Since American Truck Simulator launched with California and Nevada back in 2016, the game has slowly been expanding eastward with DLC introducing new states to drive through. It's taken eight years for developer SCS Software to finally reach the heart of the midwest, and as thrilled as I was to learn that my home state of Missouri is coming to the game, I'm downright ecstatic at the news that my teensy hometown is going to be part of the game.
In a recent blog post introducing the dev team working on Missouri, a developer named Filip writes, "I'm looking forward to creating Cape Girardeau, an unmistakable city on the Mississippi River. I hope to translate the genius loci of the riverside town both in the more industrial areas as well as in the urban part of the city."
You probably have not heard of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It's a city of about 40,000 people, and notable for precisely three things: housing the university where Cedric the Entertainer and former Marvel Comics editor Roy Thomas graduated, producing the infamous conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, and serving as the primary filming location for the fictional Missouri town of North Carthage in David Fincher's Gone Girl adaptation. It's utterly bizarre to hear the town referred to in such flowery terms as these, especially coming from the Czech development studio of a small-scale trucking game.
Cape is not precisely my hometown - I've never lived within the city limits - but like many population centers centered in rural areas, it's the fulcrum of the region's outlying towns, sporadic homes, and local industries, such that it's effectively the hometown of everyone for miles and miles around, myself included. American Truck Simulator is the only game I've ever played that accurately conveys the spirit of the rural US, accurately capturing the gentle sense of decay you feel passing through small towns along the open road.
It's not as if ATS has anything particularly poetic to say about rural America, but playing it often feels meaningful just thanks to how accurately it recreates sights and sounds that aren't often given much care in other video games. While there isn't even a single screenshot of digital Cape Girardeau out there yet, there's no studio I'd trust more than SCS to bring the very peculiar sensibilities of a very particular midwestern town to life.
SCS has two other map expansions coming before Missouri - Nebraska and Arkansas - so it could still be quite some time before I finally get to bring my canary yellow Peterbilt 389 down these familiar streets. But I've already waited the better part of a decade for this moment, so I guess I can stand a few extra months.