A European and a North American campaign can be tackled, each with numerous missions. The missions are set in the historical context of the 19th and 20th century and offer a wide range of real-world transportation challenges. For instance, players are tasked to build a section of the first transcontinental railroad, help to build the Panama Canal, found an airline or develop the Alps. Frame stories make sure the campaigns are entertaining. Tasks include decisions and players can therefore fulfill the goals in several ways. Missions can be completed with different scores and hence offer challenges for both beginners and ambitious players. In order to complete a campaign it takes about 10 hours of play time.
Players start after 1850 and build up a transport company. Infrastructure such as stations, harbors, airports, tracks and streets can be constructed to link hubs of trade and meet the needs of evolving cities. The vehicle fleet requires clever management and should be kept up with the times. Different strategies can lead to a successful entrepreneurship: While the one player may prefer fast passenger trains and frequent tram connections, another may focus on heavy freight ships, cargo hubs and trucks. A European and a North American scenario including matching vehicles and environment are available. Both randomly generated and predefined maps can be played. Optionally, more than 25 challenging achievements can be followed.
The track and street construction tools are of highest importance and therefore a lot of development time was spent to optimize this feature. As a result, Transport Fever features the arguably most intuitive and powerful railroad track construction tools ever seen in a game. With a simple click and drag interface, switches, crossings, single- and multi-crossovers, parallel tracks, catenary, railroad crossings, bridges and tunnels can be built. Moreover, the terrain can be aligned realistically, and signals can be placed to control the behavior of the trains. Finally, the building construction tools are smart as well: Train, bus and truck stations, airports and harbors can all be extended and upgraded.
Urban development is realistically simulated. The player’s transport connections influence land use and value, and towns and cities evolve accordingly. Each inhabitant is individually simulated and behaves intelligently. If people want to reach destinations for work, shopping or leisure, they either go by walking, by car or by using one or multiple of the player’s transport lines. A sophisticated economy model and freight simulation approximate realistic town needs for consumer and industrial goods. Mines, refineries and factories located outside of the towns produce or process goods. When they are able to ship their products, they will grow. Goods are processed or refined multiple times in complex cargo chains.
Extensive modding support and Steam workshop integration allow fans to easily extend the game and share their work. Most game objects can be modified or created: Players can not only create and share their own maps, vehicles and buildings, but they can also develop any kind of constructions. Also advanced creations like for example a curved train station with a curvature parameter are possible. Integrating a bus stop in the same construction would easily be possible too, because most of the game’s features can be freely combined. Because the game’s campaigns are implemented with a script interface, modders can even create and share their own missions or whole campaigns. This offers a wide range of new possibilities and challenges.
Physically-based lighting and graphics ensure a high level of immersion. Vehicle details include working lights, transparent windows and interiors, visible drivers and passengers, adaptable painting colors and dynamic aging with dirt and rust. Also, the movement of trains, road vehicles, ships and planes is approximated according to the laws of physics. A lot of work has been put into complex animations like doors, flaps and gears. Another top priority was the development of an intuitive user interface including a step-by-step tutorial to guarantee a shallow learning curve. Finally, sufficient performance also in the late game should make sure that the fun doesn’t end when scenes get huge.