Railway Empire came out on current consoles back in January this year. Since then we have had numerous patches and improvements but very little in terms of new content. However, Developer Gaming Mind Studios has not only released a roadmap of what to expect in the near future, but they have also released their first DLC pack – Mexico! Kalypso was kind enough to provide me with a copy of the DLC to take a look at, so I’ve been playing it on and off the last few weeks as I re-learnt the gameplay mechanics and got back into the swing of things. I guess the question is, is it worth the £6.99 / €7.99 / $ 7.99 price tag?
First things first, I’m not going to talk through all of the mechanics in this review, only what’s changed since the initial release and what the new DLC brings to the game. If you want to read up on the base game first, click here to read my original review back in January: Railway Empire (PS4) Review
Railway Empire: Mexico grants us access to a new scenario within the amazing resource and railway management game which is aptly based within Mexico this time around. The map can be played within it’s set scenario or within free play and sandbox modes and I personally found it to be one of the more challenging maps I’ve played as it presumes you know what you’re doing as it tones down a lot of the hand holding. That’s not to say it doesn’t have the rather obstructive pop-up help bubbles like you got in the original game, because you do, but overall it feels like the game just lets you get on with things – even if you’re making a mess of it!
Your goal within the scenario is to try and boost Mexico’s economy by building a thriving infrastructure as you export goods to the USA all whilst competing with the CPU for dominance over ownership of each of the resources and towns. You will experience a lot of the same gameplay and mechanics which you saw and used within the base game, with the main difference being the various new cities and a few new resources to play with. However, any new content is great for a game like this as it keeps things fresh and interesting whilst not messing with the formula too much that it ruins the experience you’re having.
Everyone Loves a Freebie!
Before I go into the content we get with this new DLC pack, I thought I would talk about what’s happened previously since the game was released, then the DLC and then the future roadmap (so kind of a Past, Present, Future moment). I’m going to ignore bug fixes or issues which have been resolved as there have been a lot of improvements since release in response to the active community and the observant developers who have been taking note of everyone’s concerns. Instead, I’ll just look at new features and content.
• We have received a new ‘Random’ map which can be used within Free Mode and the Sandbox Mode. This basically allows you to select various criteria you would like for the map, such as how long the era runs for, the number of cities, amount of water, climate and mountains, and how many businesses there are. The game will then automatically generate a random map for you to play on. You can also enter a seed or choose ‘random’ in regards to the physical construction of the map – this is great if you find one you like as you can adjust settings and return to the same map in the future.
• In Free Mode, you can opt to perform either easier or harder tasks when given the choice. Also, the tasks now take into consideration how many towns are avaliable on the map – so you won’t get any impossible or hard to complete ones given to you.
• The developers added a new map simply entitled ‘America’. This is only for Free Mode and Sandbox Mode and is basically the whole of America (which was previously in segments) but available as one massive map to play on. You can build from coast to coast in your journey to be the greatest.
• There was a new Scenario added called “Gone with the headwind” where Rhett Butler had fallen for the beautiful railroad tycoon, Scarlett O’Hara.
• A new era was added for 1830-1930 – again, this was previously only available in smaller chunks but now you can play out a full 100 years of pure train luvin! Within this mode, you have all the various locomotives avaliable to you as you work through the ages, and the science tree has been rebalanced for a fair game.
• You can force the AI to use the complex track system – where all tracks must have doubled up lines in order to pass each other safely. This also results in the AI correctly using signals and crossings as well.
• We now have the ability to build X-Crossings.
As you can see, the developers have been monitoring us and adjusting things to make the game more accessible and fun to play. Not to mention we have had things like new bridges, refunds upon destruction, new management lists, detailed train lists and more. However, other than the new scenario and the adjustments to allow you to play for longer and on the whole of the USA map, there was little in terms of actual content added – which I was fine with – well, that was until…
I was a bit wary as I installed this DLC as I’d seen the feature list and I didn’t think there would be much in it if I’m being brutally honest. However, I’ve had so much fun playing through it and it gave me a chance to get back into the game as well as experiencing a new mode which is only avaliable with this pack. First things first, the scenario, Viva Mexico! – which is set between 1873 and 1893 – is pretty tricky. My first attempt I lost as I was busy trying to collect cows for the slaughterhouse, didn’t keep track of the date, forgot about my current task of getting 55k people in Mexico, and thus eventually lost and had to start over. My second attempt was similar, only this time I was aware of the time I had, yet nobody wanted to live in Mexico and I lost.
Finally, I decided to read the help bubbles – as I had been cancelling them as I don’t need any help! Although it appeared I did as I was forgetting to do a few key processes. This time around I got much further until I eventually lost due to not transporting enough coffee as I hadn’t set up the signals correctly. It’s all a learning curve and I did progressively get better each time – I had just forgotten a few of the core mechanics due to playing about 10 strategy games since the last time I played Railway Empire.
The appeal with the Mexico map is its diversity. Sure, we now have the massive USA map which is a lot bigger and more occupied, but Mexico will see you set up stations from the arid northern regions to the dense jungles in the south of the country – and everything in-between. Also, due to the different climates and soil within Mexico over the USA, we now have Coffee and Sugar avaliable at rural locations which we can exploit and take ownership of as we provide locomotive transport to all the nearby towns. Speaking of towns, there are over 24 new cities included within the map as well. Sure, most of them visually look the same, albeit with a new name, but still – its new locations to command and fight the CPU over in order to take for yourself!
What would a DLC pack for ‘Railway Empire’ be without any locomotives? Railway Empire: Mexico gives us two new engines, the Fairlie (0-6-6-0) and Stirling (4-2-2). Both of which look highly realistic and just like their IRL counterparts. The developers have done a great job of recreating all the various locomotives in the game with an amazing amount of detail. The only issue I have is that they haven’t licenced and implemented the Hogwarts Express, Thomas the Tank Engine or the train from Back to the Future III yet! I do keep pestering them on social media about it though, so maybe one day?!?!
Turn off the lights!
Railway Empire: Mexico comes with an option which, for me, dramatically changed the game and instantly increased the replayability and relaxation I was having whilst playing the game – it’s just a shame it’s behind the paywall, even though this feature alone made me want to get this DLC pack. We now have a night mode! Okay, so the game doesn’t support dynamic lighting based on the time of day – which is a shame, maybe the developers could implement an option to have the night mode gradually come on and off based on the in-game clock? Until then, you can simply select the option in the radial menu and it will instantly become night time.
Okay, so this serves no purpose other than the aesthetic, but it looks great with all the towns displaying their lights at night – especially when you have managed to help the towns get pretty big – and all your locomotives with their headlights driving around. I liked getting the game into an efficient state and then jumping into the drivers-seat view and turning it to night time. The night mode can be activated in any game mode (Scenario, Free and Sandbox) if you own the DLC.
Okay, so that pretty much sums up where we are today if you own the Mexico DLC and have all the latest updates installed. The game is more fleshed out and more accessible than it was on launch and even offers things like the night mode and up to 100 years segments now! But what about the future?
Back to the Future (part III locomotive please…):
As you can see above, we have a new roadmap now that the first 6 months one has been completed. It looks like we are getting both a “Crossing the Andes” and “The Great Lakes” DLC. So I imagine we will see more construction over the water and probably an emphasis on the bridges and tunnels. We are also due to get a ‘Transport update’ and a ‘Staff update’ – I have no idea what these will be but I imagine maybe some new locomotives or an update to the carriages? The Staff update will probably add new classes of people who can be hired or give us more control over what we can do with them as well.
It’s all speculation at the moment as all we have to go off is the above image – however, it’s still a roadmap and it shows the developers are actively supporting the game and are going to be supporting it for a while. Considering they completed their previous roadmap and added on the Mexico DLC as a hidden extra, I have full confidence that this one will also be achieved and it will add more content and enjoyment into this already pretty amazing game!
Official Trailer (for Mexico):
Railway Empire: Mexico is a great first piece of DLC for the brilliant Railway Empire. Not only do you get a new Scenario, a massive Free Mode and Sandbox map, two new locomotives, and two new resources, but you also get access to the night mode which allows you to play any map in the dead of night. Other than the scenario, the DLC doesn’t really offer any new features or mechanics. However, the game has received numerous updates since launch which has added a multitude of new features for free which has really changed the way you play the game and the strategies you must utilise. If you’re looking for a great Train-based game which has a strong emphasis on resource and locomotive management, as well as the ability to build and manage your own railway line, then this game is for you. If you want to further expand your selection of maps into Mexico and have the ability to deliver Coffee and Sugar at Nighttime, then pick up the Railway Empire: Mexico DLC pack as well!
Railway Empire: Mexico DLC£6.49
- The Mexico scenario is long and hard
- The night mode is an awesome addition
- New resources add more management and creation options
- Two new trains to invest in
- Decent amount of content for existing owners
- Still no official photo mode, although on PC it does have one now
- The time to complete certain criteria seems more tight than the base game
- I would have liked a few smaller scenarios on segments of Mexico as well as the whole map one
- An active day/night cycle toggle would have been nice, so it dynamically changes in-game over time