Firstly apologies for the delay in getting this one out, but in usual Christmas tradition (for me at least), I received the one gift, nobody wants to receive and no I’m not talking about socks! I got the flu!
I’m a huge fan of the Truck Sim series of games. One of the most appealing things to me about simulator games is the ability to do things you wouldn’t be able to do or necessarily want to do in everyday life.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 (referred to as ETS 2 throughout the article) from SCS Software ticks so many boxes for me, It’s relaxing, enjoyable and as challenging as you want it to be.
The original game itself released seven years ago! It still looks fresh, it still drives well and every year we’re treated to 1-2 map expansions plus patches that introduce more free content, “delivering” even more value for money!
On the surface, ETS 2 has you delivering cargo from point a to point b, you’re scored on your ability to reach the destination on time and without damaging your cargo. But, once you get into it, it opens up to so much more.
You can deliver fragile cargo, overweight or oversized cargo, you can choose to just drop and run when you reach your destination or take on the challenge of some fairly awkward parking manoeuvres.
You can choose to stick to the planned route or take a more scenic one, they’ve even recently added randomised road closures and diversions to really test your navigation and driving skills.
When picking your jobs, you can choose to stay as a driver for hire or take the plunge starting your very own haulage company taking on multiple vehicles, drivers and depots. The game really is as closed or as open as you wish it to be.
Enough of my fanboying let’s see what the latest map expansion, Road to the Black Sea, (which released on 5th December 2019) adds to the game.
The new Road to the Black Sea DLC adds over 10,000km of extra roads to drive your truck upon. There are 22 new companies to drive for and 11 new company docks and industries to deliver to and from.
Two of my favourite new features to arrive with this DLC are new detailed border crossings and a river crossing by ferry.
No longer do you just drive past some flags, or stop at a tollgate. You now have to drive through a series of checkpoints where your papers are checked, at any time you may be asked to pull to one side and enter an x-ray building, or even enter a building where your vehicle is examined with trained dogs!
I’ve crossed the border many times and it seems these checks are randomized, you never really know how your crossing will go, I’m yet to be refused entry to a country. However, I failed to follow instructions correctly during one crossing and landed myself a hefty fine for failing to follow the correct protocol.
The second feature I was really impressed with was the river crossing. If you find yourself travelling near Galati in Romania, you can cross the Danube river by ferry. What’s so different about that? You may ask, well until now, a ferry crossing usually meant a short loading screen while the game teleported you to the next area.
The Danube river crossing, however, now features a cutscene showing the ferry transporting you down the river to the other crossing. A small detail to some, but to me, this was more than just an animated cutscene.
This showed the constant dedication by SCS Software to improve the game and these neat little touches show how much thought goes into bringing additional enjoyment and immersion to the roads of Europe.
I don’t think we’ll ever see a cutscene of a channel crossing, but it certainly shows a glimpse of what could be possible in the future, maybe a boarding cutscene or a cutscene showing the ferry leaving or entering the port.
Admittedly for some a lot of enjoyment and immersion can come down to what controller you choose to use, The game is great to play with a wheel, I personally use a Logitech g27 currently, but enjoyed the game for 100’s of hours with a Logitech Driving Force GT, the game also has support for mouse and keyboard, as well as a USB gamepad.
As I said before, for a game that has been released for seven years, it still looks fantastic, with each map expansion SCS creates new assets, from recognisable buildings and landmarks to unique industries found in each country, each designed to fit into the surrounding architecture and scenery.
They have done a fantastic job of recreating Bulgaria, Romania and the northern (European) part of Turkey, each country has its feel from small rural villages in Bulgaria to the medieval architecture of Romanian towns.
Sometimes it’s a hard decision choosing between the speed and efficiency of the highway and the scenic switchback mountain roads of Romania which whilst challenging provide for some great backdrops for screenshots.
I’ve not noticed a great difference in the audio with the new DLC, but safe to say it’s of great quality, the trucks sound great, making all the right noises, it’s all very immersive. I particularly like the radio feature which allows you to listen to internet radio stations whilst you drive.
Longevity is the beauty of Simulation games for me, from picking up and playing for 30 minutes, to losing several hours in the blink of an eye!
They’re literally whatever you want them to be. I’ve regularly been playing the game for the last 2 ½ years and I’m still yet to tire of it, with so much more to explore with every expansion and the addition of more steam achievements, there is certain to be 100’s more hours to be enjoyed.
There is also a huge community of modders for the game, two of the biggest and most popular are ProMods and TruckersMP. ProMods adds even more detail and routes to the main map and TruckersMP brings an Online mode across multiple servers to an otherwise single-player game, there are also 100’s of mods for trucks, cars, various loads etc adding even more possibilities to an already huge game.
To conclude, this is a tough one for me, I personally would give ETS 2: Road to the Black Sea a platinum award, no question. As a fan of the truck sim games and simulation games, in general, it ticks so many boxes for me.
Also, I applaud the continued dedication and support shown by SCS Software who are constantly releasing patch’s which bring new features to the game asked for by their loyal community of fans, adding quality of life additions and also updating older area’s of the map which haven’t seen much change since the game launched back in 2012.
I struggle to think of another single-player game of its age which is still receiving patches and content. and I’m already looking forward to the announcements of the next planned map expansions.
However, I have to think of the wider community of gamers when giving my recommendation, which is why I still stand by my opinion of highly recommending the game to everyone!
Whether you enjoy simulator games, driving games or you’re just looking for a relaxing game to take a break from first-person shooters, the ETS 2 series and it’s latest DLC Road to the Black Sea is, in my opinion, a must-play and I firmly believe it deserves the Platinum Thumb!!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.