Usually, I’m quite split when it comes to games that literally feel like work. Some games that take to this concept find a good balance between fun and proactive, whereas others feel like your standard nine to five. With that in mind I was admittedly quite skeptical about Train Sim World but surprisingly, I came out feeling quite accomplished. Immediately, in regards to its complexity, Train Sim World walks a fine line between accessible and constrained, but thanks to Dovetail’s care and attention to the former slightly more than the latter, this is a game that almost anyone can enjoy.
The game includes a selection of trains running across iconic lines that you, the player, are tasked with managing. Each train requires a certain knowledge-threshold to overcome and utilize, though a robust and easy to digest tutorial will deliver you a firm understanding as to how everything functions. These will teach you the simplicity; startup, stopping, headlights and so forth, right up to the more complicated matters that you’ll need to attend to. I have to admit that I’m not usually one for too much hand-holding, but for a game such as this, it’s a very necessary addition.
Train simulator games are pretty much unheard of on consoles. I’m not sure whether this is due to a lack of interest or whether or not developers are afraid they may not sell as well as they do on the PC, but after playing Train Sim World, I can safely say that this experience is refreshing, if indeed not entirely compelling. With that to the side, once you get through the learning curve, Train Sim World offers a lot of tense fun. It’s also surprisingly free, allowing players to wander around the immediate location or even take a step into a carriage and simply sit back and soak up the beauty of the ride.
Sure, you can be the train driver, but the addition of being able to walk around freight yards and stations helps to break up the pace of the game whenever you call for it. That’s not to mention that you can toy around with some settings to adjust the aesthetics to your liking or mood; weather and seasons included. This makes running any of the several (and I mean several) authentic train journeys, driver or passenger, a captivating experience, bolstered further by the fact that you can stop off and explore until your heart’s content. That’s the freedom of the game out of the way, so, what about the gameplay structure?
There’s a heap of different situations that the game will throw at you, to which you’ll need to respond to quite diligently. Train Sim World never feels like a chore though, as tense as it can be, it never truly lets go of that relaxing and satisfying nature. I must point out that if you’re expecting an easy ride, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Train Sim World emphasizes the “sim” in its title. Meaning that when you’re ready to put in the effort, the game will gladly take your challenge. Operating a train and getting it from A to B on time is a lot of work, but that accomplishment that you feel when you know you’re the reason everything is functioning as well as it is, is empowering.
Each distinct type of train will behave in accordance to their real-world counterpart, giving the game some added depth in the gameplay department. The varying locations all bring their own unique themes into the proverbial fold too, adding to the game’s visual diversity. Although it would have been nice to see more locations added (perhaps more will arrive in due course), there’s no shortage of content to soak up and the game maintains this well by serving up its, previously alluded to, differing tasks. This can include connecting trains, pulling freight and everything else that you would expect to see in a game of this type.
My only gripe is that once you’re in full motion from one start point to your destination, there’s little else to do outside of sight-seeing or general mingling. Train Sim World delivers everything that it set out to achieve, but some added refinement would have gone down an absolute treat. Still, with that in mind, and although this game will likely only be appreciated by a niche group, Train Sim World is a solid simulator that ticks all of the boxes that it needed to. The audio cues are magnificently authentic and despite the occasional texture issue with the visuals, the game looks well detailed, and often, gorgeous.
Train Sim World is a robust yet accessible game that caters for a wide range of its material’s responsibilities. The game does a good job at feeding you into its intricacies and once there, rarely fails to maintain its allure. It’s also quite free in its approach, enabling players to explore and drive at a leisurely pace. Not perfect nor groundbreaking by any means, but it does achieve what it sets out to accomplish.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.