Planet Zoo: 17 Minutes of Frontier's Next Managerial Sim

Featuring realistic poo physics.
Frontier has debuted 17 minutes of gameplay footage for Planet Zoo.
Frontier has debuted 17 minutes of gameplay footage for Planet Zoo. Frontier

In the midst of E3 last week, developer Frontier dropped gameplay footage for their next upcoming sim in the Planet series, Planet Zoo. Following the success of Planet Coaster, which features theme parks, Planet Zoo will feature, well, zoos, which are inhabited by a huge array of animals.

Check out the gameplay footage for Planet Zoo below, plus my early assessment of it.

One of the things that impressed me so much with this demo is the absolute level of detail provided to players. Planet Zoo, at its very core, is an in-depth management sim for aspiring zoo owners. The park shown in the demo is somewhat modeled after the Serengeti and partly on the famous Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania. The mindless NPCs from Planet Coaster are back as well, traveling in droves; in the Planet games, they’re a good indicator of how the park is doing, judging mostly by how thick or thin the crowds are.

The park in the gameplay demo is a safari experience, which means open expanses across different terrains and habitats. Right off the bat, we see a reticulated giraffe kicking some poo, which just shows how much detail there is in the game. The animals themselves are very good-looking and well-animated; Frontier has really nailed how each animal behaves and how they look like. You can see the giraffes doing that thing with their tongues when idling, as well as their animations for when they bow down to drink water. Shared habitats are a thing as well, with the giraffes sharing their space with the smaller springbucks, as both of them live in social groups, which is another big distinguishing feature for animals in Planet Zoo.

Each animal is also bred unique, getting genes from their parents to determine most of their traits. This will impact their needs and lifespans as well, which gives players more incentive to manage their zoos efficiently.

We also get a look at another mixed habitat composed of zebras and black wildebeest, which are both herding animals known for running around in packs. The demo shows off some other items vital to keeping the animals happy and healthy, including some scratching poles for the wildebeest. These items are called enrichment items, which play very well into the authentic zoo experience as animals tend to need more than just food and water when in captivity.

The demo then shows off some saltwater crocodiles, particularly one who isn’t very happy with his current terrain. To help alleviate that, you can use the existing terrain tools from Planet Coaster to find the perfect mixture of terrain which will help keep your animals happy. In this instance, the demo shows adding a bit of soil to the enclosure raises the crocodile’s mood.

The demo then shifts to staff hiring, which is another integral part of management sims like the Planet series. In another interesting upgrade from Planet Coaster, you can now view the interiors of various buildings, like the offices of various staff. You can see the staff members at work in their own little workspaces, which adds another layer of immersion to Planet Zoo on the whole.

Another neat and very useful innovation comes from staff paths, which is a pathing that can only be walked on by the zoo’s staff. It’s quite refreshing to see this coming from Planet Coaster, as pathing for that game can be a nightmare, even more so than the actual management of the amusement park itself; the inclusion of staff pathing for Planet Zoo allows you to cordon off some areas just for the zoo’s staff, and separate them from the zoo’s many visitors, which is amazing for added efficiency in running the wildlife sanctuary.

The gameplay demo also went in-depth with this new education need for the visitors of your zoo, another bar that you must satisfy in addition to their enjoyment. Zoos are not just for entertainment after all, but also for imparting knowledge about the animals that live in it. Check out the rest of the footage above to find out more about what was talked about in the demo, including some sneak peeks into new features that will be presented in Planet Zoo.

Planet Zoo is coming to PC on November 5, 2019 via Steam. You can pre-purchase the game here.

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