LifeisXbox’s Train Sim World 3 review | When I was little, my grandparents lived next to one of the railways connecting the marshalling yard and my city’s big station. Conveniently on the small hill behind the garden, a myriad of trains would pass frequently. As a young, not even 5 years old toddler, I would often be in the guest room, looking out the window on a Saturday morning instead of watching cartoons to see them go by. 20 years later, however, I had all but forgotten this until my grandmother brought it up when I told her I was writing a review on a train game. So while my interest in trains besides whether they’ll be on time for once is long gone, I must say it has rekindled a small ember of the interest I once held in these tireless engines that ferry goods and people alike all across the world. So let’s take a look at Dovetail Games’ Train Sim World 3 and start my first earnest simulator game.
ℹ️ Reviewed on PC | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Operating a train | I’ll start out by saying that I’m surprised at how complicated it is to get even some of the simpler trains moving. There are many steps to any part of operating these vehicles. This can be pretty daunting at first, but these routines will become easier with practice. And you’ll be doing a lot of practice since locomotives of the same type might be rather similar, but other types might require you to manually pressurize the braking system, raise and lower the connection to the power wires or use a whole host of other subsystems. My favourites so far have been the ICE trains the base game offers. Both because of their slick design and relative ease of use, but also because I’ve been a passenger on them before. I would love to drive the route between Brussels and Cologne I take to go to Gamescom each year. There are a couple of gameplay modes available like timetables or scenarios. The former will let you experience the day-to-day experience of that route’s actual timetable as either a passenger or operator alike. Scenarios are where it gets really interesting, however, as you’ll be put in various different situations that’ll really test your mastery and train operating skills.
- Graphics | Photorealistic visuals and highly detailed models are a given when trying to simulate any serious topic. Luckily for train enthusiasts everywhere, Train Sim World 3 is very easy on the eyes. It actually might not be, as I was constantly zooming in left and right to read the fine print and small monitors around my locomotive. And while the details are stunning inside, outside of your cabin can be just captivating. Taking away from the experience somewhat are the surroundings outside of the train, as these are notably less detailed in places. While it’s not a total immersion breaker, some low poly buildings and frequent pop-in of objects could be done without. Even on high settings. Newly added to Train Sim World 3 is the weather system that aims to make every journey feel lifelike and unique. Newly introduced in Train Sim World 3 is a volumetric weather system. The clouds in the sky will dynamically change the lighting, rain or snowfall and even cause turbulence for your machines. While a bit more than just the graphical scope, most of their effects I’ve noticed were of that kind.
- Audio | Whenever I see a simulator game of any kind I’ve come to expect quality, realistic sound design. I’m happy to report that Dovetail Games was able to deliver on this front. From the purring of a heavy freight locomotive to the whizzing sound you hear in one of the high-speed trains when they get up to speed. But also that whiny sound modern trains make when they’re going slow has been made to the point where I can close my eyes and feel like I’m sitting in one of the wagons taking me for my daily commute. Those and other general train sounds will be familiar to anyone who’s taken a train in the last 10 or so years. What also feels very realistic are the audio queues and signalling inside the drivers’ cabin. An example that immediately comes to mind is hearing certain instructions in German when operating an ICE train.
- Tutorials | Luckily for me, and probably you too, Train Sim World 3 has a host of detailed yet easy-to-follow tutorials. Starting off in the “Train” -ing centre you’re greeted by all your locomotives neatly lined up and ready to be taken for a spin. Segmented into conveniently sized chunks of information you’ll be guided through all the basic steps from powering on the locomotive to getting it moving and coupling wagons to take on your journey. These are absolutely essential to figuring out how to operate these rather specialist machines. Yet when you do get the hang of one, it’ll feel very satisfying.
- Train facts | A small thing I really enjoy about Train Sim World 3 was whenever the narrator that helped you with tutorials would give you some exposition about the vehicle you’re currently operating. Who made it? How many of these were produced? Why did it get the nickname it has? It’s probably old news to those with an active interest in trains, but to newcomers like myself, this is welcome trivia.
I didn’t exactly have mixed feelings about anything.
What we Disliked
- Monetization model | While it’s sadly been part of the standard practice in the simulator genre for years now; if you want the entire package you’ll need to fork over more than a pretty penny to Dovetail. While the base game starts you off with 9 locomotives; 4 routes and the training circuit, for any additional content you’re generally looking at between €13.99 to €29.99. Seeing as how the standard edition alone will cost you €44.99 at the time of writing, I find these prices pretty egregious, regardless of licensing and work put in. There is a silver lining to all this as anything you’ve already bought for the predecessor carries over into Train Sim World 3.
How long to beat the story | A good 20 hours.
How long to unlock all achievements | This will vary wildly since some are locked behind DLC trains and routes.
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Hey there. Thomas is the name, Sci-fi, action and (J)RPG’s are the game. I strongly prefer co-op over PVP games. Whenever possible, you may find me run wild at a convention in western Europe. Certified anime enjoyer.