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Hands-on: Planet Coaster Console Edition

19 Oct 2020

“Inspire and be inspired as you create, manage, and share the world’s greatest coaster parks with friends and content creators around the world.”

As a player who was indeed inspired by games such as RollerCoaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon, I’ve been keeping a curious eye on the revival of the franchise by Frontier Developments. When it comes to managing an iconic property that inspires a sense of fun and entertainment among players, there’s no better setting than that of an amusement park.

Initially released in 2016, Planet Coaster aims to offer an experience tapping into the nostalgia of players like myself while introducing newcomers to a polished, contemporary management simulator. While PC players have been constructing and sharing their parks for the past four years, those playing on consoles have been unable to join in on the fun. With the upcoming release of Planet Coaster Console Edition, players across all platforms, including next-gen consoles, will finally be able to realize the coaster parks of their dreams.

During my hands-on experience, I played the Xbox One version of the game using a PlayStation 4 controller. Fundamentally, the game features the same strengths as it did at release. The catchy music is memorable without being overpowering. Paired with the overall sound design, this gives the environment a rich sense of life. You’ll hear rides running, chatter from the crowds, the cha-ching of registers and sound effects unique to the various attractions. These details create an immersive and dynamic environment that changes depending on your perspective throughout the park.

The choice to zoom out for an eagle-eye view or get eye-level with your guests has always been a novel part of the series. Planet Coaster’s polished graphics and colorful world help realize this in more detail than ever thanks to modern PC and console capabilities.

Movement about the map feels intuitive using the controller, but the variety of menus, submenus, and available interactions for the wide array of objects you can place does prove to be clunky at times. Much of this is simply the nature of moving away from the finesse of mouse and keyboard controls.

Attraction menus have to be fully exited before another building can be selected. Pathways have defined lengths and can be imprecise to place at times. Altering an object’s axis, then switching to a different placement mode to finesse it, will reset the positioning you’ve already established. Regardless, none of these minor setbacks lessened my enjoyment as I quickly found myself immersed in the simulation games I used to love.

For a title that offers as much personalization and interaction with creating your ideal park as Planet Coaster does, the controls are ultimately manageable and mapped efficiently for controller use. Paired with a comprehensive settings menu that allows you to enable a colorblind mode, change measurement systems from metric to imperial, alter text size, and more, players can truly customize their experience.

Altogether, I enjoyed what I was able to play and found myself wanting to jump back in and work on new projects days after the demo. Planet Coaster offers a simulation experience for modern gamers that allows you to inspire, create, and imagine alongside others worldwide. Thanks to the the game arriving on consoles at last, this will be more true than ever before.

Planet Coaster: Console Edition and Planet Coaster: Deluxe Edition will be coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and PlayStation 4 on November 10. The game has a suggested retail price of $49.99 for the standard version, and $59.99 for the Deluxe Edition

Players who own a digital copy of the game on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One will be able to download the next-gen version for free when it’s available. Pre-orders of Planet Coaster: Console Edition or Planet Coaster: Deluxe Edition at participating retailers will receive a one-of-a-kind ride with their game.

Screenshots courtesy of Frontier Developments.