In a world where publishers churn out new versions of FIFA, Call of Duty, and Football Manager (the list could go on), on an annual basis, and expect us to fork out a fortune for them, it doesn’t come as a surprise that British developers Dovetail Games have jumped on the bandwagon with Train Sim World 2020, albeit to a lesser extent.
After spending countless hours with Train Sim World last year, I said that the title was a “meticulously detailed and uncompromisingly-accurate railroad simulator that will provide train aficionados endless hours of enjoyment”, and thankfully, the free 2020 update builds on what made the base game so enjoyable for those who love the painstaking-detail of operating a passenger or freight locomotive.
The 2020 update is free to all users who have the base 2019 Train Sim World game installed, and includes new routes such as Germany’s Spessartrampe incline, New York Penn’s underground station, or Manchester’s Victoria Station. The PC version also includes the Peninsula Corridor, which explores the stunning landscape down California’s spine south from San Francisco. Sadly, console players will need to fork out for the Deluxe Edition or buy the route separately to enjoy this famous track, which is sure to rankle with some.
In addition to the new routes, the base 2020 upgrade improves the title’s UI and HUB, which, when coupled with the more detailed and though-out tutorials, means newcomers can get to grips with the often overwhelming number of controls needed to master these behemoth engines.
In addition, the developers have also incorporated an Action Points System that rewards you for completing tasks such as unloading and loading passengers, driving safely, and coupling and uncoupling carriages successfully. These points, in conjunction with a new completion and progress dashboard makes it very easy to see how you’re progressing throughout your chosen scenario. It also encourages you to try and try again; I often found myself restarting scenarios as I knew I could perform actions better.
Finally, the Journeys hub has been improved, allowing you to take in over 24 hours of sequential gameplay for each route, be that service timetables, unique scenarios or additional jobs across the network. However, the core gameplay elements remain the same, so if you didn’t find much joy last year, you’ll seldom find anything here to take your fancy.
There’s no doubt that Train Sim World 2020 feels like a more polished version of the base game, but sadly it’s easy to see why the base upgrade is free. Despite some eagerly-anticipated new features, the game is still basically the one that came out last year. Visually the game hasn’t improved, and while the locomotives look spectacular, the scenery is laughable at best with buildings popping in and out of view.
The tutorials are still narrated by someone who is as enthusiastic about trains as gamers are about micro-transactions, while bugs are still ever-present. During one scenario I accidentally turned the bell on and couldn’t turn it off for the entire journey, while in another journey my reverse engine got stuck in the forward position, meaning I couldn’t reverse and couple with new freight carriages.
Train Sim World’s 2020 upgrade certainly adds some much needed polish to the title, and is an essential download for those who love the meticulous detail simulators such as this offer. Newcomers will also benefit from the upgraded tutorials and HUB system as it makes it easier than ever to get up to speed with the controls and requirements of powering a locomotive.
Sadly though, the upgrade doesn’t fix the base game’s poor visuals or technical limitations, which given that the upgrade is free, isn’t too disheartening. That being said, the extra trains and routes which you can add aren’t cheap, and console gamers may feel aggrieved that they need to shell out for the content that is included as standard in the PC version.
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