Train Sim World 4


So should you Choo-Choo-Choose to buy TSW4's Deluxe Version?


As Dovetail Games’ (DTG from here on) Train Sim World 4 (TSW4) loads up I was glad to hear some new, more appropriate, intro music, a welcome change after the oddly out of place clap of thunder and pretty, but strangely inappropriate tune that opened TSW3.

As expected TSW4 sports various improvements including tweaks to the UI, which still looks extremely smart while putting a few things right that were wrong, like highlighting selections rather than lowlighting them as TSW3 does. TSW veterans will be pleased to hear that you can transfer progress from either TSW2 or TSW3 on your first login, and I also had the strange, if pleasant, experience of the game awarding me with no less than 20 Achievements when all I'd done was complete one tutorial!

One of TSW4’s new visual effects (that apparently couldn't be added to TSW3) is volumetric fog. This is togglable in gen 9 consoles and PC, but is absent on gen 8 (Xbox One & Playstation 4). Well anyway, it looks really good, sunlight and all light sources scatter through it in a remarkably realistic way. 

Visually TSW4 is, as it should be, the best-looking TSW yet, with the trains starring, most of the static scenery passing muster, and the numerous passengers and road traffic doing their bit to make the game as absorbing as possible. However, a problem that has plagued TSW since its first console release still rears its ugly head: pop at disappointingly close range and LoD texture (Level of Detail) glitches galore, which are most noticeable with distant buildings and hills, trees and even the track, that fills in its final track detail textures far too close to the in front of a moving train.

Something that’s always been missing from TSW is a rumble effect. Driving trains is obviously quite a rattly, rumbly experience so DTG  rightly added a vibration effect. Unfortunately I found several to be so over-the-top that  I turned them off altogether. I only retained the rail joint track rumble and coupling vibration. The vibration while operating the throttle, the brake or any other levers being moved, flicking switches throttle and even hovering over any button all seemed unnecessary and too umm… rumbly, even on the lowest setting.

The TSW4 Deluxe Version comes with 4 routes:

East Coast Mainline: Peterborough to Doncaster is a 80-mile route with the Class 801 LNER "Azuma" built by Hitachi Rail, the RWS Class 66 with intermodal freight, and with the Deluxe Version that we were given to review, the world-famous LNER Class A3 60103 Flying Scotsman does various steam railtours. East Coast Mainline is a fast route and doesn't have much in the way of memorable scenery. As with TSW3 there are British, German and US versions available if you're only interested in driving trains from one country or are train simming on a budget.

Metrolink Antelope Valley Line: Los Angeles–Lancaster is the new 75-mile US route that is served by the EMD F125. This huge locomotive looks and sounds fantastic–from the deep thrum of its drive system, the sound of its pumps, fans and dynamic brakes to its resonant horn, this is a mighty beast, and it's a looker too–from the cab view the shape of the huge windscreen put me in mind of piloting a space shuttle. The route takes in a stretch that runs alongside the famous L.A. River that been used in countless movies, TV series and pop/rock videos. there are also several intermodal freight runs layered in depending on which routes you already own.

S-Bahn Vorarlberg: Lindau - Bludenz is a shorter, 40-mile route that actually crosses the Germany/Austria border between Lindau and Lochau and runs along the shore of the Bodensee (aka Lake Constance) at Bregenz. This beautiful route is served by the sleek-looking ÖBB 4024 S-Bahn Vorarlberg Talent 1 (built by Bombardier), and the Deluxe Version supplies 35 services with the mighty Railpool BR 193 Vectron pulling 6193100-5 aggregate wagons. The BR 185.2 DB and the RABe 523 from Luzern-Sursee also get some services layered in if you own the relevant routes.

Nahverker Dresden - Riesa, a popular German route has also been updated to use all TSW4's bells and whistles (lighting, weather & fog FX), and it's also a lot busier.  We were delighted to see no fewer than 14 locomotive and passenger sets get services either set from stock or layered in to the new Dresden route. You may already have Dresden - Riesa but in my opinion it's worth buying the Deluxe Version for this updated extra alone.

The real Flying Scotsman was built in 1923 at the Doncaster Works. It's been a tumultuous centenary year for the mighty green machine which encouraged Dovetail to recognise the fact by modelling it into TSW4. Dozens of railtours and displays went successfully but it was involved in a minor accident during a shunting manoeuvre on the Strathspey Railway, happily no one was seriously injured and the Scotsman escaped unscathed. Driving steam trains in TSW is as evocative and rewarding as ever, but the Spirit of Steam was released at the end of May 2022, yet somehow Dovetail still haven't managed to get the fireman stoking the boiler when prompted (their solution is to simply remove the task from him/her altogether, so they just sit there like a co-driver!) or to stop the safety valve hissing (although there's a brutal driver/engineer solution to this.)

Various other locomotives and trains will be layered into all the 4 routes depending on the content you own and install. The brute that is the Class 66, the slick Class 323 EMU and the wonderful Stanier 8F steam locomotive are now available to drive at the Training Center whether you owned them previously or not–which is nice, meaning you can get to grips with diesel, electric and steam at the superb training track.

A Metrolink Antelope Valley Line: Los Angeles scenario sees you acting as moving background scenery in a movie!

TSW4 has new "minimal" and "simple" HUD options for those who think the normal one (that has changed little since TSW 2020) is over the top or unnecessary. If you're hardcore or just like SPADding (passing through red lights and failing the scenario or service) then you can even turn it off completely, but you're gonna need to learn each route, or possess psychic powers, or eyes like a hawk and the reactions of an F1 driver.

TSW4 has some new passenger cosmetics and clothing, which adds much-needed variety, but the same identical heights and builds of characters remain, which is understandable but still disappointing. In addition to the realistic usage of umbrellas  by some passengers that arrived with TSW3, a few passengers can now be seen with luggage, which adds to the realism.

Another pleasing new feature is the much-requested Photo Mode for railfanning, trainspotting loco-lovers. Trying to get that perfect shot while on the move was never easy, and now you can pause the game, position the camera, zoom and add various effects too.

TSW4 has a much more detailed scoring system that takes into account; objectives completed, distance driven, safety system use and correct cab setup (optional), speeding, correct wiper usage, stop time & accuracy, coupling, junction changes and even leaving your vehicle unsafely! Sadly it still penalises you disproportionately for being a fractionally above the speed limit and there are still red lights that seem designed to catch you out–placed just a few yards beyond a stopping point.

The ÖBB 4924 S-Bahn Vorarlberg Talent 1 zips alongside the Bodensee (aka Lake Constance) at Bregenz

More grumbles include: We get pantograph sparks but still no wheel sparks? The PIS (passenger information screens) on Vorarlberg stations are inoperative (but as far as I know this might just be mirroring real life). There have been numerous complaints about the Talent 1‘s motor sounds (apparently because of a technical hitch they're recycled from the Talent 2). None of these are going to ruin my day, but we did notice that the door opening sound is minimal; you can hear them opening but there is no warning beep or buzzer.

The full lineup in TSW4's Deluxe Version

You cannot fail to love the “spawn any train, anywhere, at anytime” Free Roam feature, and being able to make a custom path on the fly in the middle of a busy timetable route is amazing. I made a Class 47 “railtour” for BML, and also a few Class 700 and 323 deadhead runs to & from various locations, all of which worked flawlessly in what is probably the busiest route in TSW. But there's a not insignificant problem here, there's a bug which means some engines will not throttle up despite setting up the controls correctly. Another issue is that the "Free Roam" mode isn't actually all that "free", with red lights all over the place and automatic points that cannot be changed. Surely DTG need to give us a proper freedom and make controlled switches changeable by the player before they can truly call this "Free Roam?" Several players have come across an annoying bug in the Creator's Club that tells you that "you don't have the required content" when you do, and the new Livery Designer, while having had a lick of paint and 700 more possible layers added to each creation, has a fair few issues with downloads too– I fully expect DTG to fix these issues, but should they really be there?

And a final moan; the hideous multicoloured immersion-draining "Stop Marker" zone keeps reappearing every time you do any tutorial, no matter how many times you turn it off! Red Dwarf fans will no doubt be reminded of the annoyingly persistent "Talkie Toaster" like I was...

"Would you like a stop marker?"


"Would you like a garish multicoloured stop marker that makes you feel like you're playing a child's game?


"How about a incredibly over-the-top marker that is made of many graduated colours and shows you where your train should stop?"


"How about a pretty rainbow-like stop marker?"

"NO! NO! NooOOO!"

"Well, you're gonna get one!"

The new lighting and volumetric fog in all its glory!

One of my favourite new features is a new track monitor (we're going to call it the "Signalometer™") that shows what's up to 1.25 miles (2Km) ahead in 2D graphic form, positioned discreetly in the top right of the HUD, you'll soon wonder how you ever lived without it! I'd like to know why they didn't take this opportunity to adopt Just Trains vastly superior accelerometer though. Another excellent addition is togglable player assists in the options aimed at new, forgetful, or possibly just plain lazy players that include automatic coupling and automatic manual junction setting, which will surely make getting into the game a lot easier.

Not sure what's going on here, but it's Germany, so anything is possible.

The various TSW communities seem full of whining about this being the 4th instalment instead of it being an update for the year-old TSW3. Well, all I can say is I'm glad my lifelong passion (railways) and my guilty pleasure (TSW) is so well supported. Oh, and to all the moaners out there: Good luck finding another brand new console game that's compatible with DLC from its 2019 version–which is, despite a few flaws, a remarkable and laudable commitment by DTG. As it should be, TSW4 is a bigger, better, more polished game than TSW3, but I'm not sure where this leaves TSW3. Having said that, I seriously hope TSW5 sees the Xbox One and PS4 generation of machines dropped, and we get to see what Unreal Engine 5 can do for our favourite train sim…

Many thanks to Dovetail Games, Focus Entertainment and Lick PR