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Planet Coaster seems like the kind of game that wouldn’t work on consoles, yet here we are. Planet Coaster: Console Edition is coming out this holiday season for Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. I’ve played an in-development version of the Xbox One version.
Surprisingly, it works. Planet Coaster has you building and managing your own theme parks. It requires a lot of menus, pointing, and clicking. Those kinds of interfaces can excel on PC, but they are trickier to pull off with console controllers. But Frontier Developments has created a way to still enjoy a relaxing Planet Coaster experience away from your PC.
I played my demo via Parsec, which allowed me to access Frontier’s console version remotely. This introduced a bit of input lag that shouldn’t be a problem when you’re playing on an actual console. You can watch my recorded demo above. If you see some awkwardness, part of that is me figuring out the console UI and part of it is dealing with the lag. It’s not because I’m bad, I swear.
The console version does a good job of translating the PC game’s controls to a gamepad. The right stick and trigger buttons control the camera. You use the A button to select objects from your park, and you use the shoulder bumpers and D-pad to navigate menus. You can also access a radial menu with some shortcuts with the Y button.
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Controls change based on what you’re doing. For example, if you’re placing an object, like a tree, you can hold the X button to raise or lower it. These contextual controls change based on your activity, but the game will always tell you what they are on the left side of the screen.
It’s also relatively easy to learn these controls, and the basic mechanics of the game, thanks to a new, voiced tutorial. This teaches the basics of Planet Coaster, including building rides, creating paths, decorating, and raising prices. Some of those lessons may only help when playing through the game’s scenarios, which have you complete specific tasks while maintaining a profitable park. But you can also access a sandbox mode, where you can make a giant theme park free of monetary restrictions. And just like on PC, you can share your creations online or download the works of other players and import them into your parks.
Things become more complicated when you’re actually building roller coasters. You still have access to the same tools and options as you do on PC, but laying down track and making adjustments to things like the angles of your banked turns takes more time on console. It could be something that you get used to with more time, but I doubt I’ll ever be as efficient with it as I am on PC.
And I guess that’s a good point to raise. Do you want Planet Coaster: Console Edition if you already have it on your decent PC? Probably not. But if you are a fan of theme parks or sim games and you don’t have a gaming PC, this is an alternative that will work better than you’d guess.
I also imagine that it will be fun to see your digital theme park running on a giant, 4K TV. And when I try to imagine ways to relax, spending some time on my couch adjusting souvenir prices and building digital coasters sounds pretty nice.
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