Frontier Developments, creators of Planet Coaster and Zoo Tycoon, have released their next possible hit. Planet Zoo has raised high expectations amongst a lot of gamers, so naturally, we had to check out what the fuzz was about. Planet Zoo is a zoo sim where you build a world for wildlife. Honestly, let’s just dive into this one because I’m sure that’s what you came here for.
What we liked!
- The animals are realistic: Right now, there are about 70 animals in the game. They all look really lifelike, which is simply amazing. My expectations for the graphics were high after seeing the teasers and trailers. I dare say these expectations have certainly been met! Not only do the animals resemble real life, so do their actions. For example, it started raining and my apes immediately started looking for shelter. Details like this contribute to the gameplay and make this game even greater!
- Multiple modes: There is a total of four different modes. I suggest you start by playing the Career mode. This is narrative-driven and explains the game a little. It includes twelve challenges, each creating different scenarios. If you want to look after multiple zoos, you’ll love the Franchise mode. Here you build connected zoos. This mode requires online playing since you’ll be trading with other players worldwide. Not really into an online community? No problem, try the Challenge mode! Try and complete the goals that are being set in an offline setting. The last mode is the Sandbox. If you want to focus on the creative part of the game and less on the business side, this is where you need to be! No money restrictions, you get access to all animals and resources and every research task is completed. As you can see, there’s something for everyone here and that’s where the beauty in this game lies. Online or offline, business or creativity, just try whatever the hell you want and see what suits you best.
- Rewarding experience: A lot of time and patience is required for this game but seeing the results of your decisions is quite satisfying. As the developers themselves mention, the in-game world is focused on animal welfare and conservation. The choices you make will have different impacts and those really show.
- You also learn stuff: The developers did a lot of research before developing this game. You learn about the animals and you’re also made aware of endangered species. I found this to be a very important part of the game, probably because I’m into animals so much. Planet Zoo offers a Zoopedia with information on all the animals the game has. It’s definitely worth taking a look at!
- Very busy game: You have to monitor your zoo constantly. There is so much that can go work, wow. You have to keep your animals healthy, happy and they have to be fed in time. Their habitats have to be cleaned as well and their welfare is most important. There’s also the visitors, workers, etc. that you have to keep in mind. Everything can get overwhelming and frustrating at times, not making this game for everyone. However, I’m not putting this in the section below because this also keeps you on your toes and can keep you sucked into the game for hours and hours.
- Graphics again: Okay so the animals look so damn great (the babies look adorable, holy shit), so I guess less time was put into creating the people in this game. Compared to the rest of the game, the people are disappointing. It could be something that doesn’t bother you because you’ll spend most of your time looking at the adorable animals, but once you take a closer look at the visitors, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
What we disliked
- Glitches: Unfortunately, Planet Zoo still has some glitches and bugs it needs to deal with. Like, you get these warnings saying an animal needs attention, food, or work that has to be done on its habitat. Of course, you send someone over there right away! A little while later, I got the same notification but worse, like ‘your animal is dying’. So, yeah, that is quite a big bug, since you can lose animals thanks to this. This is the glitch I encountered the most but there are others as well. So, be aware of possible bugs when playing.
In conclusion, Planet Zoo is a beautiful game in which clearly a lot of work has been put. You can spend lots of time just admiring the animals and their movements without feeling bored. The various game modes offer something for every kind of player and the educational part is a very interesting addition to the game. I do hope the devs quickly fix the bugs, because no one likes paying 45 Euros for a game with bugs. Besides the small bugs, I highly recommend this game!
Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂