Astragon Entertainment and stillalive Studios recently launched the Official Map Expansion for their bus driving simulator Bus Simulator 18 and this is our review of the expansion. If you are a fan of simulation games, then you would have heard about Bus Simulator 18 or might have even played it. It is a hardcore simulation game which is focused solely on starting and maintaining your very own bus company in a fictional city called Seaside Valley.
To its core Bus Simulator 18 is a hardcore bus simulator and it gives you the full freedom of maintaining your own bus company. You can set up routes throughout the city, hire and fire drivers, purchase a fleet of buses and assign them to different routes throughout the city. However, all this said, the game is not challenging at all. The default map was a real breeze to drive and there were very little challenges in the game.
However, with the brand new Official Map Expansion now added to the game, the developers have certainly ramped things up a notch. The expansion adds two brand new districts to Seaside Valley. These are Kerststadt and Sonnstein. Both these districts add brand new roads, sights to see and a lot of new bus stops to add to your route. However, the main thing to notice here is that these districts are really challenging and will test every last bit of your bus driving skills to drive here.
First up is Kerststadt, you can reach this district easily from using the main highway from the Harbor district however when you enter Kerststadt itself, the roads are pretty tight and you will have a hard time navigating in them. This district features a big university in the middle along with different corporate offices and a big mart on one side. Most of the passengers here are students and people working in the offices.
As soon as you enter the new district, you will quickly notice the university and the lines of bikes parked alongside it. It is also much better detailed than the original map of the game as you will notice more props and people walking here. The bust stops are busier and you will find more passengers here than the normal routes as well. Most probably because it is a corporate district and many people come here every day to work and study.
Apart from the tight, narrow streets within the district, you will find a much bigger road surrounding the district which serves as a good way to avoid the narrow streets but for the insides, you will be best will smaller buses rather than big ones. The Mercedes Citaro works miracles here and will really help you navigate the tight corners and intersections easily rather than the bigger ones.
The second new district added with the map expansion is the quiet and laid back town of Sonnstein. Unlike Kerststadt, Sonnstein is a very small district which has only two roads but the real charm and challenge lies in getting to this far-away district. The roads leading to Sonnstein are all winding, twisting, snake-like roads and to make things challenging are also uphill and downhill at the same time.
You will need excellent control over the accelerator, steering wheel as well as the brakes to drive on these challenging roads. There’s a specific section in the northeast of Sonnstein that comprises of U-turns on each end of the road and will take you up towards the district or down away from the village. This looks like something straight out of a rally stage where you would normally use your handbrake and drift around the corner. Sadly, this is not the case here.
Another big challenge in Sonnstein or the country roads around this beautiful district is that there are no proper bus stops and each time you will have to park right in the middle of the road to make bus stops. This further adds to the challenge as you will need to drop and pick up more passengers while making sure that you do not cause a big traffic jam behind you. Sonnstein has different bus stops and nearly all are compromised, on the road bus stops.
The last big addition in the map expansion is the airport which is near to Kerststadt but it is a little drive so you will be driving around some open and wide country roads to reach the airport. The airport itself is a busy place so you will need to navigate around carefully to drop off the passengers here. If you are lucky, you might even see a plane land or take off.
The new districts are not as big as the original ones in the game but they are still a welcome addition to the game. They might lack in size but the wide, open countryside roads will keep you busy for quite some time. The challenges here are also much higher than the standard map because you will need to be more careful here. Routes are longer and tougher so you can expect to spend even more time on the roads in just driving to the new districts.
The roads are wide and open which means you will not be limited to lower speed but they are winding and long in certain sections couple with eight climbing up or going down where you will need to manage both the accelerator and the brake so that you don’t run off the road and crash due to over-speeding or stall in the middle of the road because of low speed.
The new map expansion is the perfect way to expand your bus company in Bus Simulator 18 to cover new areas. Not only does it expand the road network with new districts, but you will also get some cool new visuals to customize your bus with. Priced at just $15.99, the Official Map Expansion is a must have for all fans for Bus Simulator 18 who would love to explore some beautiful and challenging new areas in the game.
Bus Simulator 18 had a decent map but it was very straightforward and it was seriously lacking some open wide roads. With the new Official Map expansion, you now have wide, open roads that are not only gorgeous to drive through but also equally challenging which is a welcoming addition to the game. For a decent price, you get challenging new bus routes and districts as well as many cool visual customization options. If the base game was too easy for you, the Official Map Expansion will certainly change that.
Final Score: 8.8/10