Railway Empire 2 rolls steam engines across two continents

This upcoming sequel from Kalypso Media and Gaming Minds ventures into the U.S. and Europe in search of the world's greatest railway tycoon.

Kalypso Media

Connecting civilizations can be a daunting challenge in itself, but there was a certain charm in tackling this task with Railway Empire. The original train simulator from Kalypso Media and Gaming Minds Studios tasked players with creating a full network of steam-powered locomotives. For the sequel, Gaming Minds is thinking bigger by expanding into a full-blown city builder. To get an idea of what's coming, Shacknews recently went hands-on with the upcoming Railway Empire 2.

The European map in Railway Empire 2

Source: Kalypso Media

Railway Empire 2 takes players to 1830, the dawn of the steam engine and the locomotive. While the goal is to become the top railway tycoon, there's going to be more to that than just building train stations. That's evident just by the game's massive scope. The game's tutorial begins by tasking players to connect train stations between San Francisco and Sacramento. That's only the beginning, because the eventual goal is for players to connect an entire railway network across both the continental United States and Europe. It's as ambitious as it is intimidating, something aimed squarely at those looking to truly test their building and resource management skills.

Players will have a lot of open land on which to build their empire. Sessions can start over a 100-year period, potentially starting users in the early 20th century wiht more advanced technology. It's possible to utilize the zoomed-out bird's eye view to get a better look at the undeveloped United States (and later Europe) and also zoom in to get a better look at each individual town. Every town has its own buildings, citizens, and economic situation. Trains run on time and when they arrive, workers will load and unload each load of cargo. Players must manage the various needs of every city by making sure each train carries the right cargo. Efficiently running this train network will ensure that each town grows and flourishes in its own way. If done right, players will notice the fruits of their labor pay off through population and economic growth.

A 19th century town in Railway Empire 2

Source: Kalypso Media

Part of running a successful network involves running effective train lines. It's possible to connect train stations to each other through an automatic process. Simply click the ends of each train station in two towns and the game will lay out a suggested route. Of course, the suggested route is not always the most optimal. Sometimes, the suggested route will require bridges, tunnels, or other landscape adjustments, which can become costly. Keeping in mind the ongoing costs for upkeep and maintenance, it's not in the user's best interest to spend too much money laying down routes, which means they'll have to use their best judgement to adjust any track layouts accordingly. Later in the game, players can lay down train stations outside of towns, which can offer both a spot to connect multiple train routes, but also allow players to build some other buildings in the surrounding area for additional revenue streams.

Railway Empire 2 will likewise open up in terms of new train types and technology. As noted earlier, as the game moves into the 20th century, players can pick up new forms of tech through the Research and Development menu. While this includes different locomotive types, it also includes a lot of other train-related advancements, like the train whistle, manufacturing plants, employee training programs, and more.

Would-be tycoons are welcome to approach Railway Empire 2 in their own way. The main campaign includes six characters, each with their own advantages and drawbacks. They can also take on custom games with their own rules in place, allowing users to adjust their initial funds, the number of AI competitors in place, various construction costs, and more. It's also possible to engage in multiplayer and do some co-op building. Full cross-platform play is available so that friends on PC and different consoles can join up at any time.

There is so much that's packed into Railway Empire 2 that it could lead to information overload for casual players. However, hardcore tycoons who are all about building big business empires should find a lot to enjoy in this sequel from Kalypso and Gaming Minds. Players won't have to wait much longer before this train leaves the station. Railway Empire 2 is set to release on Thursday, May 25 on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. It will also be available through Xbox Game Pass on release day.

The following preview is based on a Steam code provided by the publisher.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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