Planet Coaster Beta

So the Beta for Planet Coaster has been up and running for a couple of days now, and I had a chance to sit down and have a good mess around with it yesterday. While there are plenty of new features and content that I really like, there are still things that I think could be improved upon in time for general release next Thursday 17th November, so I thought I’d share all this with you today.

First off, loading and playing the Beta is an interesting experience for anyone who’s already played the Alpha because it initially almost feels like you’re starting all over again, creating and positioning your Avatar on the globe and whatnot. But then all your saved parks are still there ready to be accessed, which is nice because now you can build on them incorporating some of the new content that has been introduced and will continue to be introduced as we go along.

In terms of the new content itself, it’s an interesting mix of stuff. There’s a whole bunch of new roller coasters, including wooden and hybrid coasters for the first time, four new flat rides, 2 track rides, 2 transport rides and a log flume, a whole bunch of new shops, and 2 new scenery themes: Western and Sci-Fi. There’s also a couple of new entertainers, and I personally love how cute Foxy is – I reckon she’s my new favourite. Mechanics have also been introduced; your rides can now break down, but they can also be inspected and refurbished, which is an interesting concept that I look forward to trying over the course of a longer game.

You now have tons more options in terms of running and customising your park, too. Finally, we get the chance to name things, and indeed Frontier have gone a little overboard with this as not only can you name your park, rides, shops, buildings, guests and staff, but you can also rename individual things like little pieces of scenery. This is actually quite helpful on occasion because another new feature is triggered scenery, meaning certain scenery objects (such as animatronics and special effects) can be set to only activate when triggered by a roller coaster reaching a certain point. Personally I would like to see greater variety in the triggers, such as guests passing a certain point in the pathway, for example, or flat rides reaching a certain point in their ride cycle.

Speaking of ride cycles, these are now fully customisable for flat rides, which is an awesome feature that is great fun to play around with. You can also now change the music of rides and use not only the broad and interesting spectrum that is included in game, but also your own music – and yes, this can be triggered using speakers so you can add drama and/or sound effects to your rides and coasters. Other customisation features include the price of pretty much everything, work rosters (which tell your staff which areas to prioritise and work similarly to patrol areas in previous theme park sims), opening and closing times and the capacity of your park. And one thing which is particularly helpful in my opinion is the ability to lock the lighting to how it would be at a specific time of day, which is useful because you can build stuff in the daytime and then switch to night easily to see where you need to place lights.

This all sounds very good so far, and by and large it is. There are, however, a couple of things I’ve found with the Beta so far which I wasn’t so keen on. I don’t think the challenge and career modes are restrictive enough in the beginning in terms of what you can access; you still have a pretty broad spectrum of rides and shops, and coupled with the enormous areas of land and randomised objectives in challenge mode I found this left me a bit overwhelmed and flummoxed as to where to start. I also think there should be a lot more flat rides than there currently are, and one thing that would be great would be slightly altered designs for the existing ones so that they fit in with a variety of different themes – the themes that are in the game, for example. This is also true of the powered track rides: I would like to at least see a generic ride car so I don’t have to make every dark ride I make cat-themed, but further themeing options would also be greatly appreciated.

I still think the coaster and track ride builder is a little difficult to use as well. I was playing around with a log flume yesterday and found it impossible to get it to link back up to the station, as no matter what I tried I was always slightly too high, or slightly off to the side whenever I tried to get it to connect back to the station, which was frustrating. The height markers that have been introduced are way too spread out and don’t appear soon enough to be any use, and I’d also like to see an option to convert these into feet for those of us that still measure our coasters in imperial (though this could be hidden in the menu, I haven’t checked in all honesty). I don’t think it would hurt to add more features to some coasters and track rides, particularly the dark rides and log flumes which are basically just track at this point, making it very hard to make a modern dark or water ride. And of course, more themeing designs and options for coaster trains would be appreciated.

I don’t know how complete the Beta is at this point, and I know there are at least a few new things yet to be released in the full version, which as I previously mentioned comes out on 17th November. Interestingly enough, Atari have just announced the release date for the full version of RollerCoaster Tycoon World as 16th November, so they’re definitely going for competition here. It’ll be interesting when the full versions of both are available to see which version people prefer, and you can bet I’ll be posting my views on here. In the meantime, I haven’t given up on Planet Coaster and its Beta just yet, I’m just trying to decide where to take it from the position I’ve gotten to at the moment. Stay tuned for more.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your stay here at Along for the Ride.

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