FBT is not King of the Road
I’ve never understood why you’d want to simulate real life. Why try to hold down a real job when I can be fighting dragons, committing crimes and saving the universe? And yet, a game where you just drive a lorry has sold millions and is rated Overwhelmingly Positive on Steam. Are there that many frustrated lorry drivers out there?
Once I’ve picked an appropriately trucker-looking avatar, PW Haulage is ready for business. Except, I’m not. The biggest issue I have with ETS2 is you can’t freeroam until you’ve made enough money to buy your own rig – boring! But, I have to admit, if it just gave me a truck I’d not do anything but drive it like I stole it. The period of time where you’re freelancing odd jobs until you can start your own business is like a long-distance tutorial.
And it turns out I need it. Driving a truck is hard. You really get the scale, the size, and being higher up gives you both more visibility and a sense of superiority. I always wondered how truck and bus drivers kept their nerve in those behemoths, and now I know – from up here I really do own the road.
Well, I would own the road if I could get out of the parking lot. Trying to reverse an articulated truck is insane. Everything goes the opposite way, I thought I had the axis controls flipped. The game does give a top-down view to help, but it doesn’t. It's witchcraft managing to back up a truck. It just won’t behave. I can’t even work out how I get so stuck.
Once I am free of the parking lot though, a massive smile breaks out. Its satisfying plodding along. It’s also terrifying. I keep forgetting about my massive backside and damaging everything, clipping kerbs and clouting parked cars – who parks on a corner anyway!? But soon I lean into it, get to know the lorry’s temperament and limitations, and soon enough I’m piling down the motorway, arm on the windowsill.
While it is both relaxing and intense, eventually the novelty wears off. Motorways get boring and when I reach the depot, I again spend forever somehow getting the load into every physically impossible position except where it’s needed, and I get a bit fed up with it. It’s also just annoying having to do tons of small – in terms of return, not distance – jobs to get your truck and business. As I’m checking the jobs page I notice a Loans option…
Now with a loan I have no chance of paying off, I get the cheapest truck I can and we’re off! The roads are more realistic than accurate, it’s not google maps we’re driving but it looks and feels great and I recognise a lot out of the windows. Freeroam fun. But while I do waste valuable time and money not to mention ruin my only truck trying to find my childhood home, old school, favourite pubs and the like, there’s not the detail I hoped for, including the cities you visit – I even drove for actual real-world hours from London to Prague to visit SCS’ offices, but home-town Prague was pretty much just the ring road. I get bored again, but I also feel like I gave up too easily and realise the appeal of sims is doing something right.
It is hard to get out of the GTA mindset; or at least Smokey and the Bandit – I often I look at the GPS and think ‘I could just cut across that field…’ but not doing so is the reward. When you finally pull into the drop off point, there’s a real sense of achievement at piloting one of those big rigs. Behaving as you should - within an acceptable margin for typical trucker behaviour - is a really satisfying challenge and getting better jobs because of your professionalism is a real motivator. I’m enjoying the simple pleasure of driving my rig, making great time and just doing a job. Whenever you free roam in an open world like GTA, mayhem is only moments away, but here you’re enjoying the monotony.
The trucks are legit and so well detailed, and I discover I have favourites – ther