When does it arrive, and how?
It will install automatically via Steam in the early morning on 23rd September 2011, at no cost to existing RW2 users. This is the same method as was used for the RW1 to RW2 upgrade. (Obviously it might be late, but that's the plan anyway.)
Any Railworks users logging in to Steam after the release will be automatically upgraded. The estimated download size is about 1.4 GB.
What are the major new features?
With a very broad brush:
- Graphics engine completely overhauled. Now supports distant mountains, headlights, platform lighting and rain on the windows (finally, a reason to turn on the wipers). Probably more efficient too.
- Vertical transition curves and superelevation are now available. This should make realistic track geometry much easier to achieve for route authors. Trains will now bank into curves on canted track. Superelevation will not, however, be applied automatically to existing routes.
- Some improvements to the scenario and route editors. Laying out forests will definitely be made easier.
- AI trains will be able to perform simple shunting (coupling to stock that hasn't moved since scenario start; uncoupling from stock). They will also be able to stop at arbitrary positions on the track, not just at predefined destination markers.
- Cab sway and uneven track now supported, to give a better sense of speed and immersion. Consist/coupling dynamics are reported to be greatly improved. Double-heading and banking with dissimilar traction types will also work much better than before - in particular this should make DVT and DTCL operation far more realistic.
- Existing DLC routes and stock will be worked on over time to bring them up to the new standards. For now, everything will still work, but new features won't be taken advantage of. Upgraded routes will probably be provided as enhanced "clone" versions so that scenarios for the old versions still work.
Do I have to upgrade my PC?
Probably not, as long as you can already run RW2.
RSC assure us that special effort has been taken to avoid increasing the minimum-spec to run RW3 - but not necessarily with all the eye-candy turned on. As always, using a newish and powerful machine will make it run better than on an older or cheaper model.
If you have a very basic graphics card but a reasonable CPU, consider upgrading the graphics, since RW3 will move more work to the graphics card. Otherwise, my advice is to wait and see. If you can already run RW2, then very likely RW3 will run fine with at least the original graphics.
Once experienced users have the chance to run RW3 for themselves on their own hardware, we'll be in a better position to offer hardware advice to those who need it. We expect to have a new FAQ entry on the subject.
Are there any new routes or stock?
An extra route will be bundled with each RW3 copy sold. Existing RW2 owners will need to buy this route as DLC through Steam, if they want it. Current indications are that this will be the Norfolk Southern route in Pennsylvania, incorporating Horseshoe Curve. RSC say the new route is fully optimised to show off the new graphics technology, superelevation, etc.
Two new locomotives will be added to the default roster: an extra EMD F7 (probably just a new livery to go with the new route) and the Hitachi Super Express.
Are there any screenshots or trailer videos?
Screenshots are available here: http://www.railsimulator.com/microsite_ts2012/index.html
There are also quite a few preview videos floating around, including a long one made by James Woodcock.
UPDATED with some more complete information from RSC and the previewees.