Rail Nation

Railroad empire builder - In their relatively short history, browser gamers have managed, built, conquered and destroyed virtually everything and anything. Still, one thing remained conspicuously absent from our experience: the creation of a railroad empire.

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Screenshots [click to enlarge]

Game overview

Rail Nation is a managerial browser game by Travian Games that allows the player to create a railroad empire - growing the business while earning money and prestige.

You’re given control of everything and anything – however small – that may have something to do with the growth of a rail empire. Buying and upgrading locomotives and cars is key to this, but the game also includes the construction of new railroad to expand the reach of your control, the search for new technologies and even the administration of your central station.

To make it even more exciting is the subdivision of the game into historical eras, each characterized by specialized trains and infrastructure.

Rail Nation is a title that is not afraid to expect more from the player than just time – and we’re not talking about money either. Unlike many other titles, progression is dictated by more than the hours you spend playing. Overall, the game requires strategy and analysis before it rewards you with satisfactory results.

➔ Main points:

  • A pacific, strategy browser game which doesn't rely on warfare but on cooperation.
  • Diplomacy will be your key to victory.
  • Different eras with new goods to transport and trains.

Full review

Resource management games have been proliferating in the landscape of browser games, thanks to the relative simplicity that lends itself well to the browser format. Some have explored (and pretty much overdone) the medieval setting, while others are dedicated to the more peaceful demands of modern football teams or farms. Rail Nation, which tasks the player with building and managing a complex railroad empire, falls into the third category of games, which don’t feature war but nonetheless offer plenty of opportunity for fierce competition with fellow players.

A look at our pretty train station

The complex life of the railroader

Rail Nation begins like any other browser game, with you choosing an avatar before heading into the tutorial, which is fairly long but detailed and easy to follow. Even here, Rail Nation’s relatively sophisticated approach to difficulty becomes apparent. While it isn’t actually a difficult game, it’s a welcome change from MMOs that virtually throw level-ups at players in order to create a false sense of accomplishment (and keep them playing).

Credit must be given to the developers for creating a game that maintains a high level of accessibility without trivializing or distorting the structure of the gameplay. Gameplay itself isn’t just about buying a bunch of trains and sticking them on tracks, but the management of almost every aspect that might affect a rail empire, taking into consideration also the era you’re playing in.

What’s in a train?

The central element of the game is naturally its trains, divided into locomotives and carriages. The locomotive is the driving force with various qualities and enhancements which give the whole train an advantage, and which can be given a further boost by researching more efficient technologies. The carriages store valuable cargo, which reap money and success for players.

Once you’ve customized the configuration of your trains, you need to choose a route that will yield the greatest reward for your young empire. Which industries are the most deserving? Which cities will prove most profitable? Figuring out the right combination is tricky at first, but helped along by the game showing you the yield of each timetable available until you get the hang of it yourself.

Our trains are delivering some goods to our capital city.

There is also your station to access from the main screen – the true core where you’ll carry out much of your management decisions. Here, you’ll find a whole series of buildings that contribute in one way or another to achieving your goal. In addition to buildings that will directly affect the rate and quality of your tracks and trains (such as the track production and the Garage), there are also secondary buildings like the Restaurant and Hotel that offer extra support in the form of periodic rewards. Naturally, each building is upgradeable for better bonuses.

Room for strategy

The world Travian Games has built is truly gigantic – to the point of being a little overwhelming at first. Cities and Industries are numerous and scattered on the map, and building the best route to connect these points of interest is never as simple as it seems. For instance, some routes require more maintenance than others, reducing the maximum speed at which your trains can travel. Shorter routes aren’t always the most effective choice either, as they may bypass refueling or delivery points. Strategy certainly comes in to play here, and while finding the right route may take a while, it’s always rewarding when you hit the perfect balance.

Graphics

Visually, Rail Nation is in line with the current standards of browser games and is fairly decent graphically, though not awe-inspiring. Static images are alternated with small animations that help give environments a semblance of life – crucial in a 2D game where so much is flat. The menus feel complete, though not particularly complex.

Conclusion

Rail Nation is a management game with enough variety of play and strategy to make it feel truly complete. Contrary to the expectations of its name, trains are far from your only concern when it comes to managing your growing rail empire, and strategy is often more important than just the resources at your disposal. In summary, an excellent title suitable not only for lovers of trains but also to all those who enjoy a game that challenges them.

Ready to enter the world of Rail Nation? Click here to play now!

Graphics: animated artworks
PvP: no fighting
Cash shop influence: average
Exp rate: medium

Originality
Managing a rail empire? This is new to us!

What We Liked..

Has all the characteristics of a management title

Interesting eras of development to play through

Many different trains

More complex than most browser games

.. and what we didn't

Don't expect great action or surprises

Graphically good but not fantastic


Fun factor
3.5 out of 5
Community
3.5 out of 5
Graphics
3.0 out of 5
8.1
Outstanding

Review summary

  1. The complex life of the railroader
  2. What’s in a train?
  3. Room for strategy
  4. Graphics
  5. Conclusion

What we liked..

Has all the characteristics of a management title
Interesting eras of development to play through
Many different trains
More complex than most browser games

.. and what we didn't

Don't expect great action or surprises
Graphically good but not fantastic
8.1
Graphics - 60 / 100
Fun factor - 70 / 100
Longevity - 80 / 100
Originality - 80 / 100
Community - 70 / 100

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