I haven’t touched Euro Truck Simulator 2 since last year’s release of the Italia DLC. Now, SCS has expanded the game’s already huge map with the introduction of five new countries: Estonia, (Southern) Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and a small sliver of Western Russia. Taking a virtual road trip through these extremely northward countries makes me want to visit them in the real world.
Crusin’ Along the Country Roads
In order to see as much as possible as quickly possible, I decided to make at least one stop in each of the new countries. My Baltic tour began in Poland. The haul I was tasked with took me to Kaliningrad, which is a Russian territory that’s sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, completely separated from the Russian mainland. Since Russia isn’t a part of the EU, there was a border control point. I don’t recall encountering this in ETS 2 before, so it was interesting pulling up and having my papers checked. Traffic gets quite congested here, but the process is fairly swift (albeit not as simple as just driving between borders without interruption like the rest of the countries). The Kaliningrad Oblast is quite beautiful in real life, and that’s replicated here in ETS 2.
From there, I took up another job which sent me up to Kaunas in Lithuania, followed by Daugavpils in Latvia. The scenery in both countries look quite similar, so I hardly noticed when I passed through the border. But it was definitely a lot more noticeable making my way into mainland Russia, with the destination being Pskov. Since this is the western part of the country, it still has a lot of greenery, compared to the barren, rugged terrain I was expecting.
The next job I picked up in Pskov had me going straight into Helsinki, Finland, via Estonia. So, while I didn’t stop in Estonia, I did see a lot of its inner region before picking up a ferry in Tallinn that took me to the docks of Helsinki. I made my way back into Estonia, followed by Latvia once more, and then back into Lithuania (ending in the city of Liepaja). I wanted to straddle the coast as much as possible to try and actually see the Baltic. But that didn’t happen much, to my surprise.
I Didn’t See the Sea, but the Scenery was Scenic
Most of the new road networks do live up to the name of being “beyond the Baltic Sea”. A lot of the routes I ended up on had me extremely inland. Even when I found myself on the coast, the view of the sea was often obscured. Even so, there are beautiful sights all around. Many of the towns feature a lot of brightly-colored topiary, and the look of the buildings is also quite beautiful. The pristine mix of nature and man-made structures is clearly represented here. Everywhere looks perfectly ripe for pulling your truck to the side of the road and taking in a big whiff of fresh air.
The scenery designers over at SCS have continued their great work at bringing real-world locales into the virtual world. While I know next to nothing about any of these new countries (I actually had to look at Google Maps to verify where they are in the real world), comparing some in-game shots to real-life photographs shows that the scenery designers did their homework. Most of my time with the Beyond the Baltic Sea DLC consisted of driving through vast country vistas, mainly composed of farmland, rolling hills, and small towns with the cozy-looking Baltic architecture.
This is in stark contrast to the majority of the landscapes over in American Truck Simulator, which mostly consists of dry, rocky deserts and valleys. ETS 2 has always had more greenery than its sibling title, and now the amount has been boosted even more. Speaking of ATS, it’s amazing that a lot of US states are actually a lot bigger than many European countries. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia look like dwarfs compared to the likes of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Even having started in Poland, going all the way up to Finland and back down to Lithuania, my total play time so far is only at a little over four hours—and I’ve only visited about half of the 24 new cities and towns included in this pack. Thus, Beyond the Baltic Sea is sure to keep you entertained for quite some time with all of its new scenery to explore.
What I Want to See is Seasons
My only real issue with the new content is that it made me yearn for ETS 2 to have a more dynamic weather engine. Considering this DLC released at the beginning of winter, I’d have liked to see that replicated in the game world. The developers got the time of day just right, as the sun actually never set (merely dipped below the horizon) just as it does in real life during summer time. But it would be cool to see all of these far-northern countries transform into their fall and winter themes. Hopefully, they can officially implement that somewhere down the line. Nevertheless, this is a great pack. It took a while, considering ETS 2 is now a whopping six years old, but it was worth the wait.