Frontier Developments has announced that they are working towards an Autumn release for brand new title Planet Zoo. The British studio dropped a cinematic trailer (see below) that has us here at GamEir salivating for more.
Frontier Developments has a fabulous pedigree when it comes to sim/management games, as well as crafting fun and believable wildlife. For instance, they’re the minds behind Rollercoaster Tycoon, Thrillville, and Planet Coaster, some of the most celebrated park-builders around. They also developed Kinectimals, the Xbox virtual pet game. As if that wasn’t enough, Frontier has experience with the Zoo Tycoon franchise, releasing the 2013 Xbox-exclusive reboot of the franchise.
We have known for some time that Frontier was working on a new game franchise. In their November 2018 interim financial report, they confirmed that “The development of Frontier’s fourth game franchise is on track”. The direction they have chosen – zoo design and management – shouldn’t come as a surprise. Take Planet Coaster‘s insane attention to detail, combine it with Jurassic World‘s focus on live animal attractions… Planet Zoo seems inevitable.
What Frontier plans for Planet Zoo
We have the following bold statements from Jonny Watts, Chief Creative Officer of Frontier;
“This is the zoo management game we’ve wanted to make for many years. We’ve challenged ourselves to build on the games we’ve made before and to carry the great legacy of classics like the Zoo Tycoon series forward. We’re taking everything we’ve learned from our past work and focusing on modern values – incredible authenticity, rich management, limitless creativity and community sharing – to make our best-ever simulation game. We hope you’ll join us when Planet Zoo launches later this year”
If Planet Zoo launches with half of the quality Watts is promising, it’s going to be a whopper.
Piers Jackson, Planet Zoo‘s game director, has made public a few of the priorities and focuses of the team. These include the following;
- Animal welfare, wellbeing, and conservation
- Terraforming (à la Planet Coaster)
- Deep park customisation
- Genetics and breeding
Jackson confirmed that a huge amount of research and expertise has gone into ensuring that the animals are the most realistic ever designed in a game. Frontier emphasises that every animal is an individual with complex needs and wants. A number of the team have backgrounds in biology. The dev team have liaised with real-life zoos to make the experience as immersive as possible. In addition, the animation department, Jackson claims, is the biggest area of the studio. They’re focusing on capturing every quirk of animal movement and behaviour.
What We Can Expect
Comparisons with the wildly successful (and nostalgic) Zoo Tycoon series are inevitable. Moreover, Watts acknowledges the importance of the series. Consequently, we can likely expect many of Zoo Tycoon’s most popular features to surface – in one way or another. Planet Coaster and Jurassic World, in addition, will likely provide some of the team’s playbook. Bearing these in mind, we can likely expect to see;
- Guest wants and needs, and facilities to fulfill those needs (like bathrooms, benches, and restaurants)
- Biome customisation
- Cash flow management
- Staff wellbeing
- First-person mode
- Story-based campaign missions
While Zoo Tycoon and its sequel both featured DLCs with extinct animals, sadly, this is unlikely. Including dinosaurs would be a conflict of interest with their most recent game, Jurassic World. In other words, no T-rexes eating your elephants any time soon.
What are you looking forward to in Planet Zoo? What features would you love to see? Let us know!
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