Chugging Along Towards Constantinople in New Railway Empire 2 DLC

Railway Empire 2: Journey
to the East DLC
Reviewed On
Steam (PC)
Available For

Train simulations are incredibly popular these days, whether you are building railroads, managing how the rail networks operate or even driving the locomotives through cities and vast stretches of countryside. There is even a growing set of easy-to-play railroad type games like Station to Station or Railbound that take the essence of train titles and opens them up to a more casual audience. It seems like gamers really want to ride the rails, which is great because trains are pretty cool.

Some of the most complex and impressive new railroad and train games are the simulations that combine an economic engine, physics and real-time events into a title where players are tasked with building out and maintaining every aspect of a railroad empire. And of those, Railway Empire 2, which GiN reviewed last year, is among the best of the best. And although we reviewed it on the Steam platform, it’s available for just about every gaming console these days too, including the Nintendo Switch, which does not get a lot of realistic simulations of this quality.

And now Railway Empire 2 has expanded with its Journey to the East DLC, which adds a huge new map to the game, a fully-voiced campaign scenario, several new locomotives to play with, about 50 new cities and towns to connect via your emerging rail network and new crops and products to haul around – or to feed into your own supply chain for all those supplemental factories and stores you can place along the tracks.

And although the name of the DLC probably conjures up images of China or Japan, the East in this case refers to the land to the East of Western Europe as you are charged with connecting cities like Vienna to Budapest and Constantinople. Your route will take you past the expansive Balkans countries as well as through (or more likely around) the unforgiving Carpathian Mountains, so be ready for a pretty strong challenge with this new map and sandbox scenario.

Like the core game, the Journey to the East DLC is set in the 1800s when railroad technology was experiencing its biggest boom, and the title’s extensive tech tree reflects that with many inventions and improvements building upon one another. And because the new scenario begins in 1881 and goes till 1890, much of the early technologies will already be unlocked for you when you start. There are a few new technologies too, such as luxury wagons for transporting first class passengers in a style they are accustomed to and willing to pay for with much higher fares being perfectly acceptable to that crowd. Your new business partner describes his vision for your fancy trains as luxury hotels on wheels, and he is not far off, although you can also build real hotels and other businesses along the way.

And speaking of those side businesses, the new DLC adds in several new crops and other products that can be transported into cities for use in buildings that can process and sell them, all of which you can also obtain as part of your rail empire. The new products and crops include golden honey, Mediterranean olives and fine carpets.

New locomotives also help to make the Journey to the East DLC a must-have for those who enjoyed the core game. I was really thrilled with the Bavarian S 3/6 and the CFR 142 Carpathian Pride. Many of the new engines are slick and streamlined (and very fast when traveling on moderately graded tracks) which makes them perfect for the new luxury line that you are building into the East. As before, you can paint your engines in any color scheme you want and add your company name and logo to really personalize the experience. For example, there is now an amazing looking GiN line of virtual trains operating between Budapest and Constantinople sporting stunning green and gold colors.

Rounding out the new package, which is only $10 on Steam, are brand new music tracks that set the mood for the scenario. Altogether, there are 10 new tracks alongside 19 jingles which you can listen to as you travel and explore the new lands.

As for the scenario itself, I found it to be pretty challenging, although it’s also packed with potential rewards. You get a good amount of starting capital to work with, and if you choose an entrepreneur character to play with a discount on building tracks, bridge or tunnel construction, then you will find things a bit easier. Also, there are generous signing bonuses for connecting certain cities and even product producers. For example, there was a golden honey producer (one of the new resources) at a compound just outside of the starting city that was offering me $450,000 as a connection bonus, and my starting city had demand for that resource too. So, that not only paid for the costs of the track and station, but actually made me money when I ran a spur line out to it over relatively flat ground. I assigned a relatively cheap freight engine to the line and the honey started flowing. I could then also use that resource to make even more money in buildings that I invested in within the city, so it quickly became a bit of a mini monopoly to help further fund my drive East.

In Journey to the East, the terrain and especially the mountains are probably going to be the biggest challenge. Skirting around the mountains is a good option, but even then, you need to be careful about the steepness of the grade so that your engines can maintain the kind of speed that luxury travelers demand. And during the scenario you are also on a timer, which amps up the difficulty a bit too. I was not a huge fan of the timer, but I could always play in the sandbox mode if I wanted a more relaxing experience with the new map. Also, there are a few new technology and business options that were not available in the core version, like hiring saboteurs to wreck the tracks and trains of competitors.

There is a lot of new content available in the Journey to the East DLC for Railway Empire 2, which is a surprisingly good deal for a $10 package. You also get the advantage of quite a few patches and quality of life improvements that have been made since Railway Empire 2 first released, like automatic placement of signal switches and a much easier way to build out parallel tracks. So, if you enjoyed the core game or just like railroad simulations in general, Railway Empire 2 combined with the Journey to the East DLC provides a complete package which will keep amateur and armchair railroad tycoons entertained for many hours.

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