Trains… they’re a bit of a sore subject just now, from not running due to strikes, weather disruption or good old signal failure. It’s fair to say, getting from A to B by rail is an utter nightmare, but if you have had enough of the real world’s carry on around the rail system; Dovetail Games have just the game for you, as they have just launched Train Sim World 4. Though if you’re jumping into the world of Train Sims you need to brace yourself to have a real think of what you want. As there are 7 different versions of the game you can buy – each including the core game, as well as a number of extra trains and routes. For this review we’ll be looking at the standard version of the game which comes with three routes out of the box, the Antelope Valley Line, East Coast Main Line, and the S-Bahn Vorarlberg line.
This instalment also has a number of different new features; like a photo mode, free roam mode, plus the scenario planner has been upgraded and so has the livery editor. As well as an overall tweak to the visuals; which includes a new fog system, as well as being able to customise your HUD to suit your taste. On the route front they’re all of a standard you would expect from the series, but we’ll give you a quick overview of them just now, starting with the East Coast Main Line. 80 miles all in from Peterborough to Doncaster with the stops at Grantham, Newark Northgate, and Retford in-between and is the longest UK route from the series so far. You’ll be controlling an LNER Class 801 on the route in both its 5-car and 9-car variants; on express passenger services complete with first and standard class, a food carriage and clocking speeds of 125mph along the way on its hour or so route.
The second route is the S-Bahn Vorarlberg line and is the first Austrian route in the game, as well as the first route to feature a national border crossing. The line features Germany to Bludenz, Austria, on which the S1 line runs. The route also features the branch to Lustenau, which sees use by S3 trains. Clocking in at 44 miles long, with 28 stations to stop in at along the way, and you’ll be using the ÖBB 4024 loco to get the job done over about an hour and a half. It’s a nice route mixing urban and countryside backgrounds with a dash of the industrial thrown in the mix, with some stand out mountain scenery. The last route is the Antelope Valley Line, which features the commuter line between Los Angeles Union Station and Lancaster and is 76 miles long with 13 stations along the way. Where you take control of the Metrolink’s EMD F125 locomotive (the star of this route by miles) which has been paired with the Hyundai Rotem carriages, and cab cars serve as the passenger rolling stock for this line… and it’s easily the dullest of the routes in the editions, as its mostly desert filled and a single-track affair once out of LA, with a point-to-point time of about 2 hours to complete.
Overall, the routes on show are a nice selection, showcasing a well-rounded roster of all the different locations and locos that you can expect in the Train Sim Word series if you feel flush and want to grab some of its DLC which there is a LOT of. The one add-on that is worth shelling out for is the Flying Scotsman, as it adds this historical steam loco to the mix and lets you rip along the East Coast Main Line in true style and from a bygone era, plus being a steam train it’s a nice change from the electric and diesel options. Though if you’re are a returning fan, you can import your Train Sim 3 profile complete with all your past routes i.e., DLC. Although you can only do this platform to platform (not cross platform), so for fans it’s very much like Train Sim 3 in that it’s a new HUB portal; with a few quality-of-life tweaks. Like the livery editor having undo and redo options… at last! Plus, you can now use up to 1000 layers on designs. Scenario planner also has more options, but it’s still not the easiest of things to get your head around. For those who enjoy building scenarios, they will get the most from the new options. Free roam mode is the most fun, as you jump on a route, spawn any train you want and pick your destination and then the game will give you a route in secs and away you go. Nice and simple and a lesson scenario planner could learn from.
Though the visuals have been worked on with the volumetric fog looking great in the dead of night, there were a few moments where we got hit by frame rate drop and odd texture popping. There was a time I would say that the Train Sim World games were an oddity, but now on it’s 4th game, it’s clear to see it’s a series that has found an audience and community who will be all over this instalment. But as a part time conductor (so to say)… do I feel there is a big enough jump from Train Sim World 3 to 4? No. The tweaks made will benefit the hardcore fans the most, though if you have a fondness for the new routes, this will be different. Or if you’re just looking see what the Train Sim World buzz is all about, this is by far the best starting point and is easy to get on board with.
An Xbox review copy of Train Sim World 4 was provided by Dovetail Games PR team, and it’s out now on PC, PlayStation and Xbox for around £50, though heavily dependent on the edition you buy.