Truck simulation titles are popular yet somewhat niche and have primarily been found on PC historically. That’s where I was introduced to them back when I was a mere lad thanks to SCS Software’s 18 Wheels of Steel series. Nowadays, you’re likely to hear about American or Euro Truck Simulator, made by the same team. But now, a new contender has entered the field, and it’s actually let console owners in on the fun. Soedesco’s Truck Driver is an ambitious truck sim that seeks to fill the void of the genre on consoles. But how does it play on a Nintendo Switch?
For starters, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised almost immediately by how well-optimized the title is for Nintendo’s machine. At this point, I’m used to Switch ports of driving games having low frame rates and grainy visuals (looking at you. KT Racing). However, Soedesco has actually played to the system’s strengths with Truck Driver.
The game has clearly been made with Nintendo Switch in mind. Using dual Joy-Con connected in the grip, Truck Driver defaults to a stick + motion control combo. This allows for tighter, smoother turns, which actually feels really good. This control scheme is enabled by default but can be disabled if you find it annoying to have your truck drift a bit to the side if you don’t keep the controller straight. However, if you’re all in on motion controls, you can even drive using a single Joy-Con in a wheel accessory. Sadly, the Nintendo Labo Steering Wheel Toy-Con goes completely unnoticed here, though this would be a sweet pair if it ever is patched in.
Truck Driver plays and functions like every other truck sim before it. You’re put in an open-world map, this one containing 12 settlements. It’s neither huge nor small and has a decent variety of scenery. Navigating throughout the map is easy as the roads are fairly manageable. Traffic intelligence is hit and miss, however. Sometimes they’ll make sudden movements, which can result in a crash. Then again, real drivers do this too, so I guess that’s not a fault as much as it is a “feature.”
Whether or not you crash, however, your truck will still gradually accumulate damage due to wear and tear. This can be rectified with maintenance at a garage, which is also the same place you’ll be able to customize and upgrade your current ride or outright buy a new one. New upgrades and customization options are gradually unlocked as you progress through the game along with new trucks. None of the vehicles in Truck Driver are licensed, but the inspiration from real-world brands is clearly visible if you’re familiar with their designs, such as trucks from Scania and MAN. Buying anything however will take some time as the money you make from each job is fairly small in the earlier stages of the game.
To help with that, there are perks — referred to as “Passives” here in Truck Driver. These perks include things like earning more money and XP and reducing your driver fatigue (which runs up quickly early on, so you’ll need to make frequent rest stops). The Passives are purchased with XP points. As you progress through the game, your driver will level up, and as you complete certain actions, individual Skills will also be advanced. This will net some cash rewards and sometimes unlock new paint schemes for specific trucks. Of course, you’ll only make advancements by completing jobs.
There are six clients scattered across the map, each of which has their own unique kind of business. So, your cargo will depend on which business it is. For example, the first client runs an industrial fishing company, while the second runs a large construction company. Most jobs are traditional point A-to-point B deliveries. However, some missions will require you to pick up and deliver multiple trailers within the same journey, so be mindful of fuel consumption and fatigue levels. The missions aren’t that hard to complete; it’s just a matter of being careful, obeying road laws, and parking your trailer as accurately as possible.
Lookin’ the part
As I alluded to, Truck Driver runs surprisingly well on Nintendo Switch. Playing it would’ve been far less enjoyable if the frame rate weren’t smooth, but this manages to stick to 30 FPS most of the time. While this sim is no graphical showcase, the visual quality is decent enough here on Switch, though there are some cheap effects like the raindrops on the windshield.
The sound effects are also on the cheap side, as there is compression on top of some sounds just being generic in general. The limited soundtrack also gets old relatively quickly, so I disabled it. Overall, though, this is one of the few sims on Switch that works with the hardware to get the most out of it, and I’m glad to see it. Whether handheld or docked, it’s a smooth experience. Soedesco did mess up with the title’s stability, however. Truck Driver has crashed on me more than any other game, usually when loading a save. Not sure what gives here, but hopefully it can be patched.
A driver’s journey
Truck Driver isn’t some revolutionary new title in the truck sim genre, and I don’t think it’s trying to be one. For a console sim, it looks good, runs well, and has a lot of hours’ worth of content. While it’s not as fleshed out as SCS Software’s more seasoned offerings on PC, this has still proven to be a decent experience. And there’s virtually nothing else like it on Switch so far, so it has the room all to itself for the time being. If you’ve played truck sims in the past or want to get your feet wet, Truck Driver on Nintendo Switch is a good first step. And as for Soedesco, I hope to see the team build upon this concept with an even more ambitious project in the future.