Planet Zoo

Didn't see a thread for this, so I'll create one.

This game is fantastic. It's a zoo simulator, with the level of detail of Planet Coaster in construction and management, but with the added interest (and complexity) of having to deal with animals. You can construct a zoo from the ground up, or work on existing zoos with "challenges". You have to do all the Planet Coaster stuff, in a zoo context - laying out the zoo, designing and building exhibits, putting in support buildings, stuff to feed and entertain your guests, provide transport, decorate... All the usual stuff with incredibly granular detail - individual plants, total control over terrain, and things like water treatment and electrical power distribution. Staffing too, each of your staff members has various stats and areas of competence. All that is balm to the soul; you can spend hours just putting a park together.

But then, you have the animals. They have all sorts of needs, psychological and social as well as physical. They need native plants and even terrain (ranging from sand to snow to short and long grasses, rock, water, shelters, and on and on). They need enrichment - toys, scratching posts, scent pots and more. They need food and water and shelter. (You can hand-design the shelters from parts if you like, to fit a theme, just like the other structures in the zoo.) And they have social needs - are there enough juveniles? Do the herd animals actually have a herd? Do you have hiding places (literally!) for the solitary animals to get away from the visitors? Don't worry - your guests can still see them if you use one-way glass.

The animals themselves have a complex array of behaviors taken from hundreds of hours of video and enhanced by conversations with real zoo keepers and animal experts. The skeletal modeling is exquisite. Just watching the Reticulated Giraffes move with that weird lope they have, and stretch their necks around to nibble at an itch is amazing in its authenticity. Animals poop, and it's accurately portrayed, and hopefully you have enough keepers around to keep the exhibits clean and disease free. Yes, the game includes illnesses.

I have not reached this point yet, but you can breed animals and raise them from babies. Wolf cubs. Baby giraffes. Lion cubs and little hippos. The game has over 40 animals modeled at this point, but you can bet it will get more. There are all sorts of biomes with appropriate plants and terrain. You can have a Bird-eating Spider exhibit, or design a Snow Leopard den with snow and rocks to climb on.

There is also a research capability, that allows you to unlock all sorts of things for animals. Further, you can release animals into the wild (that's a conservation aspect of zoo-keeping). So you can give your animals better food, toys, etc. as you progress through the game.

I'm still in the tutorial, and it's utterly captivating. Bear in mind, I am OCD and ADHD, so nothing grabs me more than a game that's incredibly detailed but still has a pause button. Early on, you're given an intro to the tools, and then told to look around the zoo and fix problems you see. There are numerous ways to find issues - click on animals, or pull up a spreadsheet, or just examine elements in the habitats and see for yourself. But then, you can fix them. Pull up plants and replace them with better ones. Change the soil. Add a water feature through terrain modification (quiet or rough water). Put in moats. Add toys, rocks, shelters, keeper huts, staff break areas, coolers or heaters for the animals. Whatever. There's a freaking slider for each animal to allow you to give them contraceptives!

This is a real animal care simulation. Animals age and need vet care, can get stressed by the visitors or their enclosure, or suffer from heat, lack of food or water, or dirty environments. It's up to you to keep them happy. And of course, your guests provide you with operating funds based on their enjoyment; that's a whole side of the game I have not dug into yet.

So, think of this game as a park building and management game, with extreme detail and customization as in Planet Coaster, but with a whole new layer of complexity laid onto it with the animal care. It's peaceful and relaxing, thanks to the pause button, but it provides excellent visuals and animations. You can share your designs with others, and there's some feature that lets your avatar (not you actually) appear in other people's zoos. Seven people's avatars dropped in while I was doing a tutorial.

This is zooming up to the top of my game of the year list. It's that good. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Thanks for making the thread, Robear. I’m
Very curious about this game. I asked a question in another thread but it’s far more relevant here.

In the newly released Planet Zoo, is there any way to turn off all management in the sandbox mode?

I want to build a zoo with my toddler. Ask her what animals she wants and have her design with me. Do not want to spend time in menus managing the zoo, however. I know you can turn off animal deaths, illness, and employees quitting.

The obvious thing to do is to take a functioning zoo, like the Tutorial one, that's all staffed up and running well, and just use that. The tutorial zoos are available in Sandbox, or you can start your own. That should allow you to be steady-state for a long time.

I checked, and the only option I see that directly affects that would be one that prevents staff from quitting. You also have animals not being born or aging, stuff like that. But nothing that turns off the entire management aspect.

Thanks, Robear. I was concerned there wouldn’t be a free play design mode. I really wanted to let her design it with me and minimize the amount of time in menus.

I doubt there are cheats since that’s not a thing in games anymore.

Your idea of making a functioning zoo is a good idea. Mmmmiiiggghhhhtttt give that a try when some funds become available.

Well, there are already functional zoos in the tutorials, and if you just do the tutorial first, you will fix any issues with them. Plus... It's spreadsheet management, mostly, and not really intrusive. Alerts come up on the left side of the screen, and they don't bug you (for better or worse).

I'd concentrate on things like adding an exhibit, or maybe changing one to a different animal, or redecorating, or maybe even visiting other people's zoos (if I ever find out how to do that).

Oooohhh... It's your *avatar* that visits other players zoos. Not you. Bummer. But you can download zoos from Steam Workshop, that other people made.

Yeeessss. This is the autumn release I was waiting for.

I think there are still some kinks to be worked out, but it's a really pleasant experience so far. My primary complaint? The optimum number of wolves in an exhibit is.....two. Yes, a wolfpack of two. It's not a limitations thing, the flamingo limit is 10-150. Not sure what drove that decision.

I wonder if a bigger exhibit could house more wolves?

No, nothing to do with size. The optimum group of wolves in Planet Zoo is 2 adults.

Interesting. I read a few papers and it looks like the core of a pack is considered to be a mated pair, and any offspring they have. Also, captive wolves are often housed in pairs (presumably mated), as an alternative to packs. I suspect that has to do with the fact that in the wild, packs are essentially family units. Certainly zoos keeping unrelated wolves in "packs" led to massive problems (and bad research that took decades to correct).

I wonder what will happen when those wolves have pups, in the game?

Edit - I checked the wiki and it says "2-12" for the numbers in an enclosure...?

Pumped the research up to level 6 to see if that would expand the number, but it's not budging. On the other hand, PUPPIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!

So cute!

Built some habitats today, for various animals. It's much less daunting than it appears at first, the tools are quite good. Just be sure to lay out the infrastructure you need (power, water, staff buildings, staff hires) before you actually build the enclosure, so you don't screw up and forget to leave room for that stuff. Hide infrastructure with lots of bushes and trees and rocks, so the guests don't focus on them and get bored.

I'm impressed with the terrain tools, and like Planet Coaster, you can use pre-built structures, or build your own from parts, and group elements together if you think you need to repeat them. Building a nice wading pool for my Tapiers, with a small sandy beach and shallows in the middle, was the work of a minute, and the guests love watching them frolic in the water.

This is a great chillout game.