Frontier Developments‘s Planet Coaster: Console Edition is available November 10, 2020. Prior to its launch, we got the chance to get some hands-on time with this console port of beloved PC park management sim. Frontier’s first-ever next-gen title brings all the fun and thrills of the critically acclaimed PC original to console and was built from the ground up. What doe this mean? All the elements of Planet Coaster you know and love have been adapted for the console experience.
Planet Coaster: Console Edition features redesigned interfaces, a brand new radial menu, and a completely new control system – for better or worse. The game also promises to allow players to dive in for a casual session of the game’s open-ended sandbox mode where money is most definitely not an issue, putting park building and money-making skills to the test in challenge mode, or immersing themselves in the development of a thriving coaster park in the richly rewarding career mode.
The building elements of Planet Coaster: Console Edition features detailed piece-by-piece construction along with simple-to-use blueprints. This allows players to take creative control of their park as they respond to the needs of patrons and the content creators offering direct feedback. You’ll also have access to the Frontier Workshop where players can find incredible content at their fingertips to help personalize your park or upload your own creations for people around the world to enjoy. While we didn’t get a chance to play with this feature of the game, we did get to dive into building our rides, scenery, and facilities in the game’s tutorial.
To do this, we first had to clear areas of the park to make way for our new rides and scenery which allows you to interact with the building feature in nearly every aspect, selecting individual elements of the environment to demolish and or move. This is also where you get to see the full extent of differences between controls on a console controller versus the mouse and keyboard we’re used to.
Below are our first impressions of the Planet Coaster: Console Edition experience to help you make your decision on whether you should pre-order the game before its release on November 10th.
What were your favorite elements Planet Coaster: Console Edition?
Kate: While it may not be the first thing you think of when playing a park management sim, the writing in Planet Coaster: Console Edition is something that has to be noted, especially when coupled with the voice acting. A tutorial can sometimes feel dull given the necessary explanatory dialogue it needs to deliver. That said, this tutorial is injected with ample amounts of humor that don’t only work with jokes about the park and elements that use the mechanics to make jokes as well. This humor is worked in a way that it doesn’t overtake the instructions, offering a solid balance. This will help to keep you engaged throughout the campaign.
Additionally, this port of a PC game aimed to maintain all the complexities of the original game and it’s clear that while there is a learning curve to using the controls, all the pieces of Planet Coaster from the PC are present in the console edition. While there are slight implementation issues, which I’ll discuss later, maintaining every element of a PC port is hard and the attempt should be commended.
Matt: Frontier Developments over the years has made some of the most complex and detailed management games such as Planet Zoo and Jurassic World Evolution along with PC version of Planet Coaster however saying that I still love the amount of work that goes into the dialog and voice acting in these games. This also comes with just the general atmosphere of Planet Coaster as the game just makes you feel like you are making a wonderland. The console edition seems to be bringing everything from the PC version to console and that alone is a great thing. Planet Coaster is a great management game so making it for console will only allow more people to enjoy it.
What are some elements that can be improved?
Kate: Ultimately, because all of the detailed menus and options in park management have been brought to console, the navigation between each of them is difficult given the limitations of a controller. This is most recognizable when it comes to the more nuanced elements of the controls like choosing parkgoers to get details from, selecting multiple items of the park to move or demolish, and even laying paths. These elements work best with a mouse given how narrow the window for placement can be, and doesn’t translate well to controllers. That said, this element can be corrected by connecting a keyboard and mouse to your console.
Matt: The main elements that can be improved are the same issues with any console version of a sim game: the navigation of menus and placing items within your park. The ability to click with mouse, type number, click again just can’t be matched with a controller. I do think overall the menus are actually well done for use with a controller, however just more complicated than if ever played PC version. The element that will lead to more issues than navigating menus is the precision in placing items, I know I am a perfectionist when comes to placing items so the ability to finely place items is very important.
Would you recommend Planet Coaster: Console Edition?
Kate: While I don’t think PC sim players will get much if anything out of this console edition, this game serves as a good entry point into the gametype for console players. One of the reasons that I haven’t played an extensive amount of sim, park management or otherwise, is the limited availability on consoles. It’s this reason that ports that aim to maintain full features are welcome. So, if you’re new to sims this one is definitely work picking up, especially if console play is your only option.
Matt: I think if you own it on PC I am not sure it is worth getting the console edition. However, for those without a PC and only access to the game is through the console edition, I would recommend it. Unlike other sims I have played in console over the years Planet Coaster: Console Edition gives you all the content and options that are available in the PC version of the game. Frontier is clearly putting the time and effort into optimizing the game for the console version.
Overall, Planet Coaster: Console Edition on its first impressions offers up an ambitious port of a beloved park management sim. While PC gamers may feel like it’s lacking, those who only have access to the game via console will have a fun and authentic experience. We think Planet Coaster: Console Edition is going to be a great gateway for future sim players.
Planet Coaster: Deluxe Edition will be coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and PlayStation4 on November 10, 2020. PlayStation5 players can jump into the action from November 12 in the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, and November 19 in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.