This week at Gamescom, Frontier Developments (Elite: Dangerous, Planet Coaster) announced Jurassic World: Evolution, a park builder/management sim that puts the player in charge of running their own Jurassic World.
As somebody who can credit their early-age academic downfalls to Blue Tongue Entertainment’s Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, this was welcome news. Fun fact: I was so excited my literal hunger was satiated for four hours. So, without further ado, here are five things that would be fantastic in Jurassic World: Evolution.
1. Realistic Environments/Terraforming
We are all (and if you’re not, shame) familiar with the habitat that has encompassed both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World – beautiful, sprawling, lush tropics. Indeed, the franchise’s Isla Nublar is a remarkable sight, and that’s something Operation Genesis did not nail. Granted, that was a game released in 2003 and at the time its visuals were more than competent, but having a couple trees does not a jungle make. Imagine skimming over your paradise, watching Velociraptors tread through tall grass, a Brachiosaurus forage from a tree, and a herd of herbivores playing around a river shore. It’s the ultimate fantasy, and immersion is key here.
Of course, what fun is a tropical oasis if you can’t make it YOUR tropical oasis? Terraforming can add a personal, creative touch to any park, and it is fully expected to be on display in Evolution.
2. First-Person View
You did it. You built the greatest theme park in the history of the world. You have shown wonders like nothing else, and created a virtual experience you’re proud of.
A bird’s-eye view doesn’t do that justice, does it? Strolling through your state-of-the-art dinosaur menagerie as any ol’ person should be a must for Evolution. Blue Fang Studios’ Zoo Tycoon 2 is an excellent example of this – you could walk around your park, interact with it, and even perform some tedious management (emptying trash bins isn’t fun, but you know you want to empty your Jurassic World trash bins). Being able to jump right into our parks would give us a sense of scale for our creations, and thus an even greater appreciation for them. Or at least it’ll give some thrill when you inevitably delete a fence and watch your carnivores treat your guests as a buffet.
I would also like a personal gyrosphere to use at my whim, but I can’t ask for the world.
If there is one thing Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis was lacking, it was buildings. You were given one food kiosk, one souvenir stand, one washroom, one path style, and so on and so forth. The lack of variety made it hard for your Jurassic Park to stand out, and every park you built would eventually become monotonous. Frontier has proven they know a thing or two about unique parks (see: Planet Coaster), and nothing is more unique than a dinosaur theme park. Jurassic World: Evolution needs to take that to heart, and offer us the opportunity to let our minds go wild. Resort facilities, staff offices, attractions, retail, the list is endless.
Oh, and huge bonus points if there are buildings in the style of the original Jurassic Park (straw roofs still have a fan in me).
4. Advanced AI/Management
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Operation Genesis was its dinosaur AI – it utilized multiple systems, including the neural net perception system, to allow your park’s attractions to “learn” (e.g., a dinosaur will assess new things as threats, friends, or a possible meal) and respond to different circumstances. It was, and still is, a compelling element that allowed you to sit like a loser and watch your dinosaurs do their thing for long stretches of time. Fourteen years later, the hope is that Frontier will be able to expand on that potential with the latest technology can offer.
While Operation Genesis boasted stellar dinosaur AI, its visitor AI was… not stellar. Eventually, your park would reach a state where every visitor had to use the restroom, but they could only summon the ingenuity to use a single one in your whole goddamn park. Lo and behold, you were pestered with messages that your visitors hated everything about you and your mom. That isn’t fun. That makes me release dinosaurs to attack people. It makes me a bad person. Visitor AI is usually the bane of a park sim’s existence, and Evolution can break some new ground in that regard.
With that, I like to think a park sim is only as fun as your ability to run it, so I’m hoping Evolution offers us good management mechanics. Running a dinosaur zoo/theme park lends itself to plenty of unique challenges and situations – do your hotels have decent views of a valley filled with sauropods? Are children too afraid of your attractions? Do you have evacuation areas if your T. rex decides it wants to be difficult? The ability to manage your park in-depth, and have your decisions affect its operations, would be a test of skill and give us the chance to “attach” to our parks.
5. Steam Workshop
Mods are a fact of life these days, and they can completely revitalize a game. The modding community for Operation Genesis has tried, for the better part of a decade, to add to the game and enhance it for the changing times. Unfortunately, Operation Genesis was full of limitations, and the dream of creating a modern-day Jurassic Park simply wasn’t feasible with its engine. Being able to plug-and-play new dinosaur skins, buildings, and even gameplay mechanics would keep Jurassic World: Evolution alive and well for years to come, making Steam Workshop a match made in heaven.
Jurassic World: Evolution arrives on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in summer 2018 (coinciding with the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, or Jurassic Park V if you’re a purist). Here is Frontier’s press release for the game:
“Jurassic World: Evolution evolves players’ relationship with the Jurassic World film franchise, placing them in control of operations on the legendary island of Isla Nublar and the surrounding islands of the Muertes Archipelago. Players will build their own Jurassic World as they bioengineer new dinosaur breeds and construct attractions, containment and research facilities. Every choice leads to a different path and spectacular challenges arise when ‘life finds a way.’”
What would you like to see to make your perfect Jurassic World? Sound off in the comments below, and be sure to stay tuned for future updates!