I’ve been playing train simulators for about 15 years now, I’m by no means a trainspotter but I’ve always found the rail network fascinating, I used to live in a flat that overlooked all the different trains coming and going from London Bridge station which is where my curiosity has come from.
As someone who now commutes from the Nort-East of England to London quite often you could only imagine my excitement when Dovetail Games announced that Train Sim World 4 was going to launch with part of the LNER Azuma route.
Train Sim World carries on the great work from the previous titles to bring you some awesome trains and exciting and varied route. As well as the Azuma on part of the East Coast Mainline, you can also drive The Flying Scotsman along the same route, this year for the first time you can drive the S-Bahn in Germany before crossing the border and into the foothills of the Austrian Alps with ÖBB’s 4024 Talent EMU, you can also head over to the US to drive the American Metrolink F125.
If you have played any of the previous Train Sim titles you’ll immediately feel comfortable, there has been some interface improvements with greater control over the HUD when driving the train, you can now make things more immersive by removing the speedometer in the bottom right corner and use the gauges on the trains control panel instead. Train Sim World can be a relaxing game but the more immersive things become the more challenging the game gets. A real driver learns the route and knows when to slow down, TSW4 does a lot to help you so having the ability to dial things back really makes things interesting.
One of the big changes is in the Scenario Planner, this year you have much greater control over what you want to do. You have the ability to chain paths together, including travelling on completely different section of tracks. You can control the weather and also add your own introduction text to scenarios.. Most impressively you can spawn AI trains at certain points of the track and send them off to ‘portals’ to increase congestion without blocking tracks.
The Livery Designer has had UI and UX improvements, and mostly important the ability to undo and redo changes to your designs. Custom Text is easier to use and you now have greater control over who can use the livery in the game. You can use up to 1000 layers which will help some more experienced designers come up with some incredible work.
There is of course a huge timetable for each train created by Dovetail as well as some scenarios but the real delight comes from the amazing TrainSim community who have already created plenty of scenarios to play giving a limitless amount of things to do. There have been improvements to the scoring system this year too, it encourages skilful driving, rewards players for using safety systems and penalises unprofessional driving. The whole system has been balanced to ensure that players feel adequately rewarded but encouraged to aim higher. A new Platinum Tier level has been introduced and this can only be achieved by using the safety systems while you drive.
Whatever you ability is, Train Sim World 4 does an excellent job of teaching you what to do with all the different types of trains. The training centre now has an enhanced and improved training framework where you can learn the basics of operating a range of trains including diesel, steam, and electric power before taking to the rails of the real world. Each class of train has their own unique controls so it can take time to get used to how each one operates. Even beyond the training section the game will give you advice if you forgot to do something, obviously if you are more experienced you’ll be given the option to this off.
Free Roam is a great way to get some practice in, you can jump into any train you own and get some practice in before taking on scenarios or complete the various tasks in the timetable mode.
If you are playing the game on a High End PC or Next Gen console you’ll be in awe of how beautiful the game looks, a lot of work has gone into Volumetric Fog, improved rendering and rain effects, is certainly is the best looking Train game around.
As excited as I was to drive the Azuma, I was left feeling a little flat by the scenarios Dovetail have created for this line and for this train. I’m hoping they add some better ones over time, but I never felt particularly challenged by any of them which was a shame. Driving in Germany is always a pleasure, the wonderful environments around you are also probably the best thing about it, meanwhile heading over to LA brings a unique challenge with some great scenarios.
Train Sim World 4
Overall Train Sim World 4 has made some excellent changes to the game, it's clear they have listened to their fanbase and have strived to keep them happy which is really great to see. It's the most fun you'll have driving trains apart from in real life!