A first-class On Rails Sim

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When it comes to train simulators, none do it better than Dovetail Games. The studio is the name behind the wildly popular Train Sim World franchise that has dominated the lives of train sim fans since the first iteration in 2018. Fast forward to the tracks and Dovetail Games is back with its third installment and what might be the best train sim yet.

Similar to previous editions, the base game comes with a handful of trains and routes. Train Sim World 3 is no different, with nine different trains in different liveries dispatched in the standard edition, spread over three different routes: Schnellfahrstrecke Kassel – Würzburg Route, Cajon Pass: Barstow – San Bernardino Route, and Southeastern Highspeed: London St Pancras – Ashford Intl & Faversham Road. Two more steam trains are available if you take the deluxe edition as it comes with the superb Spirit of Steam Liverpool Lime Street – Crewe route. This is a stellar range of trains, which is further aided by the many add-ons that have been introduced over the years.

The first thing that fixes Train Sim World 3 In addition to its predecessors, there’s an all-new Training Center that allows players to learn about trains and learn about each other’s safety systems. The training center is modeled after a real-world test track in Germany and essentially adds another route to the game due to its size. Train Sim World 2 players can also continue to enjoy their previously purchased routes and locomotives in Train Sim World 3, but no new features will be included (although the fact that you can take old trains for a ride is enough on its own). Dovetail Games has also helpfully updated all store listings, showing which add-ons are compatible with the new title.

Check out the Train Sim World 3 launch trailer below:

Weather has been a key area of ​​development for Dovetail Games and it’s clear to see as you play through some of TSW3′s scenarios. Much like previous titles (and in real life), the weather can have a direct impact on your trains. From how you start and stop at stations, to the tasks you perform in the train cabin while you wait for passengers to disembark. Bad weather increases braking distance, slows acceleration and causes more sparks from electric trains. The brand new dynamic weather system allows players to drive trains in all kinds of conditions, such as snow and thunderstorms. These will put your driving skills to the test and it will certainly make you sympathize the next time you have to go to the office by train in real life.

Another big addition to Train Sim World 3 is the introduction of volumetric skies. This visual addition removes the 2D textures that have been a franchise staple for years. In addition to the big visual additions, there are some smaller ones that don’t go unnoticed, like the kick (when the train kicks debris off the tracks), and platform passengers reacting to certain weather conditions and dressing appropriately. All of these improvements really make immersion easier.

As with previous iterations, players can participate in scenarios or scheduled services between destinations. The duration of the scenarios varies depending on the train you hope to drive. For example, the Cajon Pass scenarios are starting to push the clock back, but the UK-based commuter scenarios are considerably shorter. The duration of each scenario is influenced by actual travel times, further immersing you in the simulation. The variation in storyline length makes the game incredibly accessible; I found myself jumping just to perform short serves in whatever free time I unexpectedly find myself with, saving the longer scenarios for times when I have hours to devote to the cause.

Train Sim World 3 / Credit: Dovetail Games

Harnessing the power of next-gen consoles, Train Sim World 3 enters an exciting new era. Having previously encountered performance and optimization issues with TSW2 on PlayStation 4, I was eager to see how it would hold up on the new consoles. Of my time with Train Sim World 3 I’ve had a largely positive experience since launch, with the PlayStation 5 handling all the new visual additions with ease.

What’s great about Train Sim World 3 is that Dovetail Games gives you the freedom to do whatever you want, respecting the rules of the rails of course. Catering to train fans of all skill levels, you’ll never be stuck for things to do in the cabin. The attention to detail is second to none, with every dial and button included exactly as on the real train counterpart. Increased freedom also comes into play in other aspects of Train Sim World 3, especially when it comes to creating custom scenarios to play. Future add-on packs will also be decoupled from their routes, meaning you’ll have more freedom to operate purchased locos beyond their intended setting. Even better, if you’re bored with the standard operating liveries, you can even create your own, before sharing them with the Creator’s Club.

One of my biggest fights with TSW2 was the motion picture camera, and how tedious it was to jump in and out of the booth. Ironic as it sounds, I hate playing from the cabin of the train, I’d much rather see the outside of the train as it glides along the tracks, then switch to the inside view during tight drop-off maneuvers or when preparation for departure. Fortunately, when I first jumped into TSW3, and I tried the outdoor camera, it was perfect. Thanks to this, you can quickly get the right angle while following your high-speed train. It’s really like Train Sim World 3 has grown from the sometimes ruthless experience that has been TSW2which is really nice to see.

Train Sim World 3 / Credit: Dovetail Games
Train Sim World 3 / Credit: Dovetail Games

The Global Rolling Stock List lets you delve into routes around the world, while focusing on the ones that matter most to you. For me personally, being based in the UK, I naturally gravitated towards the south east high speed route, and my previously purchased (de TSW2) Great Western Express routes. However, thanks to the countless add-on packs that are now compatible with the latest installment, the possibilities are endless.

Train Sim World 3 in a way, it feels like the “ultimate crossover” when it comes to training sims. Dovetail Games incorporated the best parts of the series and improved fundamental gameplay elements such as weather and lighting.

As I write this, Train Sim World 3 is out and available, but if you might be unsure whether to buy the latest installment, this little review helped you decide on the latest from Dovetail. With the vast collection of add-ons and new visual features and routes, Dovetail Games has created the most complete and detailed railroad simulation to date. Train Sim World 3 is here to stay, and I can’t wait to see what add-ons are introduced down the line. If you liked Train Sim World 2, and you crave more train simulation action, then you should definitely consider the latest installment. Whereas Train Sim World 3 doesn’t completely change the game, it stays true to the series and is definitely the best addition yet.

Advantages: Incredible attention to detail, extensive collection of accessories and a lot of freedom

The inconvenients: Limited route/train selection included, basic environment design

For fans of: Train Sim World 2, Train Sim World 2020 and Train Life: a railway simulator

8/10: Excellent

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