Planet Zoo is a building management game made by Frontier Developments. The game is a tycoon of sorts, in which you build a zoo and fill it with very realistic-looking animals. You can either follow a storyline with the campaign mode, build zoos all around the world with franchise mode, build a zoo with certain guidelines in challenge mode, or let your imagination run wild in sandbox mode.
Planet Zoo is not like other tycoon games. Previous zoo tycoon games have had the same thing. Animals, pre-made buildings, foliage, enrichment items, paths, and terrain tools. Planet zoo does indeed have all of these, but they have something extra. They have a piece-by-piece building system, allowing some people to make truly amazing creations. Another thing that Planet Zoo does better than most is animal behaviours. Animals will get stressed, bored, and many other things based on the scenario, and it really makes gameplay 10x more special.
If you could not tell already, Planet Zoo is the successor to the original Zoo Tycoon series. It has taken some inspiration from the original games, with similar mechanics and tools, while staying unique and fresh. Frontier had even made a Zoo Tycoon game about 6 years prior to Planet Zoo, which did not do very well. This was in large part due to the lack of creativity allowed when it came to enclosure creation and customisation. Realising this, and taking assets from Planet Coaster, they made Planet Zoo.
As mentioned previously, Planet Zoo has four game modes: Campaign, Franchise, Challenge, and lastly, Sandbox.
Campaign mode is what you would expect. There is a story, with different zoos you must either make or fix to gain stars and progress in the story. You have limited funds and limited access to tools in this game mode. Next up is Franchise. Franchise mode has you creating multiple zoos around the planet under the name of a single Franchise, allowing you to ship animals between zoos and trade with other franchises. You have limited funds; however, you also have a new currency: Conservation Credits. Conservation Credits are used to buy animals off the market. The better the animal’s genes and rating, the more expensive it is.
Now we have Challenge mode. Challenge mode replaces the financial challenges from Campaign and Franchise mode with zoo challenges. This mode yet again grants you limited funds, but it also grants you full access to everything. Finally, we have Sandbox. Sandbox mode is one of the most popular game modes, and for good reason. You are given unlimited funds and CC’s to go crazy with. Add on fully completed research and complete creativity and access and you got yourself an amazing experience.
On top of having a lot of variety in terms of gamemodes and creativity, Planet Zoo has a wide range of DLC packs that have a ton of new content. The DLC packs are, but are not limited to, Australian Pack, Africa Pack, and the Arctic Pack. Every DLC in total adds over 1000 new building and scenery pieces, over 30 new animal species, new campaign missions, and a completely new map and biome.
In the end of the day, Planet Zoo is a great successor to the original Zoo Tycoon series. It managed to take everything that made the original games special and adds so much more to it. It is a well-needed upgrade and revival of this series, which gave so many memories to millennials and other interested people. The graphics, realistic management, and animal behaviours, as well as the huge amount of creativity really make the game shine. While the price of the game is big, the experience you will have on it is even better.