Jurassic World Evolution is a game I’ve been waiting years to play. To understand why, we need to go all the way back to 2003, when a long-forgotten game called Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis launched on Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC. Operation Genesis, like Jurassic World Evolution, tasked you with creating your own Jurassic Park, and it was a sublime experience that was sadly limited by console technology at the time.
For instance, you could only have have 60 total dinosaurs in your park, despite the fact that there were 25 different species to pick from. So, if you were trying to operate a park that had as many dinosaur species as possible, you weren’t always able to have herds of herbivores living among your fearsome carnivores at the same time. Even if you did work out the perfect ratios for your park, you were still limited in how many structures you could build or how many fossil sites you could excavate, making it very difficult to fill your entire island with dinosaurs and attractions.
Despite its limitations, it still became a favorite game of mine instantly. I still play it to this day, although here in 2017 I’ve graduated to the PC version, which has been modded so much that it has little in common with the game that released 14 years ago. The entire time, I’ve been dreaming of a follow up, which is precisely what Jurassic World Evolution seems to be.
The problem is that I’ve been burned in the past by games that seem to offer the same type of gameplay as my dear Operation Genesis. Jurassic Park Builder for mobile comes to mind – what starts out as a promising mobile game in vein of Operation Genesis quickly turns into a cash grab that wants me to pay for everything and link to Facebook before I can even visit other parks. No thank you.
That’s what has me worried about Jurassic World Evolution. We’re living in a time now where microtransactions in single-player games are a legitimate concern for some gamers. At this early stage, with just a teaser trailer to go on, I’m worried that Jurassic World Evolution might turn out to be the same thing: a single-player game that’s packed with microtransactions and doesn’t value my time or the fact that I paid retail price for it up front.
The good news is that Frontier, the developer behind Planet Coaster, is heading up this new game. Planet Coaster has received a lot of love from the PC crowd, but the difference here could prove to be Universal. After all, it’s clear that Jurassic Park makes Universal a ton of money, so the temptation is almost certainly there to do all sorts of consumer unfriendly things to make as much cash as possible from Jurassic World Evolution. If Warner Bros can’t resist putting microtransactions in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, I’m not putting it past Universal either.
On the other hand, maybe I’m wrong to worry. Maybe Universal saw what Frontier did with Planet Coaster and asked it to make the best Jurassic World park builder it could without much in the way of input. I hope I’m wrong, because if Jurassic World Evolution is good, I will play it from now until the next worldwide extinction event.
Sorry, that was a bad joke, geopolitical tensions considered.