Frontier has revealed more details about its upcoming management sim, Planet Zoo, and has confirmed that the game will be released this year on November 5. The new content includes a first glimpse of the game’s management mechanics and, of course, a whole host of new animals.
Planet Zoo’s animal roster has doubled and Frontier has revealed a handful of wonderful beasties for the management sim in its most recent announcement. The animal list now has giraffes, cheetahs, african wild dogs, wildebeest, saltwater crocodiles, springbok, and chimpanzees. Joining our larger animal friends will be a bunch of smaller critters for the zoo’s glass houses, but the only ones confirmed so far have been spiders and iguanas. These new additions bring the total animal count into double digits. To check out the previously announced animals check out our interview with Frontier’s animator who describes how Planet Zoo’s animal animation tools are “too good for games”.
As all seeing-eye of the zoo, you will see your animals blossom and grow. You’ll be able to watch generations of animals and watch how a parents genetics can be seen in their offspring. Bay animals are genetically determined by their parents meaning that you’ll be able to see a family resemblance go through the family tree.
Just like in the wild, certain animals can be grouped together in one harmonious, co-existing habitat. A group of zebra can live happily alongside a herd of wildebeest and this can contribute to their enrichment and welfare stats, sharing the same habits makes them the perfect roomies.
Frontier has also gone into depth about certain managerial responsibilities when building animal habitats. The animals not only need to be looked after physically but also mentally. A great habitat means plenty of food, social interactions, specific terrain types, and enrichment objects to make sure they live a happy, healthy life.
Enrichment objects are things like scratching posts for the big cats and climbing frames for the chimpanzees. These objects also highlight Planet Zoo’s piece-by-piece building system as climbing frames can be constructed from anything, wooden poles, walls, roofs, anything that is climbable, bringing together two of Planet Zoo’s major mechanics together: building and managing.
The physical space of the habitat needs a lot of attention, in Planet Coaster terrain management was purely an aesthetic choice but in Planet Zoo it can genuinely impact your animals’ happiness and well-being. There are a number of sliders on your animals’ profiles that go up and down depending on their environment; making sure those sliders are all in the green is a priority for a great zoo. For the smaller animals, like the spiders and iguanas, they have their own glass houses that also need to be attended to. In these exhibit houses, you can manually change the temperature and humidity of the houses, helping your arachnid and reptilian friends happy.
To stop you frantically rushing around your zoo making sure all your animals are healthy and catered for are the keepers. They can cater to all the requirements of the animals and help keep the habitats in top condition. Once you hire a keeper they will move between habitats to see what the animals need and then go to the nearest keeper’s hut to gather supplies. To get the very best treatment for your animals you can conduct some research that will improve aspects in your zoo, one of them being the dietary requirements for your animals.
Keepers will also keep an eye on water replenishment and clean the habitat, by accessing the staff huts. But be careful, if guests see staff huts that break the illusion of the zoo for them so you have to strategically place the huts hear enclosures but also hide them from guests. To make things easier, Planet Zoo has introduced ‘staff only paths’ so you can hide away your staff buildings to stop guests get hot-headed.
Speaking of those pesky humans, Planet Zoo is also about managing the guests of your park. Guests also have needs that need to be fulfilled, and catering to guests is a whole separate managerial task for players building a great park. Animal habitats need to be in full view for the guests to have a fun time, there needs to be lots of food stands so they don’t get hungry, and plenty of bathrooms for when times get desperate.
A new need that guests have, compared with the ones in Planet Coaster, is that they now have an educational need. To this end, you can place signposts and information boards around your park to inform your guests of the animals. Education is a massive part of the game and we’ve already spoken with Planet Zoo’s director, Piers Jackson, about why educating the guests, and by extension, the player, is important to Frontier.
For guests who would like to experience the animals close up, Planet Zoo has introduced a jeep ride that takes guests through the habitats. The track the jeep follows is placed down by the player and the ride if fully customisable, from the colour of the vehicle to the price of rides. Frontier has also added this jeep feature to Jurassic World Evolutions new DLC.
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Frontier says that as we draw nearer to Planet Zoo’s release date November 5, they’ll release more info about Planet Zoo – more animals, more staff, and more management tools.