Let’s head back to the years of steel, coal and steam.
We’re in the 1800’s. Britian has just experienced the Railway Mania and America is about to get a taste of it too. You are working for Railway tycoons, businessmen and pioneers to build a great railway network in America, the United Kingdom and Europe. It is your task to transport passengers, mail and goods across countries and continents.
Railway Empire 2 is a top-down simulator and building game made by Gaming Minds Studios & Kalpyso Media from Germany.
Evolving gameplay in a revolutionary setting
Railway Empire 2 is a slight evolution over the first game. It doesn’t change up the formula that much. You are still in control of building a rail network between different cities. With each city having a certain type of industry that needs goods. If a city has a distillery, it will need fruits and sugar to produce anything. You obtain these and other rescources by building stations near farms, pastures, mines, pits and logging camps.
Players who’ve enjoyed the first Railway Empire game might have a different experience than newcomers. As the second iteration has a focus on being accessible for a broader audience, a bit of depth is lost. For example, in the first game railway crossings were set with signals. In Railway Empire 2 you simply tell the game which direction the entire track should go. A more intuitive solution, but also one that makes the game easier to play.
The sound design is immersive and functional. The music is great, but could be a little more diverse. After having played the England campaign for a few hours I felt like flattening a couple brass instruments with a rolling machine. Sorry brass players (I’m one of you, I swear!).
Becoming a railway mogul
There are plenty of ways to play Railway Empire 2. There’s a campaign mode, a scenario mode, a free play mode and a co-op multiplayer mode.
The campaign consists of five chapters. The first chapters puts you in charge of the Boston & Albany Railroad company. One of the goals of the company is to protect Boston as a centre of trade, as it’s losing that position with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. In this first campaign you work for the owner of a hardware company in Albany, Erastus Corning. A gentle boss, proudly celebrating the success of the company with displaying fireworks over Boston every chance he gets.
But progressing through the campaigns means you’ll encounter all kinds of executives and general managers. The campaigns will lead you through the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.
The scenario mode is less relaxing than the campaigns. In the campaign mode, time might be your biggest adversary. In the scenario mode you are competing against other railway networks more directly.
Bugbashing with Sandite
When a train doesn’t do its job properly, Sandite is applied. So.. does Railway Empire 2 need some Sandite?
(Yes, I did look up the meaning of Sandite. If you are interested, check this Wikipedia article.)
During my 20 hour playthrough I’ve encountered various minor bugs. Such as a train station not working properly leading to goods not being delivered, or tracks nog aligning due to an invisible track being in the way. But, overall the game feels very polished. If we forget about a save file corrupting once..
Visually the game looks better than the first game and feels smooth to play, with no unnecessary loadscreens when clicking on a city. Everything that happens in the game, happens in the world you are playing in. No need to enter a hub, a research centre or a home base.
For experienced players Railway Empire 2 might feel like a small evolution of the game. For new players it can be quite overwhelming. The game doesn’t explain everything and part of the game is experiencing a lot of trial and error before getting things right. ”How do I get those goods there!? They are just transporting passengers and mail!” or ”My train network is completely congested! This game is broken!”
Turns out the game isn’t broken. It’s just a matter of getting to grips with the systems in place. And whenever you properly understand the mechanics Railway Empire 2 becomes a very addicting simulator.
Railway Empire 2 is a great game for fans of simulators and builders. It tries to find the middle ground between being accessible and challenging, with the chance of losing the more advanced players in the process. The developers can cherish what they’ve created. But could expand upon the ideas some more for the next iteration. As I’m sure plenty of players would love to go deeper into the world of building a railway empire.
Railway Empire 2
Windows 11 (PC Game Pass)
- Relaxing & immersive
- Mostly bug free
- Interesting campaigns
- Doesn't revolutionize the series