Counterpoint: new pets are valuable
As much as I love Planet Zoo, I can't say I love Frontier Developments' piecemeal approach to DLC.
The first add-on, the Arctic Pack, had its place – but I was worried about diminishing returns, and sure enough, here they are. This week's South America Pack is also $10, but it doesn't have any new story scenarios. Instead, it's just animals and landscape pieces to build your ideal zoo.
This caveat might be fine if meticulous construction is your main draw for this game – I check the Planet Zoo subreddit weekly to see people's imaginations come to life, and I'm always blown away by what's possible – but for me, it's a disappointment. I need scripts to keep me engaged at this point.
If you're still on the fence, let me browse the content of the South America Pack.
Animals are definitely the highlight. Even though the process of fine-tuning habitats remains the same, I've always had fun building new homes in one of my existing franchise zoos for a majestic jaguar, a pair of floofy llamas, a giant anteater (my pet spiritual) and a barrel of playful capuchin monkeys.
There's also a new solitary exhibit animal, the red-eyed tree frog. It's a beautiful, iconic creature, but as with the other stationary exhibit animals, the tree frog isn't exactly dynamic. It just chills all day.
A big part of the Planet Zoo experience is learning all the tools at your disposal and figuring out how to juggle the most demanding simulation systems. Once you've nailed that – I'm 70 hours into the game now – then it's a matter of sticking to your effective routine. This can be relaxing in itself.
On the zoo building side of the South America pack, there are "250 new buildings, scenery, and foliage," but there's more overlap with existing content than I would have liked. That said, in the right hands, these things can be put to good use – especially Ruins and Bamboo Pieces.
For those of us not ready to commit to an elaborately cohesive, themed zoo built from the ground up, Aztec-inspired pre-made decorations are there for the taking. I won't say if you won't.
here is a partial check out the new DLC trees, structures, signs and building blocks:
Apart from this paid DLC pack, the developers have also released a substantial free update.
There's too much to slam here, but as you can tell from the patch notes update 1.2, they're still working to solidify the fundamental gameplay loop, which is part of why the less-than-generous DLC Do not disturb me. I like the info panel for Guest Education (this mechanic can be weirdly elusive) and the best pedigree info for people who want to raise superstars. Other information — like a search option in Zoopedia and shared searches across all zoos in the franchise — is much appreciated.
Amusingly, they still change the power dynamics of Guardians. One of these days, he'll get there.
My best-case scenario is that Frontier "saves" a large batch of animals and embarks on a real expansion into Planet Zoo rather than checking a list with ephemeral DLC packs here and there. I feel like it might happen eventually, but for now I'm waiting for more mini packs. (And I will continue to play them.)
(This piece of impressions is based on a retail version of the downloadable content provided by the publisher.)
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