Jurassic World Evolution 2 hands-on preview: Expanding the kingdom

We got to spend a couple of hours in Frontier Developments' Jurassic World Evolution 2 ahead of its launch.

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Frontier Developments’ has become one of the go-to places for park management sims, with titles like Planet Zoo and Planet Coaster being some of the biggest of the past several years. The developer also has Jurassic World Evolution, which will be expanding into a franchise when its sequel launches in November of this year. Ahead of its release, we got to go hands-on and experience a couple of hours of gameplay from Jurassic World Evolution 2.

Life finds a way

Jurassic World Evolution takes place after the events of the latest film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (spoilers ahead). With dinosaurs now roaming around the world, the game has a slew of new settings for players to build their dinosaur parks. During my preview, I got to experience the opening of the game’s story, which saw my character working with characters Ian Malcolm and Claire Dearling to find dinosaurs out in the wild and bring them back to my park.

When gathering dinosaurs out in the wild, I had to dispatch one of my ranger units to go and tranquilize the animal. I could either do this manually or assign the computer to go take care of it. Playing in first person, it was pretty surreal to fly and drive around dinosaurs and get an up-close look at them.

The Chaos theory

Jurassic World Evolution 2 features a new mode titled Chaos Theory, in which players are given alternate reality versions of different scenarios from the Jurassic Park movies. One that I got to play during my preview envisioned a world in which John Hammond was successful in establishing a Dinosaur theme park in San Diego. Starting with the original amphitheater, I had to build up a roster of creatures and build a successful park.

This was also where I got to experience a lot of the management gameplay in Jurassic World Evolution 2. There’s a slew of systems that players will need to monitor and address in order to run a successful park. First up are the dinosaurs. Before I could open my doors, I had to build contaminants for different creatures, giving them each what they needed to survive. When caring for my Pachycephalosaurus, I had to surround it with plenty of bushes and greenery to support its herbivore diet.

When I was given two Tyrannosaurus Rexes, on the other hand, I had to ensure that they not only had huge spaces to roam but that they were supplied with animals to eat. Players will also need to take dinosaur behavior into account. The T-Rex was incredibly aggressive and would chase down my ranger teams when I sent them to fill its feeder or perform a wellness check.

One of the improvements being boasted in Jurassic World Evolution 2 is that the dinosaur behaviors and interactions have been made more logical and realistic. I learned this the hard way during my preview when I plopped two herbivorous species into the same enclosure, thinking they wouldn’t tear each other apart. Fights broke out, and I had to dispatch a ranger team to neutralize both parties while I built a separate enclosure.

Cater to your audience

In addition to making sure that all of the dinosaurs are happy and taken care of, players need to do the same for guests. As guests began pouring into my park, so did complaints about the lack of amenities, bathrooms, and worthwhile attractions. I had to install viewing centers that gave guests a great look at my roster of dinosaurs, and placed bathrooms and food stops around the park to keep them comfortable.

There was a lot of analytical feedback, as guests and dinosaurs were very specific about what issues were impacting their wellbeing. There were even maps that show what parts of my park are missing what resources. The ultimate goal is to create a park that not only has happy dinosaurs and guests but can turn a profit. Paying for additional ranger teams, hiring scientists, building structures, it all costs money. In the overview, players can see how much money their park is making on a monthly basis in relation to its expenses.

When players start off, they’ll only have access to a small selection of items and facilities. They’ll be able to access more as they conduct research, selecting different panels from a tree of options. In order to conduct research players will need to hire scientists, each of which has their own pros and cons. Some scientists may work fast but demand a higher salary. Some may be cheap but don’t bring any special boosts to the table. It’s another aspect of park management that players will need to focus on in order to unlock higher-level structures and facilities.

Endorsing the park

Much like the current iteration of films, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is clearly aiming to go bigger and better than what came before it. There’s a variety of new environments, new dinosaurs, and a new campaign to experience. We’ll have to wait until the park opens its gates on November 9, 2021, in order to see if it’s worth an endorsement.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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