Loading up Truck Driver for the first time gives a real sense of interest and intrigue, this being the first ‘trucking’ game on consoles. But then afterwards, every little thing that the game presents will dampen your spirits, leaving you to drive with no passion through a bare-bones game that needs to visit the nearest petrol station for a refill and tune-up.
There is certainly a good game in here, somewhere. Calling it a story would be putting it on too high a pedestal, but Truck Driver does have a narrative of sorts. You start off by doing short journeys for a fishmonger, delivering caviar and lobsters to customers, and it isn’t long before you unlock a second client, who – after a period of time – informs you of his sister that works for a rival construction firm. Guess who your next client is then? You have no input over what your character says in these exchanges between NPCs, but the back and forth between them is interesting enough to keep you invested.
Other clients come along eventually, but in the early hours you do spend a bit too long driving to and from the same few customers.
But that said, Truck Driver does just about manage to drip feed you enough rewards and upgrades at a frequency that doesn’t feel stale. Just.
Each mission offers money and EXP for completion, and every so often you’ll stumble upon an unlockable. These range from new parts for your current truck, new colours or a new passive ability that you can level up using your EXP. There are also goals to work towards such as milestones in types of cargo transported or total distance driven in the various truck manufacturers that offer similar rewards.
An important feature of these types of games is the world map. Unfortunately for Truck Driver, it feels very limited. Not least of all because of its size: you can easily travel from one corner to the other in less than 15 minutes and that’s despite the road network not making much sense. Neighbouring towns require delivery between the two areas but aren’t connected by a straight road that would cause the total journey time to be less than a minute. Instead you have to travel down to the motorway in the centre of the map to get between the two.
I fully understand why the map is this way, but it is detrimental to Truck Driver’s attempt at realism.
Realism in the sense that your truck has indicators, high beams and low beams, and the roads have traffic lights and speed cameras. Do you have to use your indicators when turning left and right? Not really, nor do you ever wholly need to pay attention to what’s around you in terms of other cars. The AI doesn’t pay any attention to you, after all.
For example, I have a game save where I am obeying all the laws of the road and have been fined once for driving through a red light – a known issue in the game where traffic lights are green for not long enough for your big rig to accelerate through them. I also have a game save where I am driving with reckless abandon, like this would be any other open-world style game. Surprisingly, I have yet to be fined.
Frustrations also come from AI drivers crashing into you at most junctions, causing damage to your truck and then just disappearing from the screen completely. You can be the best Truck Driver in the world, but you can’t take into account the idiot in the blue hatchback that’s just pulled out into the side of you.
Perhaps most annoyingly of all though is the fact that even despite all this, none of my employers have ever given me negative feedback. Each job you complete gives a flat fee, but you are never awarded or penalised for your driving and at times it feels very much like a real job where you receive absolutely no recognition for your work.
Other known bugs I have run into include minivans stopping at a junction and then not moving at all, causing a big traffic jam. In fact, this happened almost immediately after I started my engine. Publishers Soedesco are very much aware of the bugs and general lack of content in the game and have taken swift actions to resolve these matters by bringing in an entirely different studio for the post-release updates. So, all in all, they are working on it, but should it have been released like this in the first place? Or should this Xbox version have been delayed until next year like the PC version has? With the state of things, I’d say yes.
Truck Driver on the Xbox One launches with 19 achievements, and they aren’t much more imaginative than the game itself. Simply level up your passives, reach certain milestones and complete specific missions and you’ll have this sown up with full completion in not much time.
For all the negatives, there is a good game in here somewhere, and Truck Driver has some solid foundations to build on. As mentioned before, Soedesco have promised this will happen. Sadly, this is another case of a game releasing too soon and you can probably toss this in the same pile as initial versions of No Man’s Sky, Anthem and all the others that released before their time – something that is happening all too frequently in this generation of gaming. Truck Driver on Xbox One is certainly not on the same scale as some of the worst offenders on the ‘early release’ list, but with a bit more love, care and a delayed launch, things could have been so much better.