The Isle of Wight is a magical place and somewhere great to visit and spend a holiday; I once capsized in a canoe there and haven’t got over the trauma. It also boasts its own railway line, one that has been around since 1864 – the Island line – which operates between Ryde and Shanklin. It also has the best train stop in the UK, literally at the end of Ryde pier itself with the ocean all around you. So it’s a no-brainer that Train Sim World 2 has released – as part of many DLC packages – one that whisks us off to the island, with a showcase route. Everyone wants a day out by the sea, don’t they?
We reviewed Train Sim World 2 back in September 2020 and thoroughly enjoyed the features, tracks, and trains on offer. Since that time the team at Dovetail Games have released a host of new content, with this one being one of the most intriguing.
What you get for your buck with the IOW Ryde – Shanklin DLC in Train Sim World 2 is the chance to travel and drive a train along this historical, and slightly unusual, track right from Shanklin to the top of the Ryde pier. The stock being used is original 1938 London Underground stock, re-modified in order to be used on the track since 1989, used here because the standard mainline stock used wouldn’t fit through the Ryde tunnel. So one of the first things you notice as you begin the tutorial is how weird and small the train looks when it’s parked in the station, and because the platforms are higher it looks like you are towering over the train before you get in there to drive it.
The route that Train Sim World 2 focuses its attention on is an 8.5-mile length of track featuring the countryside and the seaside town of Ryde. It takes about 20 minutes to complete the route in a one way direction, as you take in everything the Isle of Wight has to offer. It comes with all the usual detail you expect from the Dovetail team, along with quite a detailed tutorial section that shows you how the train works and what order you need to action things to get the thing moving correctly. Even though I’ve spent many an hour with the original game and now Train Sim World 2, I still have trouble with this, making the mistake of skipping over instructions thinking I know best. Of course, I don’t. It’s not helped by the fact that this IOW offering features quite an old-fashioned piece of stock which is hard to get used to after driving the flashy German trains that take pride of place in the main game. Thankfully you’ll get used to it, and will quite quickly learn to love the old-school elements to it, like a madly oversized handbrake that you have to pull down after you park the train.
Included in the Ryde – Shanklin DLC are five scenarios to try out – basically the 20-minute route starting from different stations with a variety of route tasks. These are all good, but aren’t essential, and you’ll have no issue just driving the route on the timetable – just be aware that this does get a bit too repetitive after a while. There are lots of little secret collectibles to find though, things like ice-cream stands, cameras, and tickets to hunt throughout all the locations. And of course, if the driving gets too much you can always pop into the livery editor or pretend that you’re a passenger, staring out of the window if that’s your thing.
Visually, and as you’d expect to hear Train Sim World 2 looks good, and this Isle of Wight addition doesn’t change anything. The rolling stock and outside locations look good and are detailed throughout, but I still have a little problem with the frequency of passengers and the train platform being nearly empty. If anything it feels a little worse in this DLC; there are usually passengers that instead of wanting to hop aboard my train are happy to just stare mournfully into the distance on the platform. Expect all the usual bells, whistles and noises in the audio department though.
Train Sim World 2: Isle of Wight: Ryde – Shanklin on Xbox One is a piece of DLC that the Train Sim World enthusiasts will lap up. It features an iconic track and great piece of rolling stock that will have the fans salivating. It’s a pretty route too, especially the Ryde pier section that rolls along the seafront. I do however find that the more I play this game, the lack of an upgrade in passenger design and AI becomes all the more concerning, and I feel that Dovetail would do well to examine this issue as the franchise progresses. Possibly the price is a tad high for what you are getting here too, especially taking into account the amount of content and length of the route. But if you are one of the many who loves the base game, then this is once again going to be for you. For now though I’m off to get an ice cream and have a paddle in Ryde.