Train Sim World pulls choo ’em up into Unreal Engine

The makers of Train Simulator are riding the rails in Unreal Engine 4 for the first time, having finally made the long-promised switch from their own janky engine with the release of Train Sim World: CSX Heavy Haul [official site] last week. It certainly looks prettier than old Train Sim, at least. While Train Sim’s many DLC add-ons cover thousands of miles and scenarios by now (even helping Halloween monsters in a spin-off), Train Sim World is starting with hauling cargo on the USA’s 100 mile-ish Sand Patch Grade. It seems to suffer from technical leaves on the line, mind.

First, look at this pretty train line:

Then, go read some of the player reviews griping about terrible performance even with monster PCs. Some seem dissatisfied with its train physics too. Given that the two things to do are look around and drive trains, those are big problems.

Perhaps this can be fixed. This is the first Unreal Engine 4 journey, and if Train Simulator is any indicator Dovetail may be working on this for years to come. They say they’re collecting data on performance problems and, while they don’t have a timeline for fixes, they are “are absolutely looking to make updates”. A test build is already out with fixes for VR mode and non-QWERTY keyboards.

Anyway. If you want to chance it, here’s what Dovetail say you’ll get:

“You’ve been invited to work for CSX Transportation as a railroad engineer delivering important cargo on tight schedules. With six challenging scenarios and many places to explore including Rockwood Mine, Sand Patch Summit and Cumberland Yard, your skill, focus and endurance will be tested to the limit.

“Experience a full ‘day-in-the-life’, with the brand new Service Mode, which features the recreation of a 24-hour timetable based on real-world operations. No two days are the same. Hop on and off a range of services as they carry out their duties. Take control or ride along, the choice is yours.”

Train Sim World: CSX Heavy Haul is £24.99/29,99€/$39.99 on Steam.


  1. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    From those player reviews:

    Whatever CPU/GPU combination you may have, the frame rate remain approximately the same across all setups (approximately 20-25fps on Ultra settings). This could be explained simply by the fact that all Dovetail Train Simulator games only trigger the main core and not the full 2/4 CPU cores your computer perfrom on. This and the previous games are all almost solely CPU based and does not seem to take advantage of the GPU at all.

    Oh, man. If that’s true the performance problems aren’t something they’ll be able to fix with some simple patches, they’re rooted in fundamental architectural decisions that would only have made sense if PC hardware evolution had completely stopped fifteen years ago. Which, of course, it did not.

    • Optimaximal says:

      I don’t believe that analysis, because the sim is running on UE4 (you know, as released ~3 years ago) – surely that means by default it’s fully multi-core aware?

      • Cinek says:

        If they have a very heavy game logic and it’s running only on a single core then it doesn’t really matter which engine they use.

  2. KDR_11k says:

    Is Ultra the recommended current day setting? I’m not a fan of judging a game’s performance by its max settings since that discourages including options that only future hardware could handle.

  3. rochrist says:

    I get 30FPS at the rock bottom, averaging closer to 40 sometimes flirting with 50. i5-4670 and a GTX1060OC.

  4. JaminBob says:

    The load and times on the previous version were intolerable.

    I dunno 1:1 simulation just gets dull anyway. Need a Euro Truck 2 for trains with the boring bits taken out.

    Reminds me of flight sims in the 90s, the hardcore clamoured for more and more realism and as the manuals got thicker the audience got thinner.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      A well crafted scenario can be very engaging in Train Sim. Some locos also require some extra management. Steam powered trains are an obvious example as they require you to think ahead. Overhead electric driven ones require you to look out for neutral sections, which require the driver to bring the power back before entering.

      My favourite type of scenario is a freight run with lots of traffic about. The ‘Riviera Line in the Fifties: Exeter – Kingswear’ route add-on has a wonderful freight run through great scenery, with a timetable of traffic that means you don’t have to rush between the scenario’s objectives.

    • Pulstar says:

      Densha de Go was fun.

    • rochrist says:

      This is much different than Train Simulator. Here you represent one railway worker, and your free to take on many different jobs, or just hang out and hop rides on the trains or take pictures. Getting out of your train and walking around the yard, actually manually uncouple cars, throwing switches, setting brakes is a major improvement.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Maltose says:

    CSX literally just laid off 1000 people last month. I guess now we have the opportunity to pay to pretend to work for them :/

    • manny says:

      Maintaining own engine would have been a huge burden, so huge amount of money saved already.
      UE4 was not designed for sims at all, just large arenas where people duke it out online. Fiddling with someone elses sourcecode is tricky.
      Apart from train sim fans willing to pay for DLCs, the large staff that was needed with the old engine, would have necessitated charging alot for DLC and constantly releasing them. This should ease that burden, allowing it to go more mainstream.

  6. cpy says:

    10000$ worth of DLCs? No thanks this game is just plain stupid in those terms.

    • Cinek says:

      They have a different approach to DLCs than most of the games do. Usually people want to have all, or at least most of the DLCs. Here it’s very different – you’re supposed to buy only these few that interest you, while they keep on expanding the game into different topics (locations, trains, etc.) that are interesting for different people.

    • rochrist says:

      How many ways does this have to be answered. You aren’t MEANT to buy all the DLC. You’re meant to buy the DLC that represents regions and railroads you like. Railfans are very into that sort of thing.
      Frankly, I doubt most people have remotely enough storage space for all the DLC even if they wanted it. But they don’t. Cause they’re NOT SUPPOSED TO!

  7. Greg says:

    I bought their TS series on Steam. That was the first and the last dollar they’ll ever get from me. Their games are complete money sinks. What they charge for DLC is offensive. Right now if I added all the DLC for that game is would cost me…. $6,742.64 CDN. That’s right, $7000 just for DLC. Avoid this game and company like the plague.

    • Canadave says:

      This is like walking into a hobby store and complaining that if you bought every single model train, it would cost you thousands of dollars. You aren’t supposed to buy every single one, it just doesn’t make sense.

      And while I think Dovetail could stand to have more quality control on the DLC that’s released, the prices seem fair to me, given the amount of work that goes into what is ultimately a niche product.

  8. causticnl says:

    for those people comparing this to model train hobby, sorry it just doesnt add up. you have a $30 game, with just 4 tracks, and thats it, the rest you have to buy through DLC’s.

    I think it would work if they gave away the basegame for free, but now you have to pay an almost nonworking base game to buy the dlc’s.

    Im waiting on a Euro Truck Simulator approach to trains, give a working sim for an condensed yet detailed area, and sell dlc’s for more detail in certain zones, but with complete availibility to all trucks and tracks.

    It will prolly sell much more then TS.

    • Canadave says:

      I got quite a bit of mileage out of the base game before I started buying DLCs. They usually include a solid variety of maps with the base game, so you can figure out what you like to drive.

  9. mariandavid says:

    Its strange the critique of a game because it has lots and lots of DLC. Its not as if anyone with any sense expects you to buy them – its just that there are a lot there because the game covers different nations, continents, periods and technology to feed players with very different tastes.

    As for the original game – it has been steadily tweaked with every yearly ‘edition’ and right now is far more than tolerable with effective management of close and medium scenery and most weather effects. And all while allowing players with less than optimal rigs to play.

    Only advice – buy the DLC’s on sale and never any time else.

    As for me will wait till much patching takes place before getting the new version.

  10. poliovaccine says:

    *Choo* em up, though…!