‘Planet Zoo’ – The Aquatic Pack & Update 1.4 Review!
If you’ve listened to any of the Geektown Radio podcast over the last few months, you’ll know I’ve been somewhat obsessively playing Frontier Developments wonderful sim management game ‘Planet Zoo‘. Yesterday, they added ‘The Aquatic Pack’ DLC, which introduces a bunch of new water-based animals, alongside Update 1.4, which adds some very cool new game mechanics, so I’ve been having a play with this new content.
Firstly, ‘The Aquatic Pack’ – This adds in King Penguins, Grey Seals, Giant Otters, Dwarf Caiman (small South American alligators), and a new exhibit-based animal, the Diamondback Terrapin. The animals are, as you would expect, as great and adorable (even the Dwarf Caiman) as we’ve come to expect from Planet Zoo.
If you want to dive straight in, there is a new timed campaign called “Red Barn River Zoo”, which gives you one hour to turn around a small, family-run zoo, and return the place to its former glory. It’s a great way to see what the new pack has to offer, without needing to build everything from scratch.
Speaking of building, the pack also comes with over 170 new scenery pieces, featuring signage to support the new animals, along with new props for wild jungles to build out your Otter and Caiman habitats, and some icy tundra elements to create wonderful wintery landscapes for your seals and penguins.
In addition to ‘The Aquatic Pack’ DLC, the game also added a major update to the core game for free with the 1.4 patch. This also adds a stack of new building elements, things to support the water mechanics for the new and existing animals, and some major new features, including a new staff type – The Educator!
Educators are something which had long been requested by the community. These are the guys who stand in front of the habitats and give talks about your animals to educate your visitors. The in-game guide doesn’t do a great job of explaining how to set them up, but all you have to do is set down a new “Animal Talk Point” object, and hire some Educator staff members. Once that’s done, you can pick a month for the talk to begin, and crowds will gather to learn more about your animals. The Educator will arrive and perform a little show, even throwing out food to some of the animals during the talk! As ever, it’s beautifully animated and adds another new layer to the gameplay.
Along with the new staff, the 1.4 Update is packed with a set of new construction bits and pieces to support the new aquatic content, but also can be added to existing water-based animals. These include a Water Temperature Regulator, which works somewhat like the Water Treatment, but rather than cleaning, regulates the temperate of the water for your aquatic friends. There are new underwater feeders, which currently works with the new ‘Aquatic Pack’ animals and the Saltwater Crocodile from the base game.
As someone who loves to build in Planet Zoo, I was so happy to see them add new construction elements to the game, and one of the things that I was overjoyed to see in this update was a new set of fonts! Previously, we had been restricted to one chunky 3D font type in either small or large sizes, or downloading some impressive (but fiddly) custom fonts made by players from in-game objects via the Steam Workshop. Now they have added a new 3D letters font, alongside some lovely slim 2D letter font, giving you a lot more options with the base game building. There is also a stack of new decal decorations to pretty up your zoo, a couple of new path options, and some new plant-types to play with.
If all that wasn’t enough, the 1.4 Update adds some great “quality of life” changes to the game management. The most useful one is the option to multi-select your animals when you’re moving animals from storage to their habitats. Previously you had to select them one-by-one, which was a pain. Now you can select a bunch together from the menu, and move then all in one go. It might be a minor change, but one that is massively appreciated!
They have also added some new management screens, not only for the new Educators but also for existing Transport rides, allowing you to get more details about how your rides are performing. This lets you get a better overview of what rides are popular and profitable, along with being able to tweak things like the number of cars and prices, all from one place.
Overall, if you’re a fan of business sim games and/or building games, ‘Planet Zoo’ continues to be one of the best on the market. At £.799 for the ‘Aquatic Pack’ DLC, it’s well worth the money, and the free 1.4 Update adds in a stack of great new features and enhancements. If you’ve not yet joined the ‘Planet Zoo’ family, now is a great time to jump in!
‘Planet Zoo’ is available right now on Steam, along with all the all-new ‘Aquatic Pack’ DLC.
Dave has over 20 years experience in the digital industry, and is founder and editor of Geektown. Obviously a huge geek himself, he can often be found in front of the latest tv show or movie, on various video games, or with his head in a comic book.