Elite Dangerous developer Frontier announces 'Planet Zoo,' a modern take on the Zoo management genre
Will it be a true spiritual successor to Zoo Tycoon?By Cohen Coberly
In context: Game developer Frontier's entire business seems to focus on recreating the nostalgic gaming experiences of our youth - with the likes of Jurassic World Evolution and Planet Coaster, the studio has revitalized the park management genre, proving that the formulas behind games like Zoo Tycoon and Roller Coaster Tycoon can still hold up in the modern world.
Unfortunately for fans of the former franchise, Zoo Tycoon has never received a true spiritual successor or sequel. The previously-mentioned Jurassic World Evolution comes closest, but at the end of the day, you're still managing a park filled with creatures that no longer exist, pushing the title firmly into the realm of fantasy. For those who want a more grounded and realistic experience, options have been limited.
Fortunately, that will be changing soon. Frontier is officially working on Planet Zoo, it's own take on the classic Zoo management genre. Animal happiness and welfare will be at the forefront of the game's experience, so players will be building comfortable exhibits tailored to each animal's needs during gameplay. A penguin isn't going to be particularly happy in a Savannah-themed exhibit, for example, but a lion will be right at home.
In true Frontier fashion, expect plenty of details to be present in Planet Zoo. Animals will think for themselves, feel emotions, and interact with their environment in ways they never have in previous Zoo management games. They're no longer static money-generating attractions, but "authentic," believable creatures in their own right.
Graphically speaking, Planet Zoo's animals look fairly realistic, but the game's human NPCs take a page out of Planet Coaster's book with stylized, cartoony aesthetics. Whether or not that mash-up will work from a visual perspective remains to be seen, but given Frontier's excellent track record, it's probably safe to give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
Beyond vague marketing statements, we don't know much about Planet Zoo's nitty-gritty gameplay details, its price, or release date. However, you can Wishlist the game on Steam and sign up for the title's mailing list to keep track of its development.