Train Sim World 2 has a wealth of downloadable content and the Great Western Express DLC was the first to catch my eye with a UK route and the iconic HST.
With already owning a few of the route DLC packages, there’s a range of value with some like the Isle of White DLC. only offering limited value, while others have far more content.
Firstly it’s important to note that Great Western Express is DLC from the Prestige collection. Originally released on Train Simulator in 2017/2018 and brought forward to work with Train Sim World 2, it’s a great way of adding more content to the game especially for those moving over from the old title, but the overall production value isn’t as high as the more recent DLC made specifically for the latest release.
Let’s start off with a look at what this package offers as a whole,
Firstly there’s the route between London’s Paddington Station and Reading, a stretch of 36 miles which covers a total of 16 stations with plenty of sidings and stops giving a total of 30 locations.
The route is well varied with scenery covering residential and industrial areas from the capital with countryside stretches on the way to reading, there’s plenty of bridges, roads, multi-track sections and other trains on the line, and it’s only let down by a few areas which have landscape elevation issues where the ground occasionally sits above the track, it doesn’t affect gameplay at all, but it feels a little odd when it looks like your train is ploughing through a sand dune.
We’ve also got 3 new locomotives, starting with the BR Class 166, a popular diesel multiple unit which has been on the rails since 1993 and has only got more popular especially in the last 5 years.
The second train is the iconic Class 43 “HST” also known as the Intercity 125, which boasts a top speed of 125mph, since first appearing in 1976 the HST has been seen all over Britain with many units still in operation today.
The third locomotive added with the Great Western Express DLC is the Class 66 Diesel freight haulier known as The Shed, it’s slow, heavy and extremely powerful.
Between these three locomotives, there’s a great range of diversity with the 166 relatively easy to handle, the HST is a lot faster and will test your braking distances with more complex controls and finally, the class 66 is more demanding with manual braking meaning you won’t just need to slow down, you’ll need to keep a careful eye on exactly how much pressure those brakes are delivering.
With 3 locomotives, a wide selection of stations both small and large, there’s already quite a lot of content for one DLC, and that’s only scratching the surface.
There’s 5 training modules, 5 scenarios and a massive 274 timetabled routes to work through, 166 on the Class 166, 95 for the HST and 13 freight routes.
There’s also a good selection of collectables, with safety signs and route maps to place, and 25 beacons to collect, the 50 signs are easier to locate due to the blank boards they go on being a dead giveaway, but the beacons are tough to spot and with the larger stations will take plenty of exploring to find them all.
Being part of the preserved collection the Great Western Express route add-on was first released for Train Sim on Xbox nearly 3 years ago, so graphically it’s a bit flakey in places.
Flying down the track at speeds of up to 100mph in The Class 166 and over 120 in the HST, everything looks fine, but when stationary at many locations you’ll see a fair few blurry textures especially when you get up close.
It’s mostly forgivable considering how much ground we’re talking about, but it’s nice to see that this is one area that’s been addressed with newer DLC.
There are really only two other issues with Great Western Express, firstly is the first tutorial, half-way through it insists that you press “Y” to return to driver mode, and sadly the command doesn’t function, which makes that scenario impossible to complete.
It’s known by the developers so maybe we’ll get a fix soon, but it’s a little awkward that this crept through quality control.
Finally are the landscape issues mentioned earlier, it’s easy to look past, but even my girlfriend thought my train had derailed when she glanced at the screen to see the track completely covered by land.
Those few annoyances aside, there’s more than enough positives, the three locomotives are giving us a fantastic range of driving styles, the sound is top-notch across the board, and the route offers plenty of stops, varied scenery and the 274 timetabled routes will take anyone dozens, if not hundreds of hours to work through,
With both of the passenger trains being incredibly popular, there’s also the appeal that many players will have been on, or at least seen one, if not both of them.
In conclusion, it’s fair to say that the Great Western Express DLC is certainly recommended, and if you can forgive the few graphical hiccups, it more than justifies it’s usual £24.99 price-tag, especially when you compare it to some packs with barley offer half of the content.
We’re slowly working through more of the DLC packs, but I’m pretty sure Great Western Express will place highly when we release our top 10 of TSW2 add-ons.