In case you’re not familiar with it, Railway Empire is a simulation game that allows players to pretend to be railroad tycoons in the 19th century. You build and expand your railroad lines, acquire businesses, and ultimately compete against other businesses to acquire them before they acquire you. The game features many modes of play, including scenarios, free mode, sandbox mode, and a few others. In addition, with DLCs, you can play in multiple countries where resources are tailored for that region – Germany is one of my favorites. It’s a great game overall, and you can spend hours perfecting your railway lines to provide resources to grow your cities and your businesses, but there are a few improvements that I would like to see in Railway Empire 2, which is targeted to come out in Q2 of 2023.
The game’s campaign mode got a bit hard with the original Railway Empire game. As the game’s time period progressed, you had to hit milestones rapidly to avoid losing the campaign, due to not building a city’s population fast enough, or other means of failure. While I appreciate a good challenge, I personally got to a certain stage where I could not build fast enough and ultimately gave up on the challenges and focused on free mode. An option to allow the players to decide if they hit enough milestones to progress forward would be ideal, as I loved the story but could not continue due to losing over and over because of the ramp in difficulty.
In addition, the campaign and the tutorial don’t prepare you for actually making money on the game. I had to watch a few videos on YouTube to get support and to learn how to play the game (thank you, Adekyn). A certain amount of finesse is needed to figure out how many trains to put on a track to meet demand, how many trains the station can support to keep from having their backup, etc. Maybe this knowledge was a part of the campaign that I didn’t get to, but there is a much deeper part to this game that I love so much. It drove me to think, strategize, and figure out the pros and cons of adding a new train, placing a station here or there, etc. An improved tutorial on understanding and playing the whole game would be a major improvement for Railway Empire 2.
Free mode is a blast, and I spent a ton of time playing within different countries or trying various game modes. You choose which entrepreneur you want to be, and they each have different pro and con attributes. You must strategize how to play with the new entrepreneur effectively taking into account those pros and cons. The issue here is that there were a few entrepreneur characters that were so weak that they were completely unplayable. The industrialist, while he can buy factories without an auction, becomes obsolete quickly as his earnings quickly grow far beyond the cost of the factory, even with the competitors bidding the price up. A more balanced character selection, with more interesting varieties of pro and con attributes, would be ideal.
I also find that, after playing for a while, trains become, well, dumb. You have positioned one-way stops, and you have station signaling controlled releasing of trains, yet they somehow run into each other and stop everything from moving. You then have to delete one of your trains and free the city up for a while, but they continue to crash for no apparent reason. Furthermore, even if you build additional tracks allowing trains to bypass certain stops, crosses, etc., the train will sit there as it always travels the shortest routes. Lastly, you will have a warehouse full of goods, and unless you manually select what the train will pick up, the train will select all of one good and starve the city for another. There is no sense of balance; thus, I hope Railway Empire 2 has a better AI system.
Lastly, track construction can be frustrating, especially when you try to cross another track. Sometimes I want a bridge, and other times I want a tunnel. Unfortunately, I will preface this by saying I haven’t quite figured it out, but I have to shake the track around until the AI changes versions between bridges and tunnels. It can be frustrating building tracks as I want a bridge but the AI has chosen a costly tunnel. A simpler way to build tracks in the configuration I want would greatly improve Railway Empire 2.
Overall, the new game, Railway Empire 2, excites me, as I have played the first installment for hours on end, building cities and routing resources across the map to various places of need. With improvements such as allowing challenges to be won by a percentage of goals, a more balanced character selection, and a better AI system, the game would be a ton better and cause me even more procrastination in household chores as I have to continue playing for some odd, addicting reason. Either way, I suspect Railway Empire 2 will improve gameplay, and I look forward to seeing what the developers have done to improve upon an already great game.