Trains have always been romanticized to some extent, and for good reason. The thought of going somewhere new while listening to the rhythmic sounds of the wheels and watching the countryside roll by is a relaxing concept for many. Nowadays trains are quieter and faster, and most people’s exposure to them will be much more limited, but Railway Empire provides a great outlet for those who want to return to a simpler time of the train.
Railway Empire – Complete Collection makes its way to Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4 and contains all of the previously released DLC. This includes Mexico, The Great Lakes, Crossing the Andes, Great Britain & Ireland, France, Germany, Northern Europe, and Down Under. Not to mention all of the content included in the base game, which is a lot on its own.
For those of you who are new to Railway Empire, the game originally released back in January of 2018 and was previously reviewed by us at TheXboxHub. In it, you are tasked with building up your railway empire by connecting cities and resources across vast landscapes during historical periods. It’s a beautiful game with great graphics, stylized character portraits, and a ride-along feature that lets you follow along as trains follow their route. You can research new trains to use, hire staff, buy shares in competitors’ businesses, purchase industries in your most affluent settlements and, of course, build massive train networks.
The different locomotives you can buy each have different stats and purposes; Railway Empire boasts over 80 historically accurate locomotives. In all honesty, I don’t know enough to comment on this claim specifically, but I have confidence that the developers of Railway Empire take enough pride in what they’ve done to provide an accurate experience.
There is a campaign mode that introduces these mechanics, showing how the trains and railways work – an essential first stop for people picking up the game for the first time. For me, the building was fairly intuitive until I started trying to figure out how the directional lights worked. The short version is, after trying to figure it out I managed to fail and succeed simultaneously. One train would go the path I wanted it to go, while another would sit in a town while a pop-up told me there was no way for it to make its route. It’s not the easiest thing in the world and I do wish it was less finicky.
Thankfully, there are sandbox and free modes that allow you to change settings and one of those settings allows your trains to pass through each other. Ironically, there are AI in the game that you can compete with and their default setting is that their trains can go through each other and they just have to pay more to build their tracks. The point I’m trying to make is, don’t feel bad if you pick up the game and can’t quite figure out the directional lights – even the computer doesn’t want to deal with them.
On the other hand, for those who want even more of a challenge, Railway Empire offers a few challenge maps. These maps have predetermined settings and if you manage to complete the tasks in a set amount of time then the score gets posted to the leaderboard. This isn’t much different than how the campaign works. Each level will have objectives to complete and if you don’t beat them by a certain in-game year then you fail. There are quite a few different campaigns in the base game, each of which spans multiple time periods and the DLC just adds to that. There is no shortage of content.
As touched on earlier, there are plenty of things to do besides building tracks. One is hiring staff. Each train can have its own crews working them and each staff member has a brief description of their personality, along with a bio on who they do and don’t work well with. Some are more skilled than the others and when competing with the AI it’s even possible to poach their staff members and bring them onto your team. However, everything that you can do, the AI can do too. Hire a journalist to do a hit piece on their railway, expect them to do the same. Hire a spy to steal one of their advancements, be careful when they send one your way as well.
If you’re sick of sharing the map with a sassy AI character then the other option is to visit the business tab in the menu and buy up your competitor’s stocks. Once you get to 100 percent ownership you can merge companies and take control of their assets. But, as I said, whatever the player can do, the AI can do too. Start falling behind and the AI will seize the opportunity to start buying up your shares as well.
All of these elements mesh together to form a really interesting and complex system. For me, I was more a fan of the casual aspects of the game. Specifically, I really enjoyed the Great Lakes DLC map. As someone who has spent my entire life growing up in the United States’ Midwest, seeing the states that I grew up in and around featuring so prominently in a game was exciting. And really that’s the amazing thing with the DLC: there are so many different places offered that many people will be able to choose one that is close to home.
Railway Empire – Complete Collection on Xbox One is a fun game, it has beautiful visuals, in-depth systems, and allows a ton of freedom. It won’t be for everyone; the sheer amount of content can be overwhelming and learning some of the more complex elements of the game will seem like a daunting task. Get over the learning curve though and you’ll be rewarded with countless hours of fun, and there is always the option of going the easy route. It would be impossible to fit everything into one review, but if you like tycoon games and are a fan of trains, then Railway Empire – Complete Edition will give you countless hours of fun.