“The appeal of this expansion for me is that it reminds me of Twin Peaks”
Crossing the state line in AMERICAN TRUCK SIMULATOR
The states released for American Truck Simulator so far— Arizona, Nevada, California—feature fantastic, atmospheric driving, but they’re all pretty similar: Dry, sun-baked, and dusty. Which makes the addition of Oregon in the latest expansion all the more interesting.
Oregon is some of developer SCS’ best work to date, with golden wheatfields, dramatic forests, and sweeping views across the mountains. The towns, including my starting location of Bend, are pure Americana: Diners, hardware stores, motels, and giant fiberglass effigies of woodland creatures. I must admit, a lot of the appeal of this expansion for me is that it reminds me of Twin Peaks. In fact, nerd that I am, I accompany my journey with Angelo Badalamenti’s score for the TV series.
As I cruise down a long country road flanked by tall, majestic trees, I notice a turn-off for Crater Lake—a stunning real-world location that has to be seen to be believed. I take a detour, forgetting that I’m supposed to be delivering a load of gypsum to a warehouse in San Francisco, and drive up a snaking mountain road to a viewpoint overlooking the lake. It’s not quite as impressive as the real thing, but it’s nice seeing such grand scenery in a game that’s usually just roads, roads, and yet more roads.
Taking it in
I get back on track and resume my journey south. What’s striking about this expansion is how much variety there is. The state is full of character, with little details on almost every corner. SCS is really stepping its game up when it comes to environment design, although there are still those great stretches of rolling, endless highway that define the Truck Simulator series.
But as the state line approaches, the scenery changes. The greenery fades away, replaced by dry scrub and more open, less dense forests. This change in scenery, color, and ambience is something ATS was sorely missing, and the sensation of crossing a large country is massively heightened. I feel like I’m on a road trip. The rain even clears up when I get to California, the dark clouds drifting away to reveal a piercing blue sky and a burning sun. I feel a sudden urge to listen to Fleetwood Mac.
Expansions for SCS’ truck sims rarely add or change much in the actual game, but anyone who’s deeply into them will understand how exciting a new landscape to drive through is—especially when it’s a new kind of terrain. Oregon is another excellent addition to ATS, and I’m excited to see what other states I’ll get to drive through in the future. One thing I’d like to see in the game is more realistic weather. The rain effects are great, but I’d love to see a change in severity, from a light shower to a heavy storm, and maybe even a bit of snow up north. Alaska next, perhaps?
The state is full of character, wit h details on almost every corner
Crater Lake, one of Oregon’s most famous places.
Of course it’s raining: It’s the Pacific Northwest.