On the one hand, I do like the sound of a truck-driving game that, so we're told, focuses more on the aesthetic appeal of a multi-tonne road trip than it does the simulatory side of hauling a big rig around. On the other, pretty much my favourite thing to do in American Truck Simulator is to flick the wipers on it when it rains and dip the headlights when there's oncoming traffic.
I just hope that upcoming rival Truck Driver, whatever poppier take on long-distance haulage it has planned, doesn't throw too many dashboard babies out with the suspension calibration and trailer manufacturer bathwater.
Truck Driver's announcement nakedly tries to appeal to people who dig driving games but don't particularly care about vehicles, which very much includes me. "By valuing the ‘game’ aspects over the ‘simulation’ aspects, SOEDESCO aspires to bring the fun-factor back into the trucking genre" is a phrase from its press release which initially appeals because I really don't want to have to think about carburettors, before I remember that none of the simulation aspects of American Truck Simulator every really got in my way anyway.
I guess I worry that an active pursuit of "fun" as opposed to "unpressured driving" could backfire, but maybe I'm simply being conservative and holding too fast to what I know.
What does sound interesting is the promise of a campaign mode that isn't simply about hauling goods from A to B, but rather about building relationships within the local community and your own truck-driving career. I do think that there's a bit of a gap, in the SCS Truck Simulator games, between going on journeys yourself and hiring a bunch of AI drivers to automatically accrue cash for you, and I'm curious to discover how this realises the space in between newbie driver and boss.
Truck Driver hails from Triangle Studios, who last year attempted to do something similar with farming sims - i.e. strip away the coldly simulatory complexities in favour of 'immersion'. It doesn't look like that went down too well, according to the 'mostly negative' review average on Steam.
They claim that Truck Driver, the second game they're publishing with Sodesco, will learn from the lessons of that game, but clearly they're going to have knock a lot of socks off if I'm going to even consider uninstalling American Truck Sim. It does look prettier than the stark lighting and boxy trees of SCS' game, but atmosphere is about so much more than mere graphics.
Truck Driver has no specified release date beyond 'coming soon', and it'll start off in early access. There's a Steam page for wish-listing here.