Feast your eyes on my latest invention, a zoo to surpass all zoos. Admire the ways in which I’ve forced logic upon this illogical landscape, the brick trails I have laid along with the trees I’ve planted to shade them. Buy a balloon or five.
What is that? You wish to know where the creatures are?
It seems I got so absorbed into laying down this incredible path you see before you…I possibly ran out of money before buying any animals. Well, actually we’ve got a single frog. You can view it on there. Exit on the left after, I’m sure you’ve had a wonderful time. Please do come back again. We really, really need your money when this zoo is definitely likely to be a success. Please.
If we could talk to the animals…
Planet Zoo has devoured my life, just like I knew it would. Having put 10 or so hours to the match during its beta phase , I have now put an additional 30 into the release build. And they’ve been those frightful”Playing with a Builder” hourswhere you blink and comprehend six hours vanished while you were futzing about placing baobab trees and turning a jumble of rocks into a proper bear cave.
It is a lot of hours, the majority of them spent Franchise Mode. I did dabble in the Career early on, but quickly tired of going through the movements of what felt like an extended tutorial. The prefab zoos Frontier involves for each mission are inspirational, sure, but unlocking all 14 will take a good deal of patience. You can play a limited toolbox in someone else’s zoo. . .or you can just go make your own.
And also make your own, I did. You start with a restricted construction kit and limited funds, then slowly expand both your zoo as well as your options. You can explore new topics to decorate your own zoo, new team facilities to accommodate your growing employee pool, new barriers to protect your visitors from your critters (and vice versa), and so on.
Beginning a new zoo is still intimidating, introduced with acres upon acres of vacant land to fill. It is manageable though, with the majority of the nonfunctional items hidden until after you have laid down a base and done some research.
Obviously, that also means you’re going to accelerate the very first time. After spending 12 to 15 hours on my first, I understood I’d backed myself into a corner regarding some late-game choices. Figuring out a gondola was proving needlessly difficult and I had been having difficulty maintaining my team’s assigned work areas organized.
So I started over, and I’ll say this: I am disappointed, insofar as the”Franchise” name is a bit misleading. Planet Zoo places it like you’re a zoo tycoon, a global enterprise that manages parks on each continent. Only your”Trade Center” is shared however a 30-slot storage bank that houses creatures you have not put to a park nonetheless.
The trendy creatures, in other words.
Money is handled on a per-park basis, however, as is–and this is what I found most disappointing–research. Even if you’ve unlocked all of the themes, all of the habitat enrichments, everything in one park, even once you proceed to the next you begin from scratch. Older and wiser, with much more of an idea what’s coming, but you still will need to devote hours and hours to reacquire the same tools you had access to before.
It’s strangely prohibitive, and deters me by beginning new parks. That sounds counter to Franchise Mode’s goals, as I get the impression I am supposed to possess a multitude of unique installations around the world. All the Career Mode example zoos are compact and tightly themed, make it a panda rescue or a safari park or some Victorian Era throwback. But due to the way research works in Franchise Mode, constructing one of these tightly-themed parks would need ripping everything down you constructed early on to receive the zoo began, then constructing on the rubble.
The present implementation is bizarre, and undercuts what ought to be one of Planet Zoo’s best thoughts.
However, I’m having a great time sidestepping the issue by building a massive zoo with everything in it. Like Planet Coaster before, Planet Zoo is best construction kit. It’s for people that wish to put every trash can and every tree and every stone, who want to spend some time beautifying a reptile home or perhaps only a toilet.
Or in Planet Zoo, for people that want to lay out a tough grizzly bear pen complete with a mountain, a faux-cave, along with a waterfall. That is the hook for me , the interplay between designing a excellent display for guests along with a wonderful habitat for the creatures. I have spent hours on a single enclosure, attempting to establish better sightlines, sculpting hills and rivers so the animals are herded towards the glass and also the waiting guests, placing rocks and foliage to mask the zookeepers who assist stagehand this elaborate play.
It’s a treat to sit back and watch this clockwork zoo operate as well. Planet Zoo puts a great deal of accent –as it must –on the creatures and making them look realistic. It does not necessarily work out, and at times you find a wolf swimming set up eternally or any such. But other times it is surprisingly endearing. I am likewise fond of giraffes and their affinity for individuals, the way that they crane their necks up towards crowds on an elevated walkway.
Are there any annoyances? Absolutely. Planet Zoo may use a few interface passes, as it takes far too many clicks to (for example ) figure out exactly what continent and biome a creature is out of, then filter the”Nature” tab so that it only shows plants from said continent and biome, then place the plants, then double-check which you have placed sufficient foliage to fulfill the creature, and so forth.
The pathing process remains every bit as awkward as it was in Earth , particularly once you want to do anything extravagant just like tunnel under a river. In addition, I find it frustrating there’s no universal grid you can toggle off and on. Running a habitat parallel into a path is an issue of eyeballing it and eventually saying”Well, close enough,” which is less than ideal. Oh, and Franchise Mode is perpetually online, that is fine except if Frontier’s servers boot me from my zoo for no reason.
Planet Zoo is not perfect.
It doesn’t really matter though. Truth is, I keep coming backagain. Franchise Mode kicks me to the main menu? Sigh. Load back in. My habitat walls maintain melting into dust after just a year or two? Rebuild them. Rain slows my frame rate to a crawl? My keepers overlook how to feed the animals and you starves to death? Purchase a replacement.
And no matter what, keep building.
For all its problems–and there are many–Planet Zoo is one of the most gratifying builders I’ve ever played. Maybe not on the management side, and this is still a thin and readily manipulated veneer. If you’re looking for a”hard” builder, Planet Zoo ai not it.
I’m here to build my fantasy zoo though, and for that there’s no better choice. There’s a whole lot here.
And that’s before the community’s had considerable time together with the toolset, and before Frontier’s put out any post-release content. This weekend I flew open Planet Coaster too, curious what three decades of expansions and Steam Workshop support had wrought. Turns out, a great deal. Planet Coaster was already excellent at release, but an whole game’s worth of content has been built atop it in the ensuing years.
Assuming Planet Zoo includes a similarly abundant future ahead of it? I can’t wait.
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