Train Sim World 2
Publisher: Dovetail Games.
Developer: Dovetail Games.
Release Date: 20th August 2020
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Size : 13.7 GB
Xbox.com: £24.99 / $29.99
Amazon.co.uk: £39.97 – Collectors Ed (Includes 3 x £24.99 DLC packs)
CDKeys £22.99 / £26.99 -Deluxe Ed (Includes 1 x £24.99 DLC)
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Train Sim World 2 may have released back in August 2020, but with a little more time to dedicate to management and simulation games, I decided to revisit the title, and while I’m certainly not a rail-aficionado, I’ve come to appreciate exactly what TSW is all about.
Before this giant elephant in the room crushes us, it’s worth mentioning the DLC which many will have heard about.
Including the preserved packs (DLC from TSW2020 updated and brought forward to TSW2) there’s already 16 route DLC’s (usually costing £24.99) and 13 additional packs adding extra locomotives to many of the extra routes).
Adding the entire backlog of DLC to your collection would usually cost upwards of £500, but with collectors editions, and regular sales, it’s easy to build a modest collection over time, however, you’ll be pleased to know that not a single piece of DLC is required to enjoy TSW2 to it’s fullest.
It might sound like TSW2 at only £24.99 is merely a small taste of what you can expect with the DLC adding up, however, it’s every bit a complete package and the DLC simply gives players the option to (vastly) expand their experience depending on what they enjoy doing the most.
To start off, TSW2 concentrates around three primary styles, Freight, High-speed trains, and smaller passenger services. Each of these offers quite a different experience to the next.
With the base game, you’ll receive the London Underground Bakerloo line, the High-Speed, modern German route from Koln and the challenging curves and inclines of the Freight trains on the Sand Patch grade in Pennsylvania.
Being in Britain, I chose to concentrate on the Underground first, short distances between stops, judging speed and braking distances to keep on a strict time-table to get your passengers safely to their destination, the high-speed services might not have as many stops to make, but when travelling at over 100mph you’ll need to keep a close eye on signals and distances to ensure your journey is a safe one, finally, the freight system will have you switching tracks and coupling to your freight before lugging the heavy loads to their destination.
With each route, there are between 5 and 8 scenarios, which might not sound a lot, but with around 200 timetable journeys and 100 jobs/collectables to work through, there’s plenty to keep you occupied long beyond those initial scenarios or you can just waltz around freely, take control of any train or simply join the passengers for the journey.
I’d take a pretty well-educated guess that working through all of the journeys and collectables for each of the three routes in the main game would take upwards of hundreds of hours, which drives home exactly how great value that £24.99 rrp label is.
Looking back at the DLC packs, adding an entirely new route, 1-3 new locomotives and it’s easy to see someone spending more time on that £25 DLC than most AAA titles could dream of offering, the best thing is, users can select the route, trains or locations that suit their preferences and to ensure the DLC is providing the best value for them, so being in Britain, I’ve already picked up a few of the UK bases routes and will be reviewing them in the near future too, but for now, let’s carry on looking at the core package and what exactly it offers the growing number of simulation game fans.
As with any simulation game, there’s a fine balance between realism and accessibility, not many people have actually driven a variety of trains around, so many won’t appreciate how complex they can be (I know I certainly didn’t have any idea) and while there’s all manner of buttons and switches, most you won’t have to use, but if you fancy turning on the cab light, heater or switching on the wipers when it starts raining, pretty much every action you can think about is included, but no doubt those more familiar with the inside of a 1972 MkII Stick TfL will point out a small switch in the cab that doesn’t function.
I’ve heard that it’s not 100% accurate, some buttons might not be labelled or working, but I feel Dovetail games have done a fantastic job of keeping that balance and making it more accessible to gamers who might not have spent their youth on the railway.
Each locomotive looks, feels and drives completely different to the next, and the level of detail overall is outstanding, the interior and exterior of the trains are highly detailed, and surrounding areas are of high quality too, some could argue that a few too many houses on that street looked similar, but when your often flying past them at 80mph or above, it’s not a major inconvenience and it’s great to see many major landmarks visible in the distance, as well as tunnels, stations and bridges as realistically placed as I imagine they need to be for people who know the routes to appreciate their detail rathetr than nit-pick if a specific tree isn’t in place.
The overall presentation is high quality, there’s 4K on the Xbox One X and Series X and very few hiccups, I’ve noticed a handful of frame-drops here and there, but nothing at all to worry about.
I’ve personally not got any complaints about the graphics and while some distant features could be more details and varied, given the details closer to the user and the train are all high quality it’s hard to be too picky about what’s on the horizon.
The sound is what really hit home, and while having a relaxed game late at night, I’ve often switched on the headphones to immerse myself in the realistic sounds. While I’ve not been on a train journey in the last year thanks to Covid, I definitely remember that screech of the underground, and the de-dum of the wheels shifting tracks, these are all replicated with a nostalgic accuracy that makes me feel like I’m back at Piccadilly station, but without the bad crowds,
I’m not sure if TSW2 is aimed at a post-covid world, but you won’t see bustling stations, and trains packed with people pushing to get in before the doors close, stations are somewhat quiet and you’ll often be lucky to find more than a dozen or so passengers disembarking, but when the core enjoyment comes from the actual trains and controlling them, it’s a small detail.
Still, it would be nice is more parts of the surrounding worlds (and people in them) were a little more accurately represented, but most will appreciate the processing demand that would place on the game.
I’m well aware that some people will read this (or maybe not even bother) because they feel a train simulator might be boring, but there’s a charm to guiding these powerful workhorses from point to point, a finesse to judging those braking distances to get to each platform with time to spare and the overall workings of the cabs, often having to enter a security key, and make precise adjustments before setting off that adds to the challenge, while keeping the game quite a relaxing experience.
With games like Flight, Bus and Farm Simulators getting increasingly popular on home consoles and more accessible than ever, I’ve found Train Simulator to offer as much depth and longevity as I can hope for, and as mentioned before, it keeps things really accessible, especially with those early scenario’s which help ease you in to the workings of each train.
Some will be put off by the idea of so much DLC, but when you start to appreciate how much choice that offers you in the long run, you soon start to understand the overall value of TSW2 (especially the three routes in the base game) is a fantastic package.