It was around this time last year that I took my first steps into the Train Simulator franchise with this review. At the end of the Verdict, I said that I had to differentiate it in my mind from most games as it is a pure blood simulator without many of the ‘gamey’ elements that you find in something like European Truck Simulator or Farming Simulator. A year has passed since then, the game has been updated, and I am taking the opportunity to deliver a Verdict on the new version.
UPDATE – The helpful PR for Dovetail Games got in touch to highlight some points of interest. The free update to existing owners of Train Simulator 2014 or older is technical and adds the new TS Academy. The full version of Train Sim 2015 features the three new routes in England, Germany and America along with associated new trains. I’ll be checking these out and writing a little bit about them for Our Week in Games this coming Sunday.
One last thing, the mini-Christmas route I mentioned was a DLC from and older version of the game. Despite this, my Verdict still stands as the TS Academy is a great way to bring new players into the series, and I highly recommend anyone with an interest in trains, or simulation games, checks it out.
It is worth making a note that if you previously owned Train Simulator 2014, you receive a free update to the new release. It is a nice gesture from Dovetail Games, but it is somewhat essential to allow players to keep up to date without paying out again. The Train Simulator franchise has a massive amount of DLC available containing new routes and new trains. If players built up their collection of routes and trains over a period of time and were then forced to buy the full-game every year, there would be some mighty unhappy people.
While the free update allows past-players to access the new TS Academy, I can’t tell whether the free update automatically includes the three new routes that are part of TS 2015, or whether they have to be purchased separately. Having had a review code for the game last year, I was automatically updated, but I’m not sure whether that is a legacy of the review code that I used on Steam. I’m sure that longtime Train Sim players will know how it works. Regardless, somewhere and somehow, there are three new routes on offer along with associated new trains.
My interest was piqued by the new TS Academy which updates the tutorials that were present last year in an much friendlier and welcoming manner. There is a small variety of trains you can use in the Academy, they range from inter-city electrics to some big, beasty diesel locomotives. There is a dedicated sequence of training missions for each train which cover everything from moving and stopping to linking up with other carriages and, perhaps most important of all…how to make sense of the signals.
Without the TS Academy I wouldn’t have been able to complete a proper Career mission from London Victoria to East Clacton. It was a fairly easy route without any red signals to worry about, but I don’t think I successfully completed any missions last year. It is interesting to note that in my version, the tutorials from last year are still included. While these are no way as welcoming to newcomers as the Academy is, they are worth checking out…if they are present in the game still for newcomers.
The free yearly updates are great in some ways, but I can understand why franchises such as FIFA don’t do them as a complete newgame allows for a clean break from the past. That is a musing for another time though.
If you have been scared of trying out something like Train Simulator before, but have an interest in it, this year is definitely worth taking a punt on. The Academy is a great place to learn, and there is plenty of content beyond that to keep you interested even without resorting to DLC.
Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available/Reviewed – PC
Please check this post for more on our scoring system. Review based on Steam code supplied by PR