Lockdown has been a desperately depressing period for everyone, with many of us barely venturing a few kilometres from our front door for the past 12 months. Being stuck inside for such long stretches of time has proved a strain on our mental health, but it’s also helped us to recognise and appreciate the escapism enabled by video games all the more.
We’ve always been advocates of virtual tourism, and whether it’s the post-post-apocalyptic plains of Horizon Zero Dawn or the seedy industrial nightclub in Hitman 3, we believe that a large part of PlayStation’s appeal is the places that it takes you while you play. Personally, this author has always quietly enjoyed travelling by train, which has made Train Sim World 2 a not-so-secret obsession.
We already wrote about the Isle of Wight expansion, which allowed us to explore the coastal scenery of the British island. But developer Dovetail has been busy expanding on the release’s roster of routes, and we’ve been lapping up the scenery from our sofa. You can’t beat the real thing, of course – like the time we travelled overnight by rail from Budapest to Prague – but this is still excellent escapism.
Of the many new locations and locomotives that have been added since launch last year, we’ve been losing a lot of time to three in particular: Southeastern Highspeed, LGV Méditerranée, and the newly added Arosalinie, which is a route set among the Alps in Switzerland – but we’ll talk much more about that later.
Southeastern Highspeed is not particularly unique as there are already several rails from the UK included in the game, however the journey from St Pancras International to Faversham is particularly entertaining – especially because it features a section of high-speed track between London and Ebbsfleet.
This particular stint predominantly runs through a tunnel, and it requires you to change the BR Class 395 Javelin’s power supply at the aforementioned Ebbsfleet International, adding a wrinkle to the gameplay. You’ll also reach speeds of up to 225km/h, making for some seriously intense moments. Hurtling out of the aforementioned tunnels into the surrounding areas of London is a lot of fun.
There’s also a commuter line as part of this expansion, where you’ll be operating the BR Class 375 along the Chatham Main Line. While we personally prefer the high-speed trains to the slower commuters, there are some really fun tasks on this route’s timetable – including a set of services inspired by London’s Pride festival, which come complete with unique liveries.
LGV Méditerranée, meanwhile, is idyllic escapism. The rail runs 93-kilometres through the sun-soaked South of France, from Marseille to Avignon. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that Train Sim World 2 has included a route in France – many of the locations are inspired by the UK or Germany – and it makes for a welcome breath of fresh air.
Much like the BR Class 395 Javelin, you’ll need to change the TGV Duplex’s power supply at various points along the route, although you’ll be operating at speeds of up to 320km/h – it’s a ton of fun. There aren’t actually a lot of stops on this journey, so you can kick back and drink in the scenery – although the iconic Marseille-Saint-Charles station makes for a beautiful destination.
And finally there’s the Arosalinie, which as previously mentioned runs from historic town Chur to the ski resort of Arosa, crossing viaducts along the way. For our money, this is the most unique (and difficult) rail in Train Sim World 2 to date: you’ll be dealing with some wild inclines, meaning that sticking to the modest speed limits can be a real challenge.
At just 26 kilometres, the route packs a lot of variety into its relatively short length. Once you reach Chur, you’ll be travelling alongside traffic, as the rail operates a kind of tram-like service next to a canal within the town itself. Then it’s out into the mountainous surroundings, where you’ll pass through dozens of tunnels and wind around the wilderness.
In terms of pure breath-taking escapism, this Swiss route is unlike anything we’ve experienced in the game so far. The train, with its multiple braking systems, is a beast to master – but between freight and commuter tasks there’s a lot to do. You can also just ride as a passenger – as you can with all of the release’s routes – and we’ve enjoyed using the game as a makeshift screensaver.
There’s more coming to Train Sim World 2 over the coming months, and we’re eager to see how Dovetail expands upon the variety already included in the game. This is more than just a rail simulator for us – although it’s excellent at that – because it allows us to explore and tour different locations at a time when lockdown has trapped us inside. It’s well worth playing if you’re feeling claustrophobic.
What have you been playing to help you deal with lockdown, and are you interested in titles like Train Sim World 2 which allow you to explore real-world locations around the globe? Insert your Master Key into the comments section below.