Tomorrow, Euro Truck Simulator 2 comes (tragically) the closest it’s ever more likely to come to Eurovision Truck Simulator – with a wink and a smile, giving up on the concept that ‘Euro’ means something particular. I sit up for the certainly forthcoming ETS2: Australia DLC. But for now, we get Beyond The Baltic Sea. Newbie ETS2 nations Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are all EU member states, so truthful dinkum there, mate – however not a lot Russia, among the extra Westerly reaches of which are actually additionally accessible on 18 wheels.
It’s SCS’s great Truck Simulator collection boldly embracing a complete new continent – and fairly seemingly laying the groundwork for years of ongoing growth a la its splendid cousin American Truck Sim, relatively than our getting a separate Putin Truck Simulator sooner or later. Question is, how totally different does St Petersburg really feel from Swansea and Stockholm?
Quite a bit, truly. Granted, a few of that is colored by the SCS games’ general ‘any culture you want, so long as it’s stark’ method to lighting and stripped-down cities, however just a few excursions of Russia’s second metropolis and its surrounding countryside have each met and busted my Mother Russia expectations. In brief, as a result of I’m an ignoramus, I anticipated brutal buildings, time-lost fashions and sinister authorities propaganda.
The former is true – squat, merciless rectangles, which in gaming phrases evoke City-17 and Pripyat feels, abound. I set free a very huge, bleak chuckle on the preposterously depressing HQ you’re given if you happen to begin a brand new profession in Russia:
This architecural dourness is, nonetheless, very a lot offset by large expanses of attractive, forested countryside, which Russia-set games and films hadn’t actually ready me for me. A really nice and tranquil shock certainly. This makes Russia feels like a much bigger, much less populated place than a lot of the ETS territories thus far, however it’s additionally mesmeric in its distinction between essentially the most overtly man-made constructions conceivable and all these timber.
No Putin posters, nonetheless, however I did see an extremely creepy billboard advert for cake – creepy as a result of a) it was seemingly only for cake on the whole, not a particular model, store or cafe, which is nearly actually an encrypted KGB codeword b) it was accompanied by an image of three biscuits:
Bake information! Bake information!*
The factor that basically baked my noodle, nonetheless, was that the highway indicators weren’t solely in a unique language, but additionally a unique alphabet.
I felt greater than ever like a wierd driver in a wierd land – determining the place St Petersburg is by the form of the phrase relatively than the characters inside, and having no concept the place I used to be in relation to anything (until I regarded on the map, however that’s dishonest). An excellent form of misplaced. This is what I need from any new Truck Sim growth: a sense of being someplace new.
Between the horrible buildings, the huge forests, the indecipherable highway indicators and the false cake promoting, I completely received that ‘where the hell am I?’ mingled pleasure and nervousness I often affiliate with getting on the depressing 90-minute courtesy bus journey from the airport.
That stated, St Petersburg itself is a little bit of a wash – extra a set of surroundings locked behind these infamous ETS/ATS invisible partitions than a spot you may discover. There’s a way of distant immensity, however that’s about it. However, the roads do sometimes yield hanging websites, like this singularly Russian (warfare?) memorial.
You wouldn’t discover that in Reading.
All advised, ETS 2’s first style of Russia feels a promising step into the relative unknown, a far cry from the gorgeous as a postcard nature of the recent Italia expansion. If it ever makes it to Moscow although, it actually must get cities proper first.
Euro Truck Simulator 2: Beyond The Baltic Sea is out tomorrow. It’s £13.49/€17.99/$17.99 through Steam.
*Gag credit score: Matthew Castle. But hopefully you’ll by no means learn this footnote and presume that I’m a genius.