Screenshot of Planet Coaster Cover Image

What is Planet Coaster?

Planet Coaster was produced by Frontier Developments and published by Microsoft Windows in November 2016. It belongs to a unique genre, dwelling on the construction and management of video parts. The simulated reality will appeal to those who have played Sims, but also to the fans of Roller Coaster Tycoon. This is the video game from which this new title is inspired and it invites players to explore the great outdoors as they shape the land.

Key facts about Planet Coaster

  • Planet Coaster uses versatile construction tools that can be used effectively by beginners.
  • The game has developed a cult following and has a strong community on Steam Workshop.
  • Planet Coaster doesn’t have a classic single player, but features several career mode scenarios.
  • Outside career mode, the management features are reduced to an afterthought, which is a minus.
  • Planet Coaster radiates optimism and has the uncanny ability of lifting up spirits.

Gameplay of Planet Coaster

The game is built on the same core mechanics as Roller Coaster Tycoon. This was its predecessor developed by the same company, with the follow-up introducing new features. The entire gameplay of Planet Coaster is centered on the construction and the management of theme parks. These include everything from roller coasters to smaller rides and various attractions aimed that keeping visitors happy.

Depending on the type of challenge that players are seeking, they can sign up for one of the three game modes. There are significant differences between the gameplay of Planet Coaster if you choose the career, challenge or sandbox modes. Beginners are advised to start their gaming experience in the sandbox environment. Just as the name suggests, this is where players can experiment a little bit with various features. The theme park is built from scratch on a plot of empty land on low difficulty.

The challenge mode will give players a run for their money, pun intended. They actually follow the same path as if they were experimenting in the sandbox, but with limited resources. The career mode is somewhere in between, with players being given smaller tasks. Instead of constructing huge roller coasters and managing the entire theme park, they are only supposed to complete unfinished tasks. Everything from the hiring of janitors to the construction of minor attractions is featured in this mode.

Last but definitely not least, the game has a mode for those who want to send things crashing down. Criticized by some as too brutal, the “crash mode” does exactly what the name says it does. Players are given the option of creating incomplete roller coasters and allow them to crash into the crowd.

Screenshot of Planet Coaster Merry Christmas

Plot of Planet Coaster

The Planet Coaster plot is actually the story of an amusement park manager who tried to make the most of the resources he is given. The single player campaign serves as an extended tutorial during which players learn the core game mechanics and experiment a little bit. Having said this, the career mode is more than an afterthought and incorporates most of the core features. The prospect of building an entire amusement park from scratch can be a daunting task for those who know little about the game.

In the absence of a proper tutorial, players are advised to begin their adventure in the sandbox environment. They can experiment here for as long as they want without worrying too much about what happens if they run out of resources. The game has no checkpoints, but players can save their progress and returns to certain points. This means that even if you fail miserably at first, you will be given another shot. Planet Coaster is an open game with multiple endings limited only by the imagination of players.

Development of Planet Coaster

Planet Coaster development began sometime after the guys at Frontier Developments released their major hit RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. The entire series of video games was much appreciated by a broad audience, including players and critics. The new release was not supposed to be a sequel, but a standalone product. Several themes were contemplated and in 2015 developers settled for the Theme Park idea. Only some of the concepts that worked wonders for the previous release were imported and new ones were promoted.

The broad audience found out about the new game in late January 2015. The game was supposed to go by the name of Coaster Park Tycoon by the title was changed shortly after. To incorporate all the new concepts and deliver a better gaming experience, developers had to rely on the Cobra Engine. This was developed in-house, so it belongs to the category of proprietary software and is still being upgraded.

Screenshot of Planet Coaster Loony Bloons

The alpha build was released in 2016 and many of the advertised features were present. These included the voxel terrain editor, modular structure building and other innovative features. The terrain tools were the ones that ramped up the enthusiasm and convince players that it’s worth pre-ordering them. Planet Coaster was intended for international release on November 17, 2016. Despite making several changes to the core game mechanics, developers managed to meet the deadline.

Where can I download Planet Coaster?

In the wake of the release of trailers and screenshots, developers encouraged the fans to preorder the game. On the official website, they were able to acquire the Thrillseeker Edition. This granted them access to the early version of the game and the possibility to test it throughout October, before the game officially hit the stores. The Frontier Developments website is still the place where fans can purchase the game right now.

The similarities with its predecessor explain why many of those who ordered the game also bought RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. The Sims belongs to a slightly different genre, but is still worth considering by those who seek something new. Other types of city building games are available online, with Sid Meier’s Civilization VI at the top of the list. Those who want mobile friendly games that are less complicated won’t be disappointed with King’s Empire, Clash of Kings, Clash of Clans and Battle of Gods.

What are others saying about Planet Coaster?

Planet Coaster reviews were written mostly by people who have played the RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. It comes as no surprise that they were genuinely impressed with the quality of the game and regard it as a significant improvement. The new features added were celebrated by the hardcore fans, who realized the major steps forward made by Frontier Developments.

Screenshot of Planet Coaster Winter Madness

The creation of buildings, by using the tools available is fun and the learning curve not as steep as one might think. It helps a lot that players have the option of testing their skills, but also to learn the ropes in the sandbox environment. The career mode was the one that got most of the praise, as it represents the backbone of Planet Coaster. Criticism was mostly directed at the menus which are pretty difficult to navigate and the fuel management features outside challenge mode.

Both during the beta testing and after the official release, players were impressed with the finesse of this simulator. Even those who regarded the career mode as a bit boring, admitted that most of the challenges are quite entertaining. All those who wrote reviews highlighted the fact that the game has good vibes and also emanates enthusiasm and optimism. The original score was replaced shortly after the release, but the game still got high marks for its soundtrack.

My rating of Planet Coaster

Personally I’m terrified by roller coasters and I need a lot of convincing to get in one of them. My experience in the virtual world of Planet Coaster however was a much smoother ride. I like the idea of building things from scratch and theme parks have always fascinated me. I enjoy the fact that it grants players virtually unlimited freedom to create whatever contraptions they like. At the same time, it keeps things realistic by only granting access to limited resources, so spend carefully.

You can literally create whatever you like in this small amusement park of yours, so replayability is ensured. I spent most of the time in the career mode, but also had some fun with the challenges. Even the “crash mode” was amusing and this comes from someone who is terrified by the prospect of riding a roller coaster. Planet Coaster has the potential of literally keeping you at the edge of your seat. It’s a good choice for anyone who wants to take a break from first-person shooters, but also real-time strategy games and MOBA. In terms of sheer numbers, a review score of 8/10 should reflect its quality.