Do you want to become a big railroad tycoon? Test your resilience in the best train PC games.
What are the best PC train games? The prospect of building and managing your own rail network is something very tempting, whether it’s an interest in the logistics of paving routes and routing, or a desire to be in circles with Vanderbilt and Stanford, some of the greatest railroad tycoons in history. Being in charge of an entire railroad company is a nerve-racking but lucrative undertaking that can clarify or break the minds of even the best businessmen. It’s also a lot of fun.
Among the railway games on the PC, the choice for promising dealers is great. The genre is already more than a dozen years old – it originates already in the first half of the eighties, and from that moment its history has managed to be enriched with masterpieces, both modern and time-tested classics.
But not all of these games are large-scale, complex, and involving a bunch of spheres of the business simulator. Yes, there are some – for those who want to feel like a real tycoon and check what he is worth, but sometimes you just want to get a box with toy trains and give free rein to your imagination.
From hyper-realistic train simulators to minimalist puzzle games, this list features nine of the best train PC games, so there’s something for everyone who wants to feel like a railroad worker.
Railroad Tycoon ii
The first Railroad Tycoon game, released in 1990, is considered the pioneer of the railroad simulation genre. In this creation by legendary game designer Sid Meier, you were asked to try on the top hat of an aspiring tycoon and take control of a burgeoning railroad empire in the first half of the 1800s. With a $ 1 million start-up capital, you build stations, pave tracks, set shipping prices, buy new locomotives, and expand your network.
For all its revolutionary nature, the game was not without sharp corners, but they were mostly polished in the sequel, released in 1998. Railroad Tycoon II takes all the best from its predecessor and enriches it: for example, instead of one century, the game touches the entire period of the history of railroad transportation, from the first appearance of this type of road to the present day.
It has many different scenarios, each with its own goals and rewards, and more than 50 types of locomotives available for purchase and subsequent use. Railroad Tycoon II set the bar for the railroad management genre and remains the standard for quality even today. If you like old games with a gridded map more than 3D, then this is exactly what you need.
Railroad Tycoon 3
In 2003, the Railroad Tycoon series entered a new era. The third part of the franchise has abandoned the cells and isometrics, moving to 3D. The number of available locomotives has also changed – now there are 60 of them, and this is more than in other games in the series. Some of the biggest changes include a completely redesigned economic system, making Railroad Tycoon 3 one of the best strategy games for train lovers.
The game feels generally friendlier than its predecessor – thanks to several innovations aimed at making life easier. For example, the ability to configure trains so that they automatically pick up the most profitable and relevant goods for transportation reduces the required amount of micro-control, and the button to go to the global map makes it easy to see where specific goods can be delivered most profitably in your network. Overall, this is the most polished embodiment of the Railroad Tycoon formula.
Launched in 2009, the Train Simulator series challenges players to operate trains from the inside. If you don’t like looking at the game world from a distant perspective of management simulators, then Train Simulator is your antidote. You just sit in the cabin of the locomotive, pulling levers and turning knobs, all in the first person. It’s a leisurely, meticulous activity, very different from what you have to do in business simulators like Railroad Tycoon or Railway Empire.
Train Simulator has an active community, and the developers of Dovetail Games are constantly adding new trains, routes, and challenges to the game. If you are looking for a new perspective, see yourself as a railroad worker, or just want to move the trains a little, feel free to sit in the Train Simulator cab.
Train Fever goes somewhat beyond the usual framework, offering players not only to manage railways but to build an entire transport empire. In addition to laying roads and building stations, you will have to manage the transportation of goods from mines, forests, farms, and more. And it will also be necessary to build city roads so that containers with these goods can definitely get to the right stations.
You have to do a lot of things at the same time, and it is difficult at first, but those players who can master the steep learning curve here will discover Train Fever as a very enjoyable simulator for PC.
Don’t be fooled by Mini Metro’s minimalist styling. This is a challenging but friendly puzzle game where you need to think quickly and react even faster. In this game, you build a network of roads, helping passengers to efficiently get to the desired stations, represented as common nodes.
The main thing here is to route the routes optimally, as your network grows rather quickly. Fortunately, over time, improvements become available to you that make it easier to deal with this – tunnels, stations with higher bandwidth, and so on.
Mini Metro is a lot like Train Valley. However, the distinctive visual style of the subway map and the ability to make improvements make this game distinctive enough to be worth trying, even if you already know Train Valley.
Train Valley 1 and 2
Not every train PC game is a comprehensive and complex managerial simulator. Take Train Valley, for example. In this great puzzle game, you have to guide trains of various types to the desired stations, making tracks on the go. If you drive the train to the wrong station, you will lose points. Because each level is small in size and independent of the others, Train Valley is ideal for short play sessions, and the ranking system encourages replaying of challenges that have already been completed.
The first Train Valley was already beyond praise, and the second diversified the formula, adding supply and demand. Different stations give you access to different loads that might be in demand elsewhere, so the order in which you connect stations suddenly becomes very important. Trying to keep up with the demand at the stations and completing time trials, you feel that Train Valley 2 is a surprisingly intense workout for the brain. If your soul asks for puzzles about trains, then with Train Valley you will not go wrong.
Tracks – The Toy Train Set Game
After all the fiddling with numbers and micromanagement of “big” train simulators, sometimes you want to relax and try something more carefree and unhurried. This is where Tracks – The Toy Train Set Game comes in. This is a sandbox game where there is no specific goal, except to build the most quirky town you can think of. And all this with the help of wooden toy tracks and trains, just like in childhood.
It’s a nostalgia that makes Tracks so fun. This is a great place to embody all those grandiose ideas that your little self could not express with toys. The game is as charming as it is creative, and provides an excellent opportunity to re-experience that dozing childhood craving for creativity.
Railway Empire, which appeared on the railroad simulator market relatively recently, made many different changes to the concept established by Railroad Tycoon many years ago. The most notable ones include the ability to explore over three hundred technologies through the tree in the spirit of 4X games, such as new locomotives, more efficient engines, station upgrades, and much more.
Human resource management plays a big role in your growing empire: you need to hire and provide a salary for everyone, from engineers to plant managers. In addition, the Railway Empire gives players the opportunity to engage in unfair competition by resorting to espionage, which allows them to implement various insidious tactics. New train games in the classic Tycoon style are rare, and the innovations of Railway Empire live up to the expectations.
As you can see from our roundup of the PC version of Metro Exodus, this is a survival horror game as much as a train game. On your journey through nuclear-ravaged Russia, you will meet many controversial characters, but the most important thing will be the steel giant spewing clubs of steam, on which you will make it – that is, Aurora.
Throughout the third installment of the Metro series, this locomotive will become your home, and you will add new trailers to it as more and more people join the team wanting to find a more picturesque home than the subway tunnels filled with mutants. You will even have the opportunity to take one of these to your mobile base – you will have to escape from a huge mutant whale and a horde of Beastmen, but it will be worth it. Be prepared for the fact that significant changes await Aurora from the beginning of the trip to its completion (or rather, different options for its completion).
The more your colorful company grows, the more homely the atmosphere on Aurora becomes. On the road from one monster-infested destination to another, you can while away the hours playing the guitar, sharing food and drink with friends, or taking a smoke break with your father-in-law Miller.
As the world outside becomes more inhospitable (and sometimes full of bloodthirsty cannibals), Aurora turns into an increasingly cozy place to relax. When Mother Russia decides to once again generously endow with problems, it is Aurora who invariably brings Artyom’s uneasy adventure back on track.
Train games may not be as popular as some of the brighter genres like the best RPGs or first-person shooters, but their players have a wide range of choices. Whether you are looking for a full-fledged railroad business simulator or just want to play with a box of toy trains full, there is definitely a game that will appeal to you. So put on the driver’s cap, light the boiler and go, to the sound of the wheels!