Free American Truck Simulator update adds a Kenworth, reduces fines

If you’ve ever wanted to haul logs down the hammer lane behind the wheel of a K-whopper long-nose, then you better get your ears on, good buddy, because I’ve got some news you’re going to want to hear. American Truck Simulator developer SCS Software has released a free update that adds the legendary Kenworth W900 to the game, and dials back the penalties for doing bad things with it.

SCS said in the update announcement that there have been quite a number of complaints about the “large fines” imposed on players for breaking the various rules of the road. Hard-core digital truckers might appreciate that nod to realism, but the studio decided that “it’s not really a good idea to intimidate people coming fresh to the game with crippling fines.” The update released today thus makes early-game fines “considerably lower,” and then raises them in concert with player level and, presumably, skill.

Speeding detection has been changed as well, and will now give digital drivers more time to avoid becoming bear bait. The “turn on red” feature has also been improved to ensure that you won’t get busted for turning right on a red, as long as you signal properly (and, I suppose, don’t cause an accident). Apparently this isn’t something you’re allowed to do in Europe.

Future updates will include more speed limit signs to better delineate speed zones, and changes to the AI and map tweaks aimed that will “limit the problems with being rammed by overly stupid AI cars.” Those changes will be put out as part of the next major update, and in the meantime SCS asked that players “please have patience with us.”

That’s a big ten-four, we’ll catch you on the flip-flop. (That’s trucker lingo for “American Truck Simulator is actually quite good, and you should read our review to find out why.”)

The great Euro Truck Simulator 2 road trip

My journey begins in Odense, Denmark—the southernmost city in Euro Truck Simulator 2’s new Scandinavia DLC. It’s the third largest Danish city and was once ruled by Canute IV, the last Viking king. My road trip will take me through Denmark, over to Sweden, and up to Norway. There’s no way to set the GPS in Euro Truck if you’re not on a delivery, so I’ll be navigating entirely with a map and road signs. I have no idea how long it’ll take, but I’m sure I’ll see some amazing scenery along the way. Or maybe just a load of motorways.

My bright red DAF XF Euro 6—a modest but reliable truck—pulls away from Odense and I head east towards Copenhagen, or København as the Danes call it. To reach the capital I’ll need to cross the Great Belt Fixed Link, or Storebæltsforbindelsen, a bridge that connects the islands of Zealand and Funen. It’s not long before I see its two great towers in the distance, and as I cross it, ‘What a Feeling’ from Flashdance plays on the Danish radio station I’m tuned to. I’m feeling good. Spirits are high.

I make my way across Zealand, the most populated island in Denmark. To cross into Sweden I’ll have to take the Øresund Bridge, which anyone who’s watched Danish/Swedish crime drama The Bridge will be familiar with. This leads directly from Copenhagen into the Swedish city of Malmö. It’s an impressive structure, and I switch briefly to a thirdperson view to soak in its majesty. Euro Truck is a game of mostly grey roads, which makes the moments when you see stuff like this even more exciting

I arrive in Malmö, a city with 470km of cycle paths. Not that I care in my massive gas-guzzling truck. I head through the city and southeast towards Trelleborg, the southernmost town in Sweden. When I get there, I have my first accident. I drive a little too quickly around a roundabout and my truck rolls over and falls on its side. If this was the real world, that would be the end of the road trip. But luckily I’m able to call for help and magically respawn at a nearby garage. Karlskrona is my next destination. It’s evening now, and the light is fading fast. The road between Trelleborg and Karlskrona is long and narrow, taking me through a picturesque slice of Scandinavian countryside. The sun finally dips below the horizon and I’m surrounded by blackness on all sides. It’s strangely eerie. I start designing a horror/ truck simulator game in my head. Silent Hill with heavy goods vehicles. Imagine it. ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones plays on the radio as I roll into Karlskrona, which is the headquarters of the Swedish Coast GuardMy fatigue meter is almost full, so it’s time to rest. I pull into a motel and get a few hours’ sleep. I wake up to a grey, rainy morning. I switch on my wipers and headlights and head northwest to the next city on my route, Växjö. Surrounded by lakes, this beautiful city has promised to totally eliminate its use of fossil fuels by 2030. I show my appreciation by driving my big, smelly truck through it. I continue northwest and make my way towards the city of Jönköping, which is built on the banks of Vättern, Sweden’s second largest lake.

From here I head northeast to Linköping, a city that promises to be carbon neutral by 2025. The Swedish seem to care about the environment more than any other country, which makes me feel guilty about fouling the place up with my truck. Good thing virtual carbon emissions don’t count. I’ve been driving non-stop for an hour and a half now, and I’m still only halfway through Sweden. I’m finding navigation without the GPS surprisingly easy, but I’ve become obsessed with checking the map every other minute to make sure I’m not taking any wrong turns.

I’m heading towards Sweden’s capital now, Stockholm. To get there I have to pass through Södertälje, which is home to truck manufacturer Scania AB. I wonder if any hardcore Scania fans will see me driving through their town in a Dutch DAF truck and throw eggs at me, but I emerge on the other side of the city unscathed. I continue northeast to Stockholm, an amazing city I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a couple of times in real life. But, like all the cities in the game, its digital incarnation isn’t quite as impressive. I take some time in the capital to visit a garage and repair my truck, which has suffered hundreds of bumps, scrapes and bangs since I left Odense. The total cost is an eye-watering 27,000 euros. Ouch

Star Citizen single-player and persistent universe will be available separately

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Roberts Space Industries has announced an update to Star Citizen’s purchase options, allowing potential spacefarers to opt into the single-player content exclusively. Basically, $45 gets you either the “Squadron 42” campaign or the core Star Citizen offering, which is the persistent, MMO-like component. Once you’ve bought either, the other can be had for $15 – meaning everything can be purchased for $60 (though that’s subject to change).

Still, the two packages are part of the same game, RSI insists, and will still influence each other in the event users opt to buy both down the track. “The package split does not change the fact that Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are part of the same game universe, or the fact that the games are functionally connected,” the announcement reads.

“You will access Squadron 42 through the same game client. And your performance in Squadron 42 will still have an impact on your career in the persistent universe, whether you buy both segments together or if you choose to add one further down the line.” Those who purchase Squadron 42 alone will still have access to Arena Commander.

The move is the first in RSI’s plans to adjust the price of Star Citizen while keeping early adopters on side. “With the package split, we’re accomplishing this objective without increasing the amount of money needed to join the persistent universe. The ‘package split’ is the first introduction of the anticipated a la carte option: you can pick which part of the game you’re interested in, for now the single player campaign or the persistent universe, and then can choose whether or not to purchase the other module as an add-on.

Kojima meets Norman Reedus for ‘update’

Look, I know I’m skirting the definition of ‘news’ here, but allow yourself to indulge your hype-fuelled inner child for a moment and have a gander at Hideo Kojima’s latest tweet, then I can go back to telling you about release dates and improbable feats in Dark Souls.

Yes, Kojima is a master of publicity and the bane of Konami PRs, but he could be teasing an actual thing as opposed to his own Kojima-brand mystique. Norman Reedus, as you will likely know, was the star of Kojima-Guillermo Del Toro horror spectacular Silent Hills before it was canned. That implosion caused Del Toro, in an interview with Playboy, to swear off making games for good, “otherwise, I’ll join someone and his house will explode, or something.”

However, in two days’ time, on February 18, Kojima and Del Toro will be holding a joint talk at the DICE Awards, purportedly to revisit fond memories. Could the proximity of Kojima’s catch-up with Reedus be coincidence? Calculated PR stunt? First hints at a revived Silent Hills-alike which doubles as a calculated PR stunt?