Euro Truck Simulator 2 received its last major map expansion two and a half years ago. DLC Euro Truck Simulator 2 – Iberia was released in April 2021 and then there was militaristic Nazi hysteria in Russia and the subsequent expansion, Euro Truck Simulator 2 – Heart of Russia, has gone into the trash, although SCS Software still hopes to release it after Ukraine’s victory (but why?!). Therefore, the DLC Euro Truck Simulator 2 – West Balkans, which was announced shortly after Russia’s cancellation, was really awaited. And now, finally, it’s here.
|Euro Truck Simulator 2 – West Balkans
Away from Moscow
To understand how difficult it was for SCS Software to kensel Euro Truck Simulator 2 – Heart of Russia, it is necessary to understand that the lion’s share of players in ATS/ETS2 are Russian-speaking players from Russia and satellite countries. “We would like to thank the “Truckers”, both the 1998 game from Softlab NSK / 1C and the Russian TV series of the same name in 2001-2012. Interestingly, Hard Truck: 18 Wheels of Steel, SCS Software’s first truck game, was inspired by Truckers.
Fortunately, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is no longer “Truckers,” but the game has a really large audience in Russia, so SCS Software’s move can be called even bold. Moreover, back in March 2022, the studio released a set of skins Ukrainian Paint Jobs Pack, all proceeds from which went to help Ukrainian refugees. However, this is a rather lazy DLC and the skins here are much simpler than those made by modders. Besides, the community has been asking for Ukrainian Paint Jobs for years and it took a big war for SCS Software to finally wake up. Well, better this way than that.
The author has no illusions about SCS Software. It is a commercial entity whose main goal is to make money. Therefore, no one will throw away the DLC that has already been made, and as soon as it is no longer so embarrassing to publish Heart of Russia, SCS Software will do so. There were rumors about the possibility of transferring part of the money earned in this way to Ukraine, but that’s just that, the residue will still remain.
But God be with her and the Heart of Russia. We have a much more interesting guest – the West Balkans. This is the largest expansion of the Euro Truck Simulator 2 map in terms of the number of countries. There were 12 countries in the base game, but 5 of them were only partially represented and were later added in several DLCs.
There are 8 separate countries in the West Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia. Each with its own signs, police, signposts, flags, shop signs, businesses, etc. So you can understand that there is actually no less work here than in the same huge Texas for ATS. Bravo, SCS Software!
And there are a lot of borders here. Not the transparent borders of Central Europe, but full-fledged checkpoints. With narrow entrances, X-ray cargo, document checks, etc. Sometimes even a short trip of 300 km requires two or three border crossings. This means 4-6 checkpoints on both sides. This slows down and complicates the delivery of goods a bit. And they will notice, especially if you have turned off the display of dead ends, that the corridors for cars, buses, and trucks at the border are separate.
The Western Balkans are mostly mountainous terrain, so the new DLC has plenty of challenging and very picturesque serpentines. By the way, in some places it looks like the Carpathians. It seems that when SCS Software finally gets around to making Ukraine, they will be able to assemble it from parts of the Road to the Black Sea DLC (Romania, Bulgaria, the European part of Turkey) and the West Balkans.
Before the release of West Balkans, the developers launched three internal game events at once. Two of them were intentional, the other one just coincided in time. These are Cruising The Balkans – West Balkans and Cruising The Balkans – Road to the Black Sea, for both of the above-mentioned add-ons, plus the traditional Happy Hauloween event. All with unique in-game prizes, so it’s a busy time in Euro Truck Simulator 2.
As I wrote earlier, SCS Software was in no hurry to add Ukrainian content to ETS2. Although Ukrainian localization has been in the game almost from the very beginning, there is still no official Ukrainian navigation, for example.
But the world is not without good people, so the Steam Workshop has three mods with Ukrainian-language navigation: Ukrainian-speaking navigation voice, Ukrainian voice of navigation – Anton and Yandex.Navigator – All voices. The latter, of course, was made by the enemy Yandex, which lacks some phrases and has too many Russian-language variations in the package, but we recommend it. Firstly, the Ukrainian voice navigation was recorded by the Kyiv office staff before the war started in 2014, and secondly, Ms. Oksana Mandryka has a really nice voice.
As for the Ukrainian skins for trucks and trailers, there are plenty of them, and there are even options in the style of Nova Poshta, Ukrposhta and Lvivske beer, Stepan Bandera, Simon Petliura and the SEALs, Ukrainian pixel, skins of famous Ukrainian companies for trailers, just quality Ukrainian skins which are are much better than the official ones. Separate mention should be made of sets of Ukrainian cab accessories: Ukraine Cabin Accessories and Ukrainian accessories.
In general, you can search the Euro Truck Simulator 2 Workshop using the words “UA”, “Ukraine” and “Ukrainian”. There are a lot of interesting things here.
Meanwhile, in American Truck Simulator
In the two and a half years that Euro Truck Simulator 2 has been lagging behind, American Truck Simulator has received four (!!!) map extensions – Wyoming, Montana, gigantic American Truck Simulator – Texas and recently also Oklahoma. Plus a bunch of additional free trucks.
In general, it seems that after the fiasco with Russia, SCS Software decided to switch from problematic Europe to the problem-free United States. Go ahead and add states and count the money.
This is surprising, given that American Truck Simulator is still more than three times less popular than Euro Truck Simulator 2 in terms of the number of players. 17 thousand in the recent peak in ATS versus 66 thousand in ETS2. By the way, 66,313 online players is a new record for Euro Truck Simulator 2, which the game set on the first weekend after the release of West Balkans. Not bad results for a game that was released 11 years ago!
SCS Software hasn’t announced the next map expansion for ETS2 yet, they usually do it two or three weeks after the previous DLC release. But it is obvious that they do not have many options.
It is clear that we will not get Ukraine in Euro Truck Simulator 2 until our country is completely de-occupied within the 1991 borders. First, SCS Software simply won’t risk taking on Ukraine because of the large number of Russian and pro-Russian players. Secondly, in order to make a proper map, the studio’s employees have to visit the country, drive its roads, take pictures of sights, typical signs, etc. It is clear that this will not happen while the war is on. And Google Street View will not be of much help here, as it is outdated for many regions, and has not been updated for the temporarily occupied territories, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea for a long time. So Ukraine in ETS2 is still a crane in the sky.
So what’s left? Belarus? It is also risky. The northern part of Scandinavia, Finland, the UK, and Ireland, which has long been demanded by players? Perhaps. But most likely, the next DLC will be Greece or Turkey. We are betting on Greece.
And who are the competitors?
ATS/ETS2 has long been criticized for the fact that these games hardly develop. SCS Software adds new regions, trucks, trailers, and keeps charging fans money. The game has not received a new engine or any important new mechanics in 11 years of development.
It is true that the issue of a new engine is very acute, and SCS seems to be well aware of this and is working on a new version, but it is still unknown when it will appear. Both games look frankly outdated, and you just don’t want to return to the regions of the base map, despite the renovation that the developers are doing. The problem is that Euro Truck Simulator 2 and American Truck Simulator simply have no competitors.
Yes, there is, for example, a very good SnowRunner… but I want to remind you that this is a Russian game, which, by the way, is no longer available for Ukraine on Steam or EGS. Besides, SnowRunner is about something else.
We had some hopes for Alaskan Road Truckers, which was advertised as a trucker simulator, not a truck game. Yes, it has some interesting mechanics. The change of seasons, the need to eat and drink, the possibility of getting out of the truck and freezing to death, car repairs, and much more… But it didn’t work out. Visually, Alaskan Road Truckers looks like a cheap car simulator from the early 2000s, and driving a truck here is no fun at all.
Instead of a summary
Euro Truck Simulator 2 has a lot to criticize. The developers are stagnating, the number of DLC with trailers and tuning kits is growing, and the main game is developing very slowly. ATS/ETS2 desperately needs a new engine!
But Euro Truck Simulator 2 still has no competitors, so we continue to transport goods across Europe. We hope to see Ukraine in the game someday, but for now we are driving around the Balkans. There is a lot to see here, Euro Truck Simulator 2 – West Balkans is really the best addition to ETS2 today. Good luck with it!