‘Jurassic World Evolution 2’: First Impressions, New Gameplay Footage & Interview With Game Director Rich Newbold
A few weeks ago, I had a chance, not only to get my hands on the upcoming video game ‘Jurassic World Evolution 2’, the much-anticipated sequel to Frontier Developments highly successful ‘Jurassic World Evolution’, but also to chat with Game Director Rich Newbold about all the lovely new features!
‘Jurassic World Evolution 2’ is due to be released on the 9th November 2021 across PC, Xbox and Playstation, and features a huge array of tweaks and improvements to the original 2018 management simulation. I had around two hours of time to play around with the new systems and game modes, including a bit of the main story, and the wonderfully fun “Chaos Theory” mode. I have (according to my Steam stats) spent around 115hrs in the original game, so was very eager to get my hands on the sequel!
In the video above, you can see some of the gameplay from my playtest, along with an edited version of my interview with Game Director Rich Newbold. You can also find a longer version of that interview as a podcast here.
The new main narrative campaign follows on from the events of ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’. If you remember how the film ended, dinosaurs had been released to roam across the USA leading the world into a new neo-Jurassic Age, where humans and dinos have to coexist. This is where you come in. The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife has suddenly found itself with an entirely new set of animals to deal with, so have brought you in to help capture and contain the wild roaming dino population. You are not on your own though. You have help from some familiar faces from the films, including Dr. Ian Malcolm (voiced by Jeff Goldblum) and Claire Dearing (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard).
We were given access to the opening mission, which is designed to ease you into the mechanics of JWE2. If you’ve played the first game, most of them seem pretty familiar. It still feels very much like JWE, albeit with some tweaks and enhancements. Overall, the interface should feel very familiar to returning players, but things such as the pathing system, which was always a bit fiddly in JWE, feels smoother and not as frustrating. There are also changes to the staff buildings with the new Response Facility that combines the Rangers and Capture Teams. The Rangers can be assigned to check on your dinos via a new Ranger Post which you place inside the habitat. These allow you to see what is upsetting your leather-skinned pals, and also to restock the carnivore feeders. Another addition is the Mobile Veterinary Units which operate out of the Paleo Medical Facility to perform a medical scan and diagnose any injury or sickness.
Once we had gotten used to the systems, Frontier let us loose in “Chaos Theory” mode. This new set of missions are let you play through key moments of your favourite films, albeit remixed in a sort of ‘What If?…’ scenario. The map we were playing on was based on the “what if” idea that the plan to open Jurassic Park: San Diego had come to fruition, and you were now in charge. The map is laid out surrounding an amphitheatre which you can incorporate into your habitats, as dinos arrive at timed intervals for you to incorporate into the park. Alongside the main story, this set of scenarios really give you an interesting bunch of new challenges to expand your gameplay even more, along with allowing you to live out a version of your favourite film.
As with any management game, research is an important tool to be able to advance your technology, and this system has had a major overhaul. In JWE, you’d sometimes find your park being sabotaged by the department heads if you failed to keep them happy. However, this would often feel a little random, and it was generally quite easy to make sure no one got too upset. With JWE2, they took inspiration from the original Jurassic Park, and the man who screwed it up for everyone, Dennis Nedry.
The new system has you employ individual scientists and researchers, all of whom have different stats and abilities, which are required for different areas of research. They have to be paid and be kept happy, or you risk them becoming disgruntled and sabotaging your park. You might want that new dino genome, but if you overwork your staff to get it, don’t be surprised if you suddenly find your fences being turned off, and a T-Rex munching on your guests! The new system feels much more realistic than the sabotage system in the original game, which often felt more like random events.
Another hugely enhanced part of the game is the guest facilities. Rather than just plopping down a set of identical buildings, you now have much more control over the look and function of shops and other buildings to separate visitors from their cash. Rather than go down the route of Frontier’s other big park management games, Planet Zoo and Planet Coaster, which allow a ridiculous and somewhat overwhelming amount of options when it comes to building customisation, JWE2 settles on a halfway house between JWE and the Planet games. Whilst the buildings are still premade structures, they now come with a host of options to customise the look, such as changing the colour, moving the entrance, changing the decor, building materials and lighting. It’s a really good compromise between the “build anything” system of the Planet games, and the basic construction of the first JWE.
In addition to customising the outside of the guest facilities, you can also make changes to the inside. This is due to guests now having four possible interests – general, adventure, nature, and luxury. For example, adventure guests like the bigger scarier dinos, such as the T-Rex, so you’re now encouraged to set up your park to focus different areas on those groups. Around your “adventure area”, you can tailor the guest facilities to be more appealing to that guest group, along with selling food/drink and products, which are more focused on them. It adds much more complexity when it comes to considering your park layout, rather than just plonking down a shop or restaurant every so often.
The dinosaurs themselves have gone through a number of upgrades. Along with graphic enhancements, the AI has been improved with pack hunting for carnivores, more interactions between the dinos, and a dynamic territory system, which means they will fight for space if you try and cram too many into one enclosure. One big change for the herbivore dinos is the removal of the herbivore feeders. That job has been taken over by a set of foliage brushes, meaning you now have to “paint” the landscape with relevant food types to keep the dinos happy. I love this change as it makes things feel way more natural to have the dinos grazing off the land than an artificial feeder. Carnivores do still require feeders because goats don’t grow on trees!
There are a host of new dinos added into the game, along with some returning favourites. However, the biggest additions for fans are the new air and water reptiles. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to play with these in the time we had, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing how they work when the full game is released.
Overall, ‘Jurassic World Evolution 2’ is a great enhancement of the original. It still feels familiar to JWE fans, but also has so much more depth to the various mechanics, which were missing in the first game. Couple that with a slew of new dinos, including sea and air reptiles, and it should satisfy budding John Hammonds everywhere!
‘Jurassic World Evolution 2’ is released from Tuesday, 9th November 2021 on PC (Steam/Epic), PS4, PS5, XBox One, & XBox Series X/S. Find out more here.