In lockdown you start to miss the little things; a quick cheeky pint on a Friday afternoon or meeting friends for a coffee and a chat. I have missed travelling, having meetings and utilising the rail network to get to different places. Luckily, with Train Sim World 2 and all its DLC, I can experience train travel from both the driver’s and passenger’s point of view, giving the chance to visit all manner of locations. It is with Train Sim World 2 that sees me back on to the rails again with a new piece of DLC covering the route from Kings Cross St Pancras in London through the Garden of England that is Kent. Yep, this is the Southeastern High Speed: London St Pancras – Faversham DLC.
I’ll admit that it seems as if I’ve been playing Train Sim World and driving virtual trains for years now, but that doesn’t mean that every time I load up the game and get in the driver’s cab I don’t forget everything, even how to open the doors. Thankfully how Dovetail Games have created Train Sim World 2 soon it all comes flooding back and luckily the tutorials at the beginning of the Southeastern DLC pack take you step by step through the basics once again – a godsend for newcomers and seasoned idiots like me.
So, let’s start by looking at what you get for your money with the Southeastern High Speed DLC, and that starts with a quick history lesson, for free. The Chatham mainline dates back to the 1860s and it was born to provide a much-needed service link for the Medway towns and the city of London. It was initially a commuter train but it could be quite a slow ride and a much-needed upgrade was required. In 2009 the clever train people developed the line into the High Speed 1 route, something that has provided quick trains and fast travel times for a decade now.
With Train Sim World 2’s Southeastern High Speed content you get to experience the thrills of the 51-mile route that takes you from London to Faversham, with all the stops on the way, from Stratford to Ebbsfleet. It’s extremely detailed – as all the content in these games are – in how the platforms, routes, and trains have been designed by Dovetail. Here you will be able to drive the BR Class 395 EMU, which is the high-speed train celebrating its 10th anniversary, with a choice of liveries including the ‘Trainbow’, celebrating Pride. You also get to drive the old-fashioned BR Class 375 EMU, which will give you that classic commuter experience across the Kent countryside.
One thing I noticed from my first few playthroughs is that these trains are much easier to start driving than any of the other experiences. The whole setting up of the train, getting it going and, eventually, stopping seems much more streamlined and easy to use. The route is a long one mind, and when you wish to take in the whole thing expect to be driving for around an hour. There is a signaling system to get used to, some manual power charging to be had at Ebbsfleet, and the usual secret things to find around the stations like maps to find.
It’s nice that there are some training modules to begin with and then five scenarios to get your teeth into and explore. I found all this to be interesting and a substantial upgrade from the Isle of Wight DLC that last rolled out. The route isn’t as inspiring as some of those locations, but I found it absorbing and well-designed.
Visually and everything Train Sim World 2 delivers is very good, especially regarding the excellent train design and attention to detail in the cabin and liveries. The platforms themselves and the Kent countryside hold up well and there is nothing better than switching the camera to the outside view as you zoom through the world. I found Kings Cross St Pancras strangely quiet and empty though – something the bigger stations seem to always be like in these games, which takes the player out of the simulation somewhat. I also struggle with night driving, especially in the smaller cabs of the BR Class 375 EMU, as it just feels too flat and… dark. It does seem to be a little busier in terms of passenger numbers, but there are still a lot of twins present, however I guess that isn’t the focus or thrust of the game.
As always and in terms of the audio there is a great voice-over once again; one that happily provides clear instructions about what to do, guiding you through the DLC. And there’s no debate about the sounds coming from the trains – they are fantastic and the audio team have done a tremendous job with that and the outside environments.
The Train Sim World 2: Southeastern High Speed: London St Pancras – Faversham DLC on Xbox is a solid piece of DLC that will keep the veteran Train Sim World fans very happy indeed. This is a big route to add in and it comes with some nice features, particularly in the easy-to-drive trains. It might not be as showy as what has come before it, but it delivers a well-rounded commuter experience that enthusiasts will love.