Game Reviews

Planet Coaster – A 400 Hour Perspective

I’m sitting at my desk, a warm drink to my left, a notepad by my keyboard and a head full of Planet Coaster sandbox ideas. I’ve played planet coaster for over 400 hours now, 419.2 to be exact and still have dozens of new ideas. In this Planet Coaster perspective, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the sandbox. It’s worth noting that this isn’t a standard review; at 400 hours played, I think it’s clear that I’ve enjoyed this game.

A look at my Ghostbusters dark ride

My Perfect Game

love theme parks, the detailed theming, the atmosphere, the technology and of course the rides. Planet Coaster is clearly a game designed for theme park lovers by theme park lovers. The sandbox offers an expanse of coasters, flat rides, track rides, scenery and building pieces. Whilst the game does feature several DLC packs which I have bought, there is enough content included in the base game. What you do with these tools is entirely up to you. I’ve created full sized-theme parks, small shops, roller coasters, dark rides and even an action coaster: an action-packed rollercoaster that takes you through a story.

Time Turners Target Ride

A Rollercoaster Year

In a year of such uncertainty, Planet Coaster has been a stable source of entertainment. Throughout lockdown, I would often have YouTube on my left monitor and Planet Coaster on my primary one. I spent hours working on all kinds of projects. Currently, I’m working on a ‘launched motorbike’ rollercoaster: a family ride where riders queue up in a classic-style cinema. Riders take part in their own action movie which just so happens to also take place in the car park.

There is fine control of rollercoaster layout’s, allowing precise adjustments in areas such as track length, launch speeds, inversions and even banking. This intricacy in customisation means that every rollercoaster feels suitably unique and handcrafted. What’s more, once you’ve designed the rollercoaster of your dreams, you’re able to ride it from a multitude of perspectives. If it passes the required g-force checks and the vehicle can leave and return to the station then your guests can have the ride of their lives.

It’s high moon

Budgets? Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Budgets!

Planet Coaster features a campaign mode, the classic roller coaster tycoon sort. You’ll have a limited budget and must reach goals and keep your funds afloat. In my 400 hours of Planet Coaster, I’ve probably played about an hour of this mode and decided it wasn’t for me. Personally, the fun of Planet Coaster comes with the multitude of options. I did not like being restrained by limited expenditure. In my favourite style of gameplay, like the name of the mode, there is a sandbox of rides and pieces on offer. I like to design my rides with details that I am pleased with. Not what generates the most in-game money.

TEMPLE ‘s showbuilding

Admire The View

In addition to making wild rollercoasters, there is an array of options to create sit-down dark rides. These include target shooters (Think Buzz Lightyear at the Disney parks) and boat rides (once again, think back to Disney with Pirates of the Caribbean). With fine-tuning of the ride’s speed and vehicle’s orientation thanks to adjustments in pitch and yaw, creating these types of rides has been a breeze. There are literally hundreds of different scenery pieces from themes such as sci-fi and western. In most creations, I end up mixing pieces as they present a strong versatility. Like mentioned before, I’m a big fan of theme parks outside of the game so my rides often feature backstage areas, scaffolding and a generally realistic tone.

My rides usually take place in show buildings. Take my ride ‘TEMPLE’ for example. Whilst from the guests’ perspective the ride takes place in a plane-crashed temple, in reality, guests are in a warehouse which in the theme park industry, is referred to as a show building. Next time you are in a theme park, look through the tree line. You might spot the obscured warehouse behind the impressive entrance. Planet Coaster allows this precise customisation.

This ride is called Fall. Guess what season it’s inspired by?

Bring It Together

Finally, coasters, dark rides, walkthroughs and shops can all come together in a complete theme park experience. If customising each and every building, coaster or ride doesn’t sound appealing then Planet Coaster uses blueprints with creations made by Frontier and other Planet Coaster players thanks to steam workshop support. This workshop support is great at allowing new (and old) players to experience and be inspired by other people’s parks, rides and detail. Even after four years, I’m continually impressed.

For theme park and sandbox fans, the sheer customisation and detail presented in Planet Coaster’s sandbox offer an astounding gaming experience.

5 Comments

  1. Thanks for the retrospective. I wanted to live planet coaster so much – same with planet zoo. I think they’re more builders’ games though and lacked on the simulation aspect for me. They just didn’t hit the same chord that left me playing dozens of hours of Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon as a kid. Someone recommended Parkitect and Parkasaurus to me and they hit it with me more for some reason lol.

    I can definitely see the appeal though! The building tools Planet Coaster gives you are insane in a good way!

    1. I can understand your comment. Parkitect is a really good game as well.
      But I recommend Planet Coaster which is visually excellent.
      An advantage for Parkitect: it probably works very well with small configurations.

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