'… A THOUSAND QUESTIONS I WANT THE TEAM TO ANSWER.'
When we learned, back in August, that we'd be hearing more about Frontier Developments' Jurassic World Evolution in October, I despaired at how long the wait ahead seemed. But I needn't have. What feels like the blink of an eye later, we've finally had our first look at the game.
While said look answered some questions, though, it raised about sixty-five million more. So, without further ado — or an endless-feeling segment covering the history of a certain company… — let's dig in.
By far the most interesting tidbit gleaned from this afternoon's presentation is, I think, the revelation that players won't be building on Isla Nublar in Evolution, but across the chain of islands introduced in The Lost World: Isla Sorna. Isla Matanceros. Isla Tacaño. Isla Pena. Isla Muerta.
Las Cinco Muertes (The Five Deaths).
Obviously, this raises a fair few questions about what's been going on with Sorna, but I think it's infinitely more compelling to consider what it means for Nublar. On-stage, the developers stated that they aren't yet ready to discuss the role the home of both Jurassic Park and the original Jurassic World plays in their game, but the brief synopsis —
"Jurassic World Evolution evolves players' relationship with the Jurassic World film franchise, placing them in control of operations on the legendary island of Isla Nublar and the surrounding islands of the Muertes Archipelago. Players will build their own Jurassic World as they bioengineer new dinosaur breeds and construct attractions, containment and research facilities. Every choice leads to a different path and spectacular challenges arise when ‘life finds a way.'"
— which states that players will have control over operations on Nublar, makes it seem like said role will be a significant one. Is it possible, then, that there's more to Evolution’s title than simply sounding cool? Is it possible that, in the game's universe, the events of Jurassic World — and possibly Fallen Kingdom — actually took place, and that the park built across The Five Deaths is an attempt to restore Jurassic World to its former glory… its evolution, if you will?
Despite some slight, nostalgia-fuelled disappointment at the idea of not building my park on Nublar, I have to admit that the idea of doing so across multiple islands has the potential to be incredible. During the reveal, the developers mentioned that Evolution will offer three main gameplay paths: Entertainment, Security, and Science. Each path will come with its own objectives ('contracts') and players will be able to focus on one, or find any balance of the three they wish — and, on that score, having multiple islands could help a great deal.
Imagine: on one island, you have a classic park, the realisation of John Hammond's dream. On another, you have more of a safari, where daring visitors can head for a more intimate experience with your dinosaurs. On still another island, you might have something for those seeking thrills more than anything: up close and personal with the most dangerous dinosaurs — and, of course, hybrids… — on the islands.
And after all that, you'll still have two islands to do… well, whatever you want with. The possibilities are endless, and, for me, by far the most exciting thing about Evolution.
The presentation also gave us a look a some other elements of the game. Frankly, I was surprised by just how similar to Operation Genesis it seems, said similarities running much deeper than the fact that both games are park builders.
As in Operation Genesis, environmental disasters will pose a threat to players' parks. As in Operation Genesis, players will be tasked with building a complete genome for their dinosaurs — though you'll be able to tweak said genome this time — and, as in Operation Genesis, the raw material for creating that genome will come from various Dig Sites around the world.
I must admit, my heart sank a little when I saw those Dig Sites.
I don't have any problem whatsoever with the concept, but in Operation Genesis, you could only access a limited number of them, meaning you'd miss out entirely on having some species in your park. While I loved Operation Genesis on the whole, that feature, frankly, sucked — nine times out of ten, in fact, I'd use a cheat to get rid of it. I sincerely hope no such limitations are present in Evolution.
Could there be certain requirements for unlocking each site? Sure — just don't deny access permanently. We will, after all, be in the business of sparing no expense.
Elsewhere, I was very interested to see how Evolution will look in-game. After the incredibly high bar set by August's pre-rendered reveal trailer, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when a screenshot of some brachiosaurs appeared behind the developers.
It was the lighting, I think, and the not-quite-perfectly-smooth curve of the animals' necks. Obviously, I knew not to expect the breathtaking quality of the initial trailer, but like I said, I couldn't help but be a little disappointed.
As it turns out, though, the screenshot was just a poor one, and any disappointment I felt was completely obliterated by the in-game footage we saw soon after it.
Working to film-quality standards — and, in some cases, using actual assets from Jurassic World as a base — Frontier has created some incredible-looking dinosaurs. They look how you'd expect them to, move how you'd expect them to, and, most impressively, they seem to behave like you'd expect them to.
They were, by quite a stretch, the stars of today's show, those dinosaurs… which was fortunate, given that they were pretty much all we saw.
As one of the Frontier team said, these are still very early days for Evolution. There's quite a lot of development ahead, and quite a lot more things yet to be revealed — but if they're of the same quality as what we saw today, then I reckon we could be in for a treat when the game finally hits shelves next summer.
I can't wait to see more.
Oh, and I couldn't help but notice that the developers made their entrance to the Jurassic Park theme, and then proceeded to talk about their love of the franchise having come from Jurassic Park, with Jurassic World being mentioned only in passing. Speaks volumes, eh?
Until next time.