Alright – we started a trucking business in Part 1 and got the driving and delivery mechanics down. It’s time to focus on the management simulator half of the game.
|Yep - you're not just driving around in this game.|
But First… Skills
Oh right, I was about to forget them. I mentioned in passing in Part 1 that when you level up thanks to EXP received from a delivery, you gain one Skill Point to spend on your Skills. Most of these skills yield extra rewards in EXP and money. There are six categories:
- Long Distance: At first, the longest delivery you can do is 250 miles long. As you add points to this one, the maximum length of deliveries will increase all the way up to 2500 miles. For the record, a delivery this long will take a few days in-game… and three hours in real-time. Yes, really.
- High-Value Cargo: Self-explanatory. You get more money because the cargo you’re carrying is valuable.
- Fragile Cargo: The goal here is to carry this safe and sound, meaning you must drive while avoiding all possible accidents and mistakes. In short: Good luck.
- Just-in-Time Delivery: This one has to be done in a tighter time requirement. Again, extras if you succeed.
- Eco-Driving: Reduces your fuel consumption at each level. Basically a dump stat to be filled once everything else is maxed.
Expanding the First Garage
|As an aside, may I mention that I find it funny|
that your profile "avatar" and those of your
employees are the faces of real people?
|I'll say, the garage looks pretty nice once|
it's been fully upgraded.
|As long as you repay those loand in time, it's|
all good, right?
|I might as well slip in a couple of truck-driving|
pictures, or this part will be nothing but
|Buying online is so much simpler.|
But before you can buy more than one truck, you must upgrade your garage as the starting one has room for only one truck and one employee: Yourself. Each garage has two upgrades, and both are understandably expensive, but they’re worth it as each upgrade opens two more slots for trucks and employees…
From One-Man Operation To Small Business To Empire
Is it going to be easy, to add employees to the mix? Yes and no. The base idea is simple; but it gets complicated fast.
|None of them start out all that great.|
They'll get better under your supervision.
|Thankfully, you don't have to travel to an|
agency after you've found it in order to
hire new people.
A fully-upgraded garage will have room for yourself and four employees – take into account the cost of upgrading the garage, then hiring the employees and providing a truck per person. It gets expensive quick. And if an employee isn’t given a truck, boy will they let you know; in-universe, they do this job to be paid, so they can’t lie around and do nothing.
|While you own only one garage, this menu is|
a bit empty. It'll take some time before it
Each employee has a rating (up to 5.0), a wage they request per mission (a base amount + an extra amount per mile driven), and a number of levels in their driving skills, which are the same as yours. Under your employment, on top of bringing cash to the business through contracts, they’ll level up in a manner similar to yours, and you can select what you want them to upgrade – everything equal, or one skill at a time. More money will be made with the Long Distance skill. Also, it is entirely possible that some of these employees will actually cost you money early on, but they’ll get better over time as they grab contracts that bring out more money.
After which you can repay your loans thanks to the money you make, but also the money your employees bring back over time. Once this garage is on a roll, you can get some money and buy another garage – and then lather, rinse, repeat. I imagine that, in order to beat the game, you have to own all of the garages and, if not have them all working at full capacity, have hired every single employee available. I’ve been told that it’s impossible to fill all of the garages, apparently there are too many garages and not enough employees in the game’s code.
So Many DLCs
I guess another thing to do in order to finish the game is to visit 100% of the map. As I was writing this, I was in the process of discovering the handful of towns I hadn’t visited yet. And, of course, I have yet to purchase the DLC States I’m missing. The base American Truck Simulator already has quite a bit of content, but it’s worth buying the DLCs in order to increase the size of the map.
|Custom paintjobs do look cool.|
|If you think it's tough to drive 100% of the map|
on three States, imagine when you have ten.
If you want to buy all of these DLCs, it’ll be expensive. But, to be fair, some are free. Arizona is one of those, so you can unlock a full State as soon as you start playing. And it’s not like all of them are mandatory – I’ll gladly skip the cosmetic ones. The option’s out there if you love to customize your stuff, though, and more options never hurt. It does annoy me a bit that several achievements cannot be obtained unless you have the required DLCs.
Wanna Visit Canada?
Although, when it comes to American Truck Simulator, there’s a lot of possibilities. The most obvious one: Modders building the map for the rest of North America. All of the missing States (except Hawaii, obviously), then Canada and Mexico. I haven’t tried them, so I can’t really speak on the quality of those mods. Let’s just say that if you like this game, there’s an entire world of unofficial, fan-made content to discover.
|Not sure I want to travel across the entire|
continent to see my home town.
Speaking of - I was about to forget, but there's also a multiplayer mode in which you can join a server and be one of many truck drivers making deliveries. So if you see other trucks behaving erratically in that mode, chances are they're controlled by other human players out there.
American Truck Simulator sated my desire to go out onto the roads and see new places. It’s a bit disappointing that we almost exclusively see highways and roads, but that’s normal for the type of game that it is. And, of course, it won’t ever replace the real deal. Besides, the focus is on delivering cargo; it’s possible to drive freely, but first you need a steady stream of revenue. It’s really more of an “American Trucking Business Simulator”; not that I’m complaining, as both halves are pretty great.
|Dammit! A roadblock!|
At least that's not where I had to go.
|I will never not find it funny that the game uses|
what I assume to be the photos of real people
for the drivers you can hire.
If driving around, fulfilling contracts, visiting States virtually and/or growing a business sounds like something you’d like, for extended periods of time, then this game is for you. If you don’t like games that require some time commitment, it might not be for you; fair enough. All I know is, it scratched one itch I’ve had for a few months.
Another itch I’ve had was about going to places to have activities… like, say, amusement parks. Definitely not recommended at the moment, but thankfully video games can simulate that too. See you next week.