I am a big Train Sim fan and especially like Dovetail Games’ “Train Simulator 2015.” I have a lot of routes and content for that particular game.

However there is another very popular Train Sim game out there called Trainz – it’s made by an Australian developer called N3V Games.

The most recent stable release of this game is Trainz 12. However N3V is working on the next generation of train simulators called Trainz – A New Era (TANE.) They are having some issues and keep pushing back the final release date. However you can get a good deal on a prerelease order at Steam (20% off with lots of promised extras.) So I decided to give it a try. There is a beta version you can play with while waiting for the final release and I have done so.

The next generation of Trainz will have a fully capable graphics engine that uses DX11 and multicore processors (unlike Train Simulator 2015 which is about 5 years behind the times in this regard.) It’s said that there will be a lot more eye candy with TANE (shadows, rain effects, more realistic scenery.) I suppose we’ll see.

Right now I see some very different characteristics between Train Simulator and Trainz. Train Simulator appears to concentrate more on driving locomotives and Trainz is more of a route building and model railroad type of game. As an example I outline how to choose a QuickDrive operation in each simulator. That’s just using a train to explore a route.

In Train Simulator 2015:

  • Choose a route
  • Choose a train
  • Drive

In Trainz:

  • Enter Route Building Mode
  • Lay some track
  • Choose a locomotive and cars and place them on the track
  • Use the Consist selection tool to name and save your train
  • Save your test route and exit
  • Enter Drive Mode.
  • Choose a route
  • Find your consist in the New Trains window
  • Find a spot and place the train on the track
  • Choose a driver (a number of fake people are available)
  • Drive

Just a bit more complicated. Once you drive, Trainz has the option of an easy or realistic mode the same as Train Simulator. The Realistic modes are slightly different but Trainz has some excellent driving tutorials to help with this.

Right now I would say Train Simulator still has the edge. Graphics are better even though TS uses an older graphics engine. There is a lot more download content available for TS 2015 – either from the developer or third parties. It’s more realistic although in both cases you know you are dealing with virtual reality.

Both simulations require a powerful computer. I have a quad core i5 and a pretty good graphics card and I just barely qualify for the “recommended” setup in both programs.

I’m looking forward to the developments in Trainz – A New Era and I can also learn a bit about model railroading on the PC so I figure getting TANE at a discount was a good deal. I’ll still play Train Simulator though.