It’s that time of year again: the time where every six months or so I switch back on my copy of Railway Empire on Xbox One and try to remember how to play it all over again. This usually involves me staring stupidly at the controls and game menus for a couple of hours before muscle memory kicks in and things all come flooding back; although I still have trouble laying signals at the side of the track. But why am I going back into Railway Empire for more? Well, once more there is some new DLC in place, allowing the overall game to continue its globe conquering journey. This time though it’s not just one country we get to visit, but a whole area in Scandinavia, as the Railway Empire – Northern Europe DLC lets us build more tracks and unite the whole area. So let me dust down my driver’s hat and see what the new contents have to offer.
As I’ve said many times previously, I really like Railway Empire, and the plethora of DLC bits that have come to the game since the launch of the base piece are well thought out. It is a detailed sim with loads of stuff to do, and for those who think of themselves as either fans of the railway or the sim genre, it’s a must-buy. I do find the controls a bit fiddly, but never so much that they are able to destroy the enjoyment of the experience. The DLC packs so far have provided a wealth of extra trains, locations, goods and scenarios, keeping the interest for the game very healthy indeed, providing hundreds of hours of content that have taken us to Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, the UK and Ireland. This time though our journey starts in the lovely country of Sweden.
Let’s start with the new Scenario chunk of story that the Northern Europe content pack brings – Hibernation. The timeframe of this is set between the years 1853 and 1870 and involves the Swedish Government hiring you to build a railway network linking the trading routes of all the countries, providing much-needed supplies and goods for the people there. This time it’s a tricky proposition, mainly as there are a ton of watery obstacles to get over, like lakes and rivers. It is however always nice to see a bit of extra content in terms of background lore, and this DLC certainly introduces you to the new map and this brave new world.
But other than that area, what do you get that is actually new? Well, for the train fanatics, there is a special treat in the form of three new engines; the Odin (2-2-2), Prins August (2-4-0) and SJB II (4-6-0). There are also up to 30 new cities to link up to the rail network, covering places like Malmo and Stockholm, whilst 10 new trading goods are able to deliver new produce to the citizen – crispbread and the best cheese in the world are both in place.
Further to all that though and there is also the ‘concession’ feature which separates the map into segments, leaving you to buy access to other parts of the map with your hard-earned money, providing an extra challenge in the process.
Even with all the new additions, Railway Empire plays very much as it has in the past. The game doesn’t do anything new in the way of mechanics but, like I’ve previously mentioned, that isn’t a bad thing as the game works well enough anyway. Yes it can be a bit fiddly to control at times, but I think that can be said of the vast majority of Sim-style games that come to console. And nicely, if you just want to jump in to mess around, the sandbox mode lets you open up the whole map, providing unlimited money to just let you do what you want without any constraints.
Railway Empire still looks great too. The land here is full of snow and wonder, reminding of The Great Lakes DLC that released back in 2018. Purists may wish to comment on the accuracy of the trains much better than I can, but as the layman they look good enough to me. The cartoon characters that give out the missions are always nicely drawn too, always able to put a smile on my face.
Railway Empire – Northern Europe on Xbox One is another solid entry in the DLC market for Railway Empire, a game that has already given fans and train enthusiasts a ton of content. The price is pretty good for something that gives you a whole new map to play with, new engines, new routes and stuff to trade, but I do believe that in order to completely enjoy everything – especially that of the new Scenario – you’ll need to be hugely dedicated to the game.