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Derail Valley Early Access update: gamebreakers fixed

by: Dave -
More On: Derail Valley

As mentioned in our preview, Derail Valley is an excellent train simulator built from the rails up to be an equally good VR title. VR lends itself extremely well to many types of vehicle simulation, but it appears that operating locomotives is one of the most enjoyable of the bunch. As it was, and still is, in Early Access, we looked beyond some of the more egregious teething problems that would be considered to be gamebreakers in a full release. Some of the worse were the way rocks and vegetation would block the railroad, albeit without actually blocking your train, the nearly impossible task of feeding coal into the steam engine's fire box in VR, and seemingly constant and unavoidable derailments. While it was easy to see what the game would eventually become, it took a lot of patience to keep playing it with those problems.

The development team has been working diligently on getting new features in place while balancing the need to get some of the fundamentals fixed. The beauty of Early Access is having great visibility into how games actually get made, especially when the dev team is so open in their communications and open to suggestions and resolving complaints. Going above and beyond, they also release a video that describes the items addressed in every build.

As of build #70/71 (the builds are often followed in a day or two by a hot fix for the type of regression bugs introduced with major changes), the game is now quite playable. The rogue shrubbery and boulders have been removed from the tracks, a temporary improvement to the coal shoveling mechanic is in place with a permanent solution to follow, and many of the issues causing improper derailments have been fixed. The game is now, in this writer's opinion, pretty much ready for people that like Early Access, but not too early.

There are still many new features to be added, but the core functionality is not only working, but a great deal of fun.

Derail Valley Early Access is available on Steam for a very reasonable $19.99.