Trains, planes, and tycooning in Transport Fever

Transport Fever is not what one catches from the London Underground handrail; that’s the Hammersmith Honks. Nor is it what you get from seat-back screens on planes; that’s Sandler Syphilis. Don’t mistake it for Truckstop Fever, an infection from a species of bum lice found only along Route 101. And the medical consequences of riding a bicycle are, we all know, becoming a bicycle yourself. No, Transport Fever [official site] is a Transport Tycoon-sorta-ish sim about building and managing transport networks. It’s the sequel to 2014’s Train Fever, which Tim Stone quite liked, and out now.

It has the usual Tycooning goal of building and running a profitable transport network, shuttling cargo, people, and all that. It’s focused on trains but has aircraft, ships, buses, trams, and trucks too. Honk honk! It starts in 1850 then progresses through the ages, new technologies rolling out along the way.

Transport Fever launched a week ago, which is long enough ago for developers Urban Games to have reflected on the launch. They’re happy with how it’s sold — it broke the week’s Steam top ten — but have picked out a few problems with how it’s been received by players. They say, “From our analysis we have identified three key challenges: technical issues on launch day, misunderstandings (or lack of explanation) concerning game-play mechanics and performance problems.”

So! Another patch is coming to fix crashes, and it will also clarify game systems by cleaning up inconsistencies and confusions. After that, they’ll focus on improving performance. Then, “for sure we will continue improving Transport Fever”, one way or another. They’re also planning to release documentation to support modding.

Transport Fever is £26.99/31,99€/$34.99 on Steam and GOG. Until December 8th, folks who own Train Fever on Steam will get a 15% discount.


  1. Leafcutter says:

    One of those games for head scratching and beard stroking, but bar a few performance issues a very robust game.

    New assets, maps and mechanics already being added by the community.

    And of course, very pretty to look at for the child in you.

    Choo! Choo!

  2. inspiredhandle says:

    I read the thing about turning into a bicycle. Utterly mental.

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      What is that magazine?

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        phuzz says:

        It’s an extract from a surreal book called The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien.
        All of O’Brien’s stuff is bonkers.

        • theapeofnaples says:

          One of the Greatest and Funniest Novels

        • Massenstein says:

          I remember reading that when I was a kid – when I had endless patience and always, always finished a book I started – and my young mind was very confused the whole time.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      It made me think about something I read on the internet: “if you clean a vacuum cleaner, you become a vacuum cleaner”.

  3. Telkir says:

    Aside from the obviously prettier graphics, how does this compare gameplay-wise to Transport Tycoon / OpenTTD? On the surface it looks very similar but appearances can often be deceptive… :)

    • spec10 says:

      Reviews and Marketing Videos keep showing zoomed in views that look quite nice. But you spend most of your time zoomed out and frankly… zoomed out the Transport Fever world looks quite ugly to me. Transport Tycoon looks and feels way better. The UI feels kind of clunky too. I don’t know, for me it just doesn’t click.

    • Leafcutter says:

      I watched some ‘lets plays’ on YouTube before I decided to get it.

    • LimEJET says:

      The simulation is more… “Individual”, I guess you can say. All citizens who travel want to go somewhere (which is not the case in OpenTTD, where they just want to go as far as possible), and different parts of cities require different things so you need to factor coverage into your routes. The upgrade/downgrade system was carried over from Train Fever (more demand->more production->facility expands), with the caveat that goods no longer move on their own when there is no transport and a target is within range (in fact, industries don’t have a “range”), so rather than just reverting to their base states, industries without connections eventually close completely.

      The menu system is less confusing than OpenTTD (in my opinion) but requires more clicking to get things done.

      The rolling/floating/flying stock are all real vehicles, so if you like a bit of trainspotting or such that’s a nice bonus.

      The production chains are about two or three steps long excluding the destination, and demand seems to fluctuate in a way that forces you to think about balancing supply.

      Signalling is a lot simpler than OpenTTD, offering just a path signal and a waypoint. You still have basically all the capabilities of the OpenTTD system, but you’ll have to place stuff a bit differently. For me, I always found single-track routes with occasional “meeting spots” very hard to do in OpenTTD, but it’s a breeze in the Fever games.

      Not being grid-based helps the track-laying a lot. It can still be a bit wonky in places, but in general, just clicking and dragging lets you make all sorts of interesting crossings, bridges, and switches with basically no hassle.

    • Aninhumer says:

      One big difference for me is that Train/Transport Fever have much better passenger simulation than OpenTTD. Individual passengers are simulated and walk/drive around realistically. (Whereas OpenTTD just treats them like a resource by default, and even if you enable destination simulation it just generates passengers to fill your services rather than having any kind realistic traffic patterns.)

      However, honestly if you want a realistic transport sim and don’t care too much about graphics, I highly highly recommend Simutrans: link to
      It has a very fiddly interface, occasional bad translation, and the graphics range from okay to dire (depending on your pakset, I recommend 192comic, but be aware that they also affect gameplay) but it has loads of transport options, a decent sense of scale, and a fairly realistic passenger model. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in it.

      • Sic says:

        I tried Simutrans, and I bounced right off it.

        It’s like a nightmarish Transport Tycoon. The music was absolutely dreadful, and everything looks like TT, only extremely ugly (I tried the 192comic pak).

        If all I get is slightly more realistic transport simulation, I’d rather stick to TT.

        • Aninhumer says:

          Yeah, the music is dreadful, I just turned it off. I think the 192comic graphics are only slightly worse than TTD, but maybe I’m just used to them. It doesn’t help that the community is smaller to start with, and more fractured I think due to the paksets almost being different games.

          Personally I think the simulation is worth it, because OpenTTD is fairly weak for passenger networks, but the only other major advantages I can think of are the building options like non-straight tunnels, elevated rails and stations on them so you can actually build city metros, like this: link to

    • Aetylus says:

      I’d say it is a bit more “hardcore”. More beard-rubbing involved, as another commentor pointed out.

      On the plus side (if you like that sort of thing), track laying feels like an engineering feat (or at least like a really awesome model railway feat). You’re really forced to follow the contours of hills if you want you tracks to work out.

      On the down side, it means its less intuitive. You can see engine power and traction and car weights and are then expected to guess how many cars are optimal. (Or at least find a google sheet posted by a train boffin that will do it for you).

      But, if you’ve got a little grognard in you, well recommended.

  4. HexagonalBolts says:

    Signals: I really don’t understand how they work in this game. Is there a clear guide on how to do them?

    Is it impossible to make the same sorts of complicated stations and line balancing that were possible in advanced games of openTTD?

    Unless I have misunderstood how signals work, I really really hope that mods add presignals because it allows for networks that are so much more complex and interesting to manage. At the moment it seems to be impossible to get a train to chose a free platform at a station.

    • LewdPenguin says:

      From what I’ve seen of it things appear to work the same as in Train Fever, you get a signal and you can chose whether it’s uni or bi-directional, and that’s it. If you can’t get trains to use empty platforms that sounds like they’ve stuck with the same system as before where routes always use the same platform, determined when you make the route, with NO dynamic routing into empty platforms.

      If so that’s pretty disappointing and will require either sucking up ugly queues at times as everything waits to get in, spamming stations to ensure every route/direction has a dedicated platform to itself, and/or designing your whole network to avoid having notable hubs served by too many different lines.

  5. charlesg says:

    Previous iteration Train Fever was rather confusing, it really could’ve used a tutorial or something. The user interface got in the way too much; I found laying tracks was a pretty unpleasant exercise.

    I’m hoping this game will be good, as it seems they’re trying to address precisely these issues.

    I got a bit worried how the promotional screenshots seemed to go out of their way to hide the user interface. They mostly show close-ups which don’t reflect what the actual gameplay is like. Then again, most games do this.

    I’d love to see a game that’s has Transport Tycoon’s complex railway networks but is a bit more up to date when it comes to graphics.

  6. swaan says:

    While I love OpenTTD and Simutrans – I like this game the best because the world changes more and your uber-funky-shiny steam rollers are obsolete because people have cars and your buses are now stuck in traffic too. If your services don’t make sense to the demanding customers – you’ll go bankrupt really fast. Harder to master and thats what I really seem to be enjoying.

  7. pguyton says:

    Project Automata seems really cool, it’s on steam in the greenlight program – they even have a free working alpha out