Planet Zoo from Frontier Developments

I know it’s not exactly the same, but I found Parkasaurus to be a very good management-centric zoo tycoon game.

I’d have bought Parkasaurus ages ago if it weren’t for the… interesting art choices.

I’m waiting for that one to exit EA status. It’s on my wishlist, I think. I was watching like 3-4 dinosaur games at one point.

Yea, sadly that ruined it for me.

It’s definitely hard to get past.

Do you think there is enough game if you’re not a builder? I know there is an assortment of pre-built stuff and I’m sure there is (or will be) an assortment of buildings you can import from Steam. But it doesn’t seem that the game is terribly difficult in the first place, so I wonder about the appeal if you don’t want to build and aren’t jazzed to watch close-ups of cute animals.

I can play two games at the same time if one is ‘active’ and one is a more chill-type game. I often pllay the chill game in the evenings when I’m watching tv with my wife, since I need to engage with her sometimes. Right now my chill game is Slay the Spire, but this seems like a good candidate. Probably won’t get this until closer to Thanksgiving/Christmas though.

Well, Steam says I’m 14 hours in now, and I just finished gold-medalling the Maple Leaf Wildlife Park, which is the first blank slate the campaign mode gives you.

Now, a caveat: I’m a “builder” in that I love city builders and sandboxy “tinker, twiddle knobs, and watch things grow” games. However, I’m not the sort to sink hours into playing with the CAD tools and creating picture-perfect scenes in things like this; I don’t have the patience or creativity for that. I’m content just to drop ploppables down and see what happens. So whether or not you’d call me a builder, I dunno. I just wanted to make it clear where I’m coming from.

That said, I’m enjoying this so far. There is a lot on the management side there, it’s sufficiently crunchy balancing animal needs, research, keeping your staff happy, providing for your guests, and you always feel like there’s something that needs doing, whether it’s trying to figure out if you can reassign your keepers for better productivity before hiring more, or searching for space where you can squeeze in another hot dog shop for your ravenous visitors.

In fact, I think I might be kinda disappointed if I were a “builder” just looking for a building game with a side of management than what I really feel like I am, which is a “manager” with a side of building. If that makes sense?

At any rate, I’ve enjoyed it enough to plug all the way through gold-starring this level just because I wanted to, even though I did kind of zerg-rush the last three species required for that last star because I felt like moving on to another level. You can see this in the screenie I’m about to drop in, where the brand new grizzly bear habitat in the far right doesn’t have any trees or anything because as soon as the keepers unboxed them I said “whew, that’s good enough.”

Regardless… I did a little dickering around with landscaping so things weren’t too barren but mostly ended up shoving things where I could, and even not being an architect and just using the ploppables I researched, I think it came out looking pretty OK.

So that’s my mini-review. It’s a lot more taxing, mentally, than I thought it would be, but not in a bad way. It’s just not a laid back sandbox like, say, Cities Skylines. I’ve enjoyed it, but I also have hundreds of hours in spreadsheet simulators like Football Manager, so I may be a bit broken that way, too. I hope this helps?

(I should also note that I do, now, have 2 CTD in those 14 hours, both of which came after I deleted an entire habitat barrier while keeping the displays and speakers it was attached to hanging in the air; it didn’t seem to like that. After I took those down, it was stable again for the rest of my play time.)

Sorry for the serial posting, but I wanted to note two other things. The first is that I just bought the deluxe edition upgrade on Steam, so yeah, I do think I like this at the moment.

The second is that I definitely feel there’s still depth there I haven’t uncovered, especially in the area of breeding. Every animal has genetics scores which all differ, and the rapid pace of the game means you can quickly pass through multiple generations of a bloodline. I did a little bit of arbitrary breeding just for the leafy-points (whatever you properly call them) you need to buy some animals, but I feel like there’d be a pretty fun little mini-game just in that if you wanted to focus on the conservation and breeding side of things. I’d need to explore that more to know for sure, though.

OK, done now, I promise.

How did you feel about Planet Coaster? Did you ever get a chance to play that?

No, I never got into that one. I’ve looked at it a lot, and even hovered over the buy button a time or two, but from what I’ve seen it’s always looked like it focused too much on the building, like half the game was creating intricate coasters. That was always a reason I never got on with any of the RCT games, either, even though they felt like something I should be all about.

(Plus I’m just not a big theme park guy IRL, either. But I love zoos.)

Well it doesn’t work for Planet Coaster, but years ago my aunt loved RCT and never build a single coast. Seriously, she never built a single one. Planet Coast feels like you have to because of how their scenarios/levels are designed.

Thank you for answering, just kind of getting a baseline for this game. I bounced off Skylines pretty hard, and I haven’t gone back to Planet Coaster in a bit. I’d probably be one of those people that drive some devs nuts, puts in 100 hours into Planet Coaster and gives it a thumbs down, but really it’s more like a sideways thumb because the tools, seeing one of those video of the guy destroy and rebuild his umm looks like planet zoo 2/3 times because the path matches up but no one comes out and that blue bathroom building looks exactly the same as the one in Planet Coaster, the one they whine about if you don’t theme it.

Thanks for all the discussion @kaosfere, it’s helpful for those of us trying to make up our minds. I share Nesrie’s concerns (and she lasted a hell of a lot longer in Planet Coaster than my lousy 15 hours) but really want this to be something I’d enjoy.

I also want to chime in with a thanks to @kaosfere for the detailed review/discussion. That’s a number of good thoughts. I’m struggling to hold on to my resolution to not buy it right now so to placate myself I’m ‘watching’ a couple of streamers play it (mostly while muttering “I could do a better job than that!”).

That’s exactly what I am too. Thanks for the amazing write-up! I’ll give it more time :)


@kaosfere , indeed thank you from me as well.

Frontier put out a trading update. No concrete sales numbers, but they did say this:

I was unable to resist any longer. Zoo tycooning hits me right in my g(amer)-spot. Only done a bit of the tutorial campaign stuff so far, trying to figure out the controls and whatnot.

I post because other owners of the game can appear as visitors in your zoo. No idea if the feature has a point. But @jpinard was one of my first visitors. And he got pickpocketed. Don’t worry, Jeff, we got him and you got your stuff back :-D

You know. As someone who really wants like real interaction with people in these games, coop or competing parks and stuff, I still find the mild interaction kind of neat. I think Planet Coaster did the same thing, right?

I dunno. I bounced off Planet Coaster pretty hard - “want to know how to use the tools? here’s some videos you can go watch”. Never even finished the introductory park even though I’ve tried at least four times. Planet Zoo so far is about 1,000% better on introducing the tools to you.