn’t relevant to you just yet, but I’d point you towards ETS2’s virtual reality future. I’ve played a lot of games with the Oculus Rift headset, and even in this early alpha state Euro Truck Simulator suits the tech more than most. You’re going to be stuck in a traffic jam outside of Southampton sooner or later. You might as well start practicing now.

Back to the Calendar!

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75 Comments »

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  1. Yosharian says:

    Seriously?

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    c-Row says:

    So it has come to this.

  3. rustybroomhandle says:

    Yay, good choice. Lovely game.

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    Goodtwist says:

    OK, if RPS doesn’t find Wargame: AirLand Battle worth of including in their advent calender then I’m seriously questioning their gaming criteria.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Did we even get a proper WiT of the game? I can’t remember.

      • EOT says:

        Sadly, no. I don’t think we got an EE one either.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Indeed, though there has been coverage of sorts. WALB is such a good game, but I am terrified of it. Like sort of running into a very cold sea and then running away again when a big wave comes at you type scared. I may play it again tonight, but will probably run off again.

    • slubberman says:

      Sadly, it seems to be forever lost and ignored by gaming journalism at large. It sucks because in ALB they really have upped the ante in regards to features and balance.

      Hovever I think the game is really hurt by the focus on the multiplayer.

      I actually find myself using more time on the ALB forums and the Deck creator than the actual game, because singleplayer lacks the storytelling and atmosphere that could bring me in to the world of the Cold War, and multiplayer is a place you go to get your ass kicked..

      Don’t get me wrong, I love the game despite it all (all those units!/dat zoom!/NAPALM!), and I am looking forward to Wargame: Red Dragon!

    • Vinraith says:

      Probably my favorite game of this year, it’s a Cold War successor to my beloved Close Combat games in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, RPS just doesn’t cover much in the way of strategy these days.

      And for the record, I adore the single player. The AI is strong, and the dynamic campaign is exactly what I want in a strategy campaign. Not someone else’s predefined story that I have to play through, where failure means reloading, but a proper strategic context for a narrative to unfold on its own, where success and failure have actual meaning. RTS’s never seem to do these kinds of campaigns anymore, and it’s why I almost never play RTS’s anymore. Airland was a real breath of fresh air.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Yeah, why werent the eugen games covered? What a true shame. They are excellent strategy games. A salute to the unsung hero! HUT!

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    DrScuttles says:

    This is one of the games I find shockingly perfect to play whilst either listening to a podcast or the soft, reassuring tones of a Paul McGann Doctor Who audio play. It’s like a Euro Comfort Blanket Truck Simulation or something.

    This all sounds dreadfully uncool

    Yeah, I’m probably not helping.

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    melnificent says:

    Great game, and one of those that really is fun for all ages.

  7. qrter says:

    An elevator in a supermarket? Adam’s really lost it, this time.

    • Adam Smith says:

      I WAS THINKING OF A DEPARTMENT STORE

      • AbyssUK says:

        It’s OK Adam I’ve been to many supermarkets here in Germany with lifts and terrible lift music, I understood perfectly!

      • Sigh says:

        Now Adam is screaming.

        Take a moment and imagine Adam standing in a crosswalk with traffic swooshing past. With spittle-flecked lips he screams, at no one in particular, “I WAS THINKING OF A DEPARTMENT STORE!” People look up briefly with worried expressions as they tell their children to keep moving. Adam then mock brushes off his jacket, looks over his shoulder, and starts slowly shuffling away.

    • Williz says:

      There’s one in mine, it’s for those with legs that don;t work real good so they can get to the cafe.

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    quietone says:

    A real underdog, and rightfully deserves its place in the calendar.

  9. Germanicus says:

    Needs some Space Truckin.

  10. sleepisthebrotherofdeath says:

    I don’t understand anything anymore

  11. Pemptus says:

    The story of getting into this game is almost universal: “I’ll just play as a joke and see what happen- OH GOD I’VE BEEN HAULING CRAP FOR 7 HOURS STRAIGHT?”
    This is a legitimately good game and everyone who thinks this is one of those shovelware “simulator” fad titles (and rightfully so) should give it a chance.

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      quietone says:

      Sí, señor.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Not buying it has been my only defence against not playing it for far, far longer than I should, because the demo eventually says “that’s enough, you cheapskate”.

      Thank you, demo. You freed me from the hypnotic windscreen wipers, as Eddit Rabbitt sings about rainy nights.

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    oceanclub says:

    Tried the demo. Quit in embarrassment 10 minutes later as I had failed to reverse the truck out of its starting spot.

    P.

  13. Solastus says:

    I can’t help but think of this song for all you Euro Truck drivers:

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    blind_boy_grunt says:

    best game i ever played about that feeling adam talks about (here and his review) is:
    http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/2008/12/07/final-entry-night-cruising/
    it feels like actual driving at night, which means, monotonous. But the game somehow makes it, maybe not fun but something i still remember (and the link tells me it’s been a couple of years).

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    Saul says:

    I have to say that I am a little astonished by this choice, and so your advent calendar is living up to its name. But I am also pleased that end-of-year lists in general are continuing to move away from being composed purely of “gamer games”. Bravo!

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      I’d argue this was, very much, a “gamer” game. What the list is moving away from is the predicable popularity contest type lists, where the 10 “best” games also happen to be the 10 best selling games.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’s pretty much classic PC gaming, yes; the somehat bizzare sim is one of Real Computers With Keyboards’ longest gaming traditions, even before the damniable 486en crushed the 16-bit era.

        What it is not is a dudebro gamer game.

  16. Geebs says:

    Are we allowed to call fans of this game “Truckies”?

  17. derbefrier says:

    What is this madness. PC gamers are funny.

  18. PopeRatzo says:

    Games that are just like working for people who don’t work,

    21st Century schizoid man.

  19. Fetthesten says:

    Did anyone ever consider that maybe, just maybe, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a highly sophisticated trailer remote control system, disguised as a game? Thousands of long-distance drivers across Europe are made redundant as the ignorant PC gaming public not only do their job for free; they pay for the privilege. You monsters.

    • dE says:

      So… in that case… I’m at fault for the traffic jams on the A1, the A3 and perhaps a multitude of other roads. Oh god world, I’m sorry.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I overtook another trucker at a 2mph speed difference, uphill.

        I don’t think I can live with this shame any more.

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          jrodman says:

          You should see the atrocities I have committed to deal with traffic jams.

          I have driven on the sidebanks of underpasses, raced down sidewalks in major cities, and bodily shoved cars out of intersections that seemed to have frozen in indecision for minutes. Really I’m surprised I haven’t seen the police cars yet.

          Oh, and how to deal with attempting to pass too aggressively in a 2-lane road? When you see oncoming traffic, just cut off whoever you were trying to pass. They’ll stop.

    • realitysconcierge says:

      The ender’s game of our society.

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    Jackablade says:

    My, think of the odds that one would have had on the RPS Advent Calendar sweepstakes. Could have retired on the winnings off a couple of dollar bet.

  21. Turkey says:

    Awesome. You guys stop with the honorable mentions when there’s 10 days left, right?

  22. Timberwolf says:

    For me it seems to fire many of the same synapses as Elite and its Frontier spawn, or at least the large part of those games that involved hauling crap around between star systems to slowly upgrade your vessel. I’m wondering whether you could therefore make Euro Truck Simulator the best game of all time by adding pirate trucks, bounties, and perhaps anarchic sectors of the West Midlands to find them in.

  23. ucfalumknight says:

    I purchased this because of Adam’s praise. And I must thank you Adam for it. As a Yank, never having been to Europe, I am half tourist, half trucker as I cruise through the country side. I absolutely love the real-time radio (Even if I am driving at 6 pm my time and listening to the overnight shows on the radio).
    SCS is also VERY mod friendly, recently announcing they were going to release modding tools for Blender because of it’s open source freeness (though it has angered some 3ds max users). All in all a 5 star game!

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      jrodman says:

      I think they said they’re releasing tools for blender because they use blender.
      I don’t see how 3ds max fans can be upset about that. It will only make it easier for them to make their own tools if they want.

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    drewski says:

    I’m so happy I don’t have time to play this and am therefore not even remotely tempted. Because I’d probably really like it.

  25. beauwyselaskie says:

    Abby. although Denise`s story is flabbergasting… on wednesday I got themselves a Land Rover Defender from bringing in $9333 this last month an would you believe ten-grand this past month. it’s by-far the most-comfortable job I’ve ever had. I started this 9-months ago and pretty much straight away startad earning over $87… p/h.
    try here……. http://goo.gl/iITlPP

  26. DrManhatten says:

    Really? Well I haven’t been thrilled by most of the choices so far but this one is really the absolute zero point. This game is soo boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooring. If it at least had accurate road maps

  27. TheBarringGaffner says:

    The driving in ETS is probably my favorite kind of exploration in any game. It reminds me a lot of Morrowind’s long walks between locations, but turned into a full game.

  28. fencenswitschen says:

    It has been a while that I played a game the night through literally. You totally are responsible for this.

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    jrodman says:

    I think this may be my Game of the Year.