A couple years ago, a small indie developer brought us Train Fever, but their follow up sees them tackle more than just trains. In fact, Transport Fever covers all the bases, with airports and harbours letting you expand your transport empire into water and air trade.
As before, you’re tasked with connecting all the settlements and buildings on the map, shuffling passengers and resources from one place to another while trying not to run out of money, let your vehicles crash. The basic premise here is the same as in Train Fever, but with all those added forms of transport.
The game is still set between 1850 and the present day, and through those 150 years, settlements will grow, new technologies are discovered and new vehicles become available. With over 120 different vehicles, there’s a huge array of trains, aircrafts, ships, buses, trams and trucks at your disposal. By earning money through transporting goods and passengers, you can upgrade your business and branch out into new forms of transport.
At the beginning, horse drawn carts are at the heart of your business, but while they’re cheap to buy and maintain, they’re also slow and can only take a few people or goods at a time. Seasoned players will know that it’s the maintenance fees that will get you. As your vehicles get older, maintenance costs can increase significantly, eating away at any profit that the line might be bringing in.
You can upgrade any of your vehicles as they get towards the end of their working lives, but it’s always important to be aware of what vehicles you have in your network. The very first motorised trucks are significantly faster than horse and cart, but you will only see the speed benefits if they don’t get stuck behind slower moving vehicles on their route. The key to the game is always thinking ahead, and planning your next moves carefully.
Railways are another key way of moving goods and people around your network, especially over longer distances where travel by road would take too long. Again, planning your railways is critical. If it’s the early days, you’ll only be running along a single track and will need to anticipate where trains will need to pass each other, tactically placing sidings and signals that will allow you to do this. ]
Speaking of railway tracks, I’m pleased to say that that the system for placing them seems to have improved quite a bit. The positioning and collision system in Train Fever was incredibly frustrating, and although there are still some gremlins, I found myself pulling my hair out far less in Transport Fever. As you progress, you will eventually be able to upgrade your stations and tracks to increase capacity.
Alongside the usual sandbox structure, which gives you free reign, Transport Fever brings with it a new campaign mode. With two campaigns, one based in Europe and one in America, you have 20 missions to complete. They revolve around real world challenges, such as the building of the Gotthard tunnel, and they’re a great addition to the game, bringing structure and guidance to those that want it. Step by step, the objectives will guide you in building your transport empire from the beginning to end, while also giving you significant choices to make along the way.
For example, you may have to resolve worker strikes, and the game gives you a few options for how to do so. You could increase their pay, or simply fire the lot of them. Another example in the American campaign saw me run into issues with Native Americans who lived on land that I wished to build my railroad through. I was given three options here: purchase new land for them to settle on (which was incredibly expensive), forcibly remove the inhabitants, or bribe them with firewater. I went with the third option as it was cheap and cheerful compared to the other options, and on went the construction of my railroad towards the next settlement, achieving my current objective.
Parallel to the campaign’s objectives, there are also little tasks that pop up during each mission. These are entirely optional, but can take you on a bit of a wild goose chase, searching through the map for clues to find a mysterious gem stone or looking for Native American treasure. They’re tasks that allow you to take in more of the scenery, as the maps are again full of lovely details. The settlements are busy, and the vehicles are well modelled with great attention to detail.
If you enjoyed Train Fever, then it’s almost certain that you’ll enjoyed Transport Fever. With a new campaign mode, the addition of airports and harbours opens up a wealth of transportation routes for your business to expand into. It’s also not that far away from launch, set for release for PC on 8th November. It’s certainly looking like a game that tycoon fans should keep an eye on.