Planet Coaster has to be the best theme park tycoon/strategy game since the original Theme Park all the way back in 1994. Damn, that sounds like such a long time ago, it feels like just yesterday I was playing it daily. Well, I guess that’s not too far from the truth, even all these years later I still return to it now and again thanks to my trusty friend GOG.
Anyway, Planet Coaster is like the original Theme Park, just better. There are more things to manage (if you want to), the graphics are awesome, and it’s definitely more “my sort of game” when compared to, say, Roller Coaster Tycoon, where I felt there was too much emphasis on building a roller coaster when all I wanted to do was run a theme park. Anyway, I digress, this isn’t a review, this is a guide, so let me get on with the best tips and tricks that I know for Planet Coaster.
These tips have been compiled by myself, I may have missed some tips that you know, so please do let me know in the comments and I will get them added.
Build up slowly
The hardest part of Planet Coaster is at the start; when I first began the game I must have had to start all over again at least five times before I got it into my stupid head that building track rides or coasters isn’t the way to go in the beginning. These rides are just way too expensive and will leave you with a rubbish two-ride park that’s hemorrhaging money in no time. Instead, you should focus on “normal” rides, such as the Cube or the Teacups. At the start you’ll easily be able to afford a good few rides which should keep your guests entertained.
Once you’re turning a profit, save up for a track ride; these will have many more guests queuing for them, so ensure that you build your queue long enough to accommodate everyone. And again, once you’re turning a profit move onto coasters – these should always be the last rides to go in.
Max out queue scenery
When you click on a ride in your park you’ll see the Ride Overview screen (you might have to click on the Overview tab if you’ve changed it previously), on this tab you’ll see a section for ‘Scenery’, this is essentially how interesting your queues are – nobody wants to queue for an hour looking at grass, so make sure you’re putting lots of scenery around the queue lines to increase the ‘Scenery’ score in the Ride Overview. Keep adding scenery until you hit 100% and this will tempt more visitors to queue and pay for the ride, and you will also be able to increase the ride cost without guests complaining.
The quickest way to increase the scenery score is by using the ‘Blueprints’ tab in the scenery section, these are essentially pre-built scenery templates which compromise of several individual items. For example, it might be a pirate set which includes a barrel, palm tree, crates, and a skull, all put together in a nice little display. By placing one of these down you’re adding several items in one click, which is a lot quicker and they tend to look better too. Essentially, it’s a numbers game – the game itself doesn’t know if it looks good or not, it just wants to see X amount of scenery items around the queue.
Slow down on the hospitality
Until you’re turning over a healthy profit you shouldn’t worry too much about food and drink. Sure, you’ll need one of each towards the start of the game just to keep some guests happy but that’s all you need for a good while, even if guests are complaining about finding nowhere to drink. The gift and food shops are a real drain on your cash reserves, and having too many will lead to you making a loss on them, especially since the vendors that manage them never seem to be in there.
When you do think it’s time for a new shop, make sure you keep an eye on it in the Park Management area – if it begins to make a loss get rid of it or try moving its location.
Strategically re-brand rides
Ride aging can be a nuisance. Every ride will eventually begin to age, and when it gets too old it will become less popular and eventually it seems like nobody goes to the ride at all, which obviously leads to the ride making a loss. However, once a ride gets old enough it becomes a classic, which in turn increases its reputation more than when it was in it’s prime (120%), so the conundrum is which rides do you take a loss on until it becomes a classic? Well, I tend to only let the more expensive rides become classics – sure, that means that I miss out on a lot of revenue while it sits there half empty, but when it becomes a classic I will be able to bump up the ticket prices further. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t just let all of your expensive rides sit empty at once, I generally have just one aging ride per year, or potentially more if I have enough rides and enough profit to sustain it.
As a side note, if you hate the ride aging mechanic then it is possible to turn it off through the game options, but that is cheating. You wouldn’t do that, would you?
Don’t forget ATM’s
Guests only walk into the park with a certain amount of cash on them, so if you don’t have ATM machines then what they’re carrying is the maximum amount that they will spend in your park. Make sure that you dot ATM machines around so that guests always have enough money on them for one more ride. I tend to place ATM’s around gift shops and food shops; I’m not 100% sure if it makes any difference where you put them, but it just makes sense to me to put them where I want guests to spend money.
Train your staff
Staff training is often overlooked by novice tycoon players, but in Planet Coaster it’s an absolute must or you’ll be wasting money on hiring more staff because your incompetent staff can’t cope with the workload. With each level of training (5 star maximum) your staff member becomes more efficient – this is especially useful for Janitors, as you’ll soon find out that litter and stepping in sick really annoys your guests, so much so that it will soon downgrade the overall Guest Happiness and, out of nowhere, you’ll go from turning a profit to making a loss, so make sure you train your Janitors so they can keep on top of it. You can, of course, just hire more, but that will end up costing you more money than simply increasing wages after you’ve trained them.
Training is also important for Vendors, especially if you’re getting notifications for long queues at stores (food and drink), as Vendors that have been trained serve customers quicker.
Build custom coasters in Sandbox mode
Building your own roller coaster can be expensive, especially when you keep changing stuff or adding to it, so it’s best to create your coasters in Sandbox Mode. If you haven’t played Sandbox Mode before, it’s basically an empty playing field with unlimited money, which makes it a great area to build the coaster of your dreams. Luckily for us you’re able to save the coasters that you build in Sandbox Mode as blueprints which can then be utilised in the campaign or even in the challenges.
Starting a sandbox game without unlimited money
Something that struck me as strange when I first played the Sandbox Mode in Planet Coaster is that you start with unlimited money with no obvious way to change it. In fact, there is no way to change it. Usually in other tycoon games Sandbox Mode will have options to change various settings, including starting capital, but not in Planet Coaster.
However, it is ‘kind of’ possible to play Sandbox Mode without unlimited money, it’s just not called Sandbox Mode. Instead, boot up a ‘Challenge’ game – this will put you on an empty map with some starting money. There are also some challenges for you to complete (obviously), but you can dismiss these if you wish.
Setup priority queues
Priority queues allow guests to purchase a Priority Pass so that they can access rides quicker than other guests. In order to set up the Priority Pass you will need to have an ‘Information Center’ which is where guests will purchase the Pass from, and you will also need to set up Priority Queues, which you do from within the rides Information panel. When setting up the queue you’ll have to connect one end to the start of the regular queue and one end towards the end of it – this will allow Priority Pass holders to skip the section of the regular queue that the priority queue bypasses.
It’s important to note that you only need to set up these queues on rides with long queue times – these are usually track rides and roller coasters.
So, there we have it, my top tips for Planet Coaster. This list is still a work in progress and I will add more tips when I discover them. If you know of any more please do let me know in the comments and I will add them!