A Weekend's Worth Of Early Access - Thoughts

Discussion in 'TSW General Discussion' started by Luke8899, Sep 5, 2022.

  1. Luke8899

    Luke8899 Well-Known Member

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    Having had a couple of days to get used to TSW3 core and new routes, and without the distraction the older content will inevitably bring when it arrives tomorrow, I'll share my impressions now after a weekend of playing.

    New UI
    Takes a bit of getting used to but leagues ahead of where it was, and does a good job in actually making this feel like a modern and exciting game, for a start you feel like you are in a game that wants you there rather than, as previously and as per other sims, grants you access but does nothing to help you in beyond that. It's still not ideal of course, it still doesn't work that well with controller, and the flows in some parts don't quite work or are not obvious, but per the overall conclusion, it is a step in the right direction for getting people in and playing the game, providing ways to access content without everything being siloed according to DLC, and without providing too many needless barriers (though I will point out some glaring ones for accessibility below).

    Core TSW3 Improvements
    Lighting
    I think it is fair to say this has been received well by most, and with good reason, whilst not being able to point to one specific thing that transforms the lighting, the overall effect just seems to be so much better. Coming into the game is now so much nicer to look at, as I've said elsewhere, dawn and dusk are unrecognisable, they have basically become my go-to times of day, and that is no small feat. Well done devs. It is true that the lighting brings forth the argument that older routes should see it too, however I can see the inherent difficulties in doing this, and the potential for a spiral if you just do one highly requested route, and then it's difficult to resist doing others. That said, if London Commuter could have this lighting and sky, then it really would be verging on perfect (gameplay-affecting bugs aside of course).
    Sky
    Along with the above, the volumetric clouds transform the look of the game, and I was a big fan of the previous skybox update and skeptical a first implementation of volumetric clouds would look as good. But yep, proved wrong completely, the varying formations and how they work with different light is just a sight to behold. The sky now competes with the trains for what to be looking at when playing.
    Dynamic Weather
    Although I've seen feedback stating it is too obvious, too prone to worsening weather to extremes, my experience so far with the results has been mixed, and as I am usually a sit-down-and-play-for-an-hour-max type, the degree of change and the speed it changes is perfect. The dynamic weather is what I expected and as I assume many play for short periods, I think it's a good default for showing off what dynamic weather actually does. That said, anything allowing players more customisation of their experience is a good thing.
    Training Centre
    Some of the things you can do with this track are genuinely hilarious, having a sandbox without signalling restrictions is a work of genius, even if not for everyone, it adds a new dimension to how you experience the trains. There is a lot to be said for allowing players to experience the trains without the route they are made for, it gives a different experience and one I think was worth it. And pro-tip, figure out which trains let you open the doors whilst moving, and let them go free...

    Routes
    Kassel - Wurzburg
    High speed point-to-point with numerous tunnels won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it adds to the growing variety of German content with a strong entry in the high speed category. It is very well accomplished for what it is, it feels very different to SKA or HMA, and what you lose in raw 'driving' experience, you make up for with genuinely impressive scenery and the feeling of speed over long distances/significant amounts of time. The longest route yet sets a decent standard, and of course, the BR 401 is an absolute delight to have in the game.
    Southeastern High Speed extended
    If this doesn't prove there is a strong case for going back and improving and extending existing content, then nothing will. Of course, the balance of new and existing will be different for every route, but this one has absolutely delivered on creating a totally different experience whilst re-using a lot of existing content, the degree to which HS1 actually feels like a high speed line now cannot be understated. The extension to Dartford and better utilisation of the 465 really have bought the conventional rail side of things to life too. There's little doubt after experiencing this that it was the right route to revisit (sorry GWE superfans!).
    Cajon Pass
    Although American freight does not sit high on my list of desires for this game, and it will inevitably be my least played route of these 3, it is nevertheless an impressive route in many ways, and there are opportunities for getting up to some speed, but obviously within the context of US freight railways. The environment, which is the first time I've seen a sandy dry environment attempted in TSW, looks phenomenal even if, of the three, its the environment that struggles the most due to the wide expanses and difficulty of filling it up. The gameplay is not necessarily up my alley, but I have found the Northern end of the route simpler, faster, and less curvy, therefore allowing for some more straightforward gameplay without necessarily having to dedicate large amounts of time or attention to those bloody dynamic brakes.

    Room for Improvement
    Graphical Quality & Performance
    As ever, the game still has some moments where you see very clearly behind the curtain and it dampens the immersion. There are very clear abrupt ends to distant scenery in SKW and CP, there is some very late pop-in, or assets that are low quality and yet close enough to the track that it's difficult to miss them. I haven't been paying close attention, but I would say at worse stuttering is the same as it was in TSW2, I think I have seen less, but I am playing on a different platform to usual so difficult to make any reliable comparison.
    Imparting important information
    Tool tips make a difference, and definitely are an improvement, thank you for these. But some info remains unknown, with no obvious way to find out other than to ask here. Every loco, but in particular every German loco, needs to have a "how to unfreeze emergency brakes" as part of the loco intro. The one thing guaranteed to happen with German locos is a PZB error followed by emergency braking application, knowing how to undo the brakes in this situation is vital info for most players, and not necessarily the same across across all locos. Not helped that there are no on-screen notification for this, unlike releasing the brakes generally. Consider at least adding a tooltip.
    Accessibility
    The game does have some nifty tricks, and a dedicated menu with options contained is welcome. But the list of issues is long, too long for anything other than a 50 page report tbh (something you can request from Microsoft during your Xbox certification testing FYI). Small text sizes in subtitles and distance markers persist, no options to change them, no options to improve their very poor contrast by default. The main map, which with longer routes, is harder and harder to see all in one, so it forces players to move around it more with hold-inputs to zoom in and out and scroll across it, and the map in the pause menu has tiny, overlapping text and is generally difficult to make any use of. It is hard to see which element focus is on in the UI, as there is no obvious highlight, and the colours for selecting options make it difficult to know what is selected when offered a choice in a dialogue box. Things like dynamically changing the loco or route options to the last played seem like a good idea, but the benefit they have to most players is minimal, whereas they can actually make it much more confusing for some players, who rely on consistent navigation, things being where they expect them to be, this should be an option to disable I think. Similarly, the new moving background videos in the UI can cause visual distractions that are unnecessary. But by far the biggest accessibility fail remains lack of input re-mapping. I know from experience how difficult this is when making a game from scratch, let alone how infinitely harder it is to do once you try and do it with an established title years down the line. But in terms of the potential it unlocks, I think it is worth even hiring even a small team, to work on that, and that alone. Giving players the ultimate freedom over inputs, in game and across the UI can unlock a game for many people, and even moreso if linked with increasing the number of compatible input devices.

    Overall
    A good step in the right direction, executed well. New sky, lighting, dynamic weather, UI, training centre, these are all good things that have added depth to TSW, and given how often aspects related to these features have come up as suggestions from players, I can't fault them being priorities with this iteration. This game is always going to evolve steadily rather than suddenly turn a new corner suddenly with across the board changes, and with that perspective in mind, this is the right evolution and for me the game is now definitively more immersive and easier to explore, whilst not adding more pressure to take it seriously, or removing the fun that goes along with it. I appreciate the difficulty of towing a line between simulation, and a game anyone can play, and I do genuinely think TSW does this incredibly well and even moreso with this version. An increasingly solid foundation, but as ever a work in progress, still lots more that can be done on to make it more accessible to more players, to reduce the frustration that comes with simulating complex tasks, and to try and make sure the game always looks its best.
     
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  2. junior hornet

    junior hornet Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately though, the lack of a save game makes these spanking new long routes unplayable.
     
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  3. CrAzZyKiLLa

    CrAzZyKiLLa Well-Known Member

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    Very detailed, accurate and hopefully usefull post. Amazing work, well done. I can see you put alot of work into it. I agree with every point. I would also love to see London Commuter get some of the new TSW3 features, but I'm sure there will be alot of requests for these to be brought forward. I Also heavily agree with the point of very harsh distant scenary cut off, this can be seen very evidently at Hoo Junction on SEHS, even from the train (Screenshot examples provided)

    20220903124308_1.jpg 20220903124323_1.jpg
     
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  4. DTG Alex

    DTG Alex Community Manager Staff Member

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    This is a very well written and constructive post, we appreciate your feedback greatly and it's great to hear you're enjoy the game :)
    Thank you!
     
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  5. Isaak

    Isaak Well-Known Member

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    Very well written, I agree with all your feedback. My short evaluation after one weekend of playing is: definitely worth the investment, but needs polishing.
     
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  6. Théo Baltor

    Théo Baltor Member

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    The lots of stuttering since TSW2020 persists and is very annoying! I tried many tutorials and configs, without success. Please DTG, put this problem on #1 of your list and fix it! Pls!
     
  7. rennekton#1349

    rennekton#1349 Well-Known Member

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    The stuttering has to do with the environment loading and unloading.
     
  8. OldVern

    OldVern Well-Known Member

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    For save game you can temporarily use the UUU utility and console commands as referenced elsewhere. However it should be noted this is still subject to the occasional failure as per why DTG withdrew the old system, as I discovered resuming a run on Cajon last night!

    Generally TSW3 is very good, if not quite worth the rather high asking price. My verdict is firmly out on the lighting though, we need some sort of option to tone down the washed out effect it can impart in bright sunlight or around midday.
     
  9. hansmorse22

    hansmorse22 Member

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    Have to agree, I haven't completed anything yet! Too many distractions, so not a sim for those with limited time.
     
  10. Théo Baltor

    Théo Baltor Member

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    Hi, rennekton. Can you explain it to me? Tks!
     
  11. Tanglebones

    Tanglebones Well-Known Member

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    And while I appreciate everyone's perspective is different, I have to disagree. I've managed to play long routes without saving for years - just go out to the menu and stay there. Return the next day and resume. I use a PC so this is easy, but I'm sure there are similar workarounds for a console, for most players.

    By all means, they need to fix the save game ASAP. But 'unplayable'? No, far from it, IMO.
     
  12. rennekton#1349

    rennekton#1349 Well-Known Member

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    I know nothing about game development but basically when you're playing a route, it has to load tiles of scenery, assets, anything in the environment. And then unload what you don't need in the scene. This can cause slight stuttering. I'm sure there are other reasons for stuttering such as whether it's optimized well performance wise
     
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  13. Hiro Protagonist

    Hiro Protagonist Well-Known Member

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    I've operated like this ever since my first 3-hour long SPG run got ruined by a stuck red light at the very end. In fact, now that I think of it I did the same thing back in TSC, where issues would arise of AI trains running reds if you saved mid-route (was usually less risky to save when you were stopped at a station but it was still no guarantee).
     

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