On the game shelf in my room, there exist some of the greatest video games of this generation. Titles like Nioh, Shadow of the Colossus, Gravity Rush 2, Uncharted 4, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Switch, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. They sit largely unplayed, maybe a couple dozen minutes spent with each title here and there. It's not because I don't want to play them or that I don't have the time. In fact, despite working a full-time job and doing all the preview and interviews I do for this site, I have more time than ever before. They're sitting there because every day after work when I need the stress of life to fall from my shoulders, I'm not killing orcs or shooting up enemy encampments. Instead, I'm taking the BR Class 43 HST from Slough to Ealing Broadway in Train Sim World.
I've never been a train person. I don't remember ever owning a Thomas the Tank Engine set as a child though I'm sure I did as it's one of those toys that always finds its way into children's bedrooms. I do remember the first time I rode a train, though. It was through the forests of Washington. My family and I were on a day trip and the folks thought it would be a fun family activity. I remember sitting there, looking out as the trees moved slowly by, the light peeking through the canopy illuminating the stream a few yards from the tracks. It's a lovely image, but it's not when a fascination with trains began to bubble. That wouldn't happen until Animal Crossing.
The opening of that landmark title, where Rover chats me up on my way to my new, takes place on a train, and a pleasant one at that. For all the years of train levels in platformers, shooters, and that steam engine you suplex in Final Fantasy VI, this would be the first time I would appreciate the marvel of the locomotive. That appreciation only grew with games like The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Ticket to Ride, Resident Evil 0, Paper Mario: Color Splash, and now Train Sim World.