Publisher Travian Games and developer Bright Future recently brought their browser-based strategy game Rail Nation to American players with Rail Nation USA. In the game, players select from either the Atlantic Railway in the east or Pacific Railroad in the west and then proceed to expand their network of trains. After selecting from one of 50 American cities, players must then plan routes for delivering goods as well as construct additional tracks which in turn connect to more cities and resources. While initially beginning in the era of steam engines, players research additional technologies such as diesel and electric trains as eras advance over the span of real-life time.
As a fan of other train strategy and simulator games I was eager to create my locomotive empire in Rail Nation USA. I began in the city of Boston and expanded my rail network inward in hopes to connect to a wide array of resources from produce to textiles. While early trains are slow and rail networks aren't very expansive, after a couple of eras the game becomes more interesting as new locomotives and research becomes available. The game follows the same formula of other free-to-play browser-based games in that premium currency can be used to either speed along or avoid having to raise enough money to complete various game actions. Fortunately, Rail Nation USA doesn't overly advertise the premium currency or block the game progress in anyway. I viewed the longer waits as opportunities to switch to other real-life tasks or games while waiting for research points or trains to complete their routes.
At the heart of your progress in the game is the train station, which functions as your central hub for upgrading various buildings from an engine shed to a bank. Each of the buildings function as upgrades that allow for further game progress. Upgrades to the engine shed for example allow for the storage of additional trains, or while upgrading the bank increases your account's limit of money. The other major aspect of the game's progression system involves managing a fleet of trains and their specific routes. Supply and demand plays an important role as the profits of routes can shift each day creating for a dynamic gameplay experience. The only gripe I had with routes was in the planning stages in that each train has to be selected individually to view their stops. Players can also upgrade their trains through research trees, which coincide with the six game eras, that unlocks various train upgrades from faster speeds to better durability ratings.
The game world is presented as a massive overlay of the United States with various cities and resource locations. The beginning scope begins quite small but soon expands to reveal an ever-expanding network of railways. Unfortunately, players aren't able to lay their own tracks but simply select from the construction of pre-laid lines. Other than that, players have nearly unlimited freedom in the direction they pursue for expanding their train empire. Both the massive game world and time required for later game actions ensure a lengthy experience. The downtime in between game actions is what I was most disappointed with as there aren't any more hands-on activities to complete. The game takes a automatic approach to gameplay as the extent of manual actions involves completing some tasks and then waiting till the next day.
Yet, Rail Nation USA is an entertaining game to pick up and play from time to time to further progress your train empire even if not much manual input is required. While the game does contain a premium currency aspect, it fortunately doesn't force the player to spend any real money. Rail Nation USA is recommended to both train and strategy game enthusiasts.
Rail Nation USA is available now for web browsers.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I've been writing for Gaming Nexus since 2011 and focus primarily on PC games and hardware. I'm a strong advocate of independent developers and am always seeking the next genre-breaking and unique game release. My favorite game genres are strategy, role-playing, and massively multiplayer online, or any games that feature open worlds and survival elements. View Profile