Evolution in the gaming industry is inevitable and crucial for growth and sustainability. Sequels offer an excellent platform for such evolution, even though they occasionally steer away from the elements that made their predecessor a hit. Developed by Gaming Minds Studio and published by Kalypso Media, Railway Empire 2 is an exemplary sequel that falls into this category.
This railroad construction and management simulation game brings changes that have stirred up conversations among fans and critics. The question is, do these changes improve the game or merely reinvent the wheel?
Change of Scenery
Most players agree that Railway Empire 2 is no mere copy of its predecessor. Although it shares similarities in city growth mechanics, station and track building, and route creation, the sequel offers significant changes that make it a distinct game.
The transformation is not simply cosmetic, though the improved graphics are indeed a welcome addition.
The Evolution of Game Mechanics
Railway Empire 2's core mechanics have been reimagined. Goods are now shipped "on demand," removing the stockpiling resources mechanic of the first game.
This shift presents a more realistic system and a fresh set of challenges for players, where traffic jams and poor route management can hinder city development.
The station extensions feature has also been revamped. In the early stages, players will likely have both a maintenance shop and warehouse add-on, taking up both extension spots.
As the game progresses, players will have the option to replace these with more profitable alternatives, adding another layer of strategy to gameplay.
Locomotive maintenance is now a mandatory feature, replacing the previous system where players could simply replace their trains every three months.
This change encourages players to optimize their railway networks and prioritize maintaining their trains to keep their operations smooth.
The Route System: A Mixed Bag
The new route system in Railway Empire 2 presents both opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, it simplifies track laying and gives trains the flexibility to pick any empty track when arriving at a station equipped with gridirons.
On the other hand, automatic signal placement may occasionally miss important junctions. While most players have adapted to this new feature, a portion of the fan base has expressed a desire for manual signal placement to return, highlighting room for improvement in future updates.
Quality of Life Improvements
Quality of Life improvements in Railway Empire 2 are particularly noteworthy. The employee management system is much more simplified than in the original game, removing a significant source of stress for players. The introduction of color customization for locomotives also adds a touch of personalization to the game.
Moreover, route management has been improved to allow the handling of identical trains in a single route. This feature makes adjustments to cargo assignments, the route, mail and dining cars far easier to execute.
What Railway Empire 2 does notably well is providing an expansive game world. The base game includes the USA, British Isles, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. To put this into perspective, in the original Railway Empire, all of these were separate DLCs, amounting to a cost higher than the asking price for the sequel.
In fact, Railway Empire 2 comes packed with 5 campaign chapters and 14 scenario missions, which certainly adds up to a significant amount of content.
The Price of Progress
Without a doubt, one significant hurdle is the game's price point. As a big game, Railway Empire 2 comes with a heftier price tag than some players might expect or appreciate.
Moreover, extra content like the three separate PDF guides, developed by an external company, feels steeply-priced.
Despite these being optional and the game having a sufficient in-game manual, the additional cost might leave some players feeling like they're just there to fill the publisher's wallets.
In conclusion, Railway Empire 2 is a testament to the game industry's evolution. The game has stirred controversy due to the changes it introduces. However, these changes have also added a fresh layer of complexity and strategy to the game, proving that it's not merely a polished version of its predecessor but a standalone game with its unique challenges and enjoyment.
- New game mechanics present fresh challenges
- Improved graphics
- Quality of Life improvements
- Expanded maps provide more room for infrastructure
- Automatic signal placement could use refinement
- Adjusting track direction can despawn active trains
- Gridiron system can be improved
- Extra costs
The final verdict is that Railway Empire 2 might not be everyone's cup of tea, especially for those who prefer the mechanics of the original game. However, for players who embrace change and enjoy the thrill of tackling new challenges, Railway Empire 2 is certainly worth a shot.