It’s semi-inevitable when previewing a game that your brain will end up drawing links to similar titles, whether you want it to or not. Thus Singularity gets likened to BioShock, The Witcher 3 gets compared to Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Shadow of Mordor is put up against Assassin’s Creed.
But what surprised me while playing RollerCoaster Tycoon World this week at PAX is that a single title kept coming to mind, and it absolutely wasn’t one I expected—Cities: Skylines.
If you didn’t play Cities: Skylines earlier this year, first of all: You should, provided you like city builders.
Cities: Skylines is a surprisingly good basis for comparison though. There’s the obvious, “Both games involve building,” link to be drawn, of course. But it goes deeper, into the fundamental approach Cities: Skylines and RollerCoaster Tycoon World take to creation.
What makes Cities: Skylines so great is that it makes it easy (and fun) to create a beautiful, vibrant city in a matter of minutes. Lay some streets, throw down some highways, zone a few neighborhoods, drop in a police station and a hospital, and you’re on your way. It’s not threatening, and it’s not overly time-consuming. You play, and you learn by playing.
Even more important—there’s depth when you’re ready. Underneath its seemingly-simple façade, Cities: Skylines packs dozens of different simulations from water to traffic to pollution. Sure, you can make a livable city in a matter of minutes, but making an amazing city? That takes both patience and no small amount of skill.
Now, keep in mind I’ve only had about half an hour of hands-on time with RollerCoaster Tycoon World. But from what I’ve played it feels similar. After a quick walkthrough of the tools by one of the developers, I jumped into a blank park and started building, and it’s easy.
I threw down some paths, I put in a couple of trees, and then I decided to test my hand with the new rollercoaster constructor. Last time I saw the game, all rollercoaster construction was done on a grid. And it worked really well—much better than the old RollerCoaster Tycoon games.
Nevertheless, that system is completely gone—and it’s replaced with something even more intuitive. The final game will feature the ability to snap to a local grid if you’d like straight lines, but normal coaster construction is now entirely spline-based. In other words: You draw a line, each line is constructed of a bunch of nodes, and then you push/pull/raise/lower/twist those nodes at will. It feels like sculpting rollercoaster-shaped clay.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.