Dealing with thirsty guests in Planet Coaster's Challenge mode

There's life in Planet Coaster even when career mode is done.

NOW PLAYING

In Now Playing articles PC Gamer writers talk about the game currently dominating their spare time. Today, Jon digs in to Planet Coaster's challenge mode.

I shouldn’t make light of what is a very serious disease, but I’m starting to think all the people in my park have diabetes. “Many guests are thirsty”, the pop-up notifications keep telling me, despite there being three Gulpee Slush kiosks and a shake stand on site to slake their seemingly unquenchable need for sickly sweet fluids. I click on the facilities menu and add another Cosmic Cow Milkshake stand. You’re welcome. 

While I happily played through all Planet Coaster’s career mode scenarios, a few months on I can’t recall any standout moments. But visually the game is so damn good I’m trying to turn ‘like’ into ‘love’ by applying myself to a series of increasingly testing objectives as they roll out in Challenge mode. 

I’ve chosen the desert setting, which generally requires Western-themed attractions, and my first challenge is to reach a Park Balance Bonus of 20. The steady addition of rides of all types and assorted cowpokery from the props menu lands me the $1,000 reward in half an hour or so. I hold off employing a mechanic and a janitor until the first ride breaks and litter and vomit lie mosaiclike on all the paths to the extent that it’s affecting the park’s rating. The game is big on calculating the likelihood of guest regurgitation—get things wrong and you’d better make sure your janitors are motivated and well paid.

Planet Coaster also places great emphasis on the need for its parks and particularly its queues to have interesting scenery so that patrons don’t lose interest and drift off. The requirements of the challenges rise incrementally until I’m asked to achieve a Park Rating of 900. More rides get placed—all linked with the flexible path-building tool—then god-like, I frantically slam down Joshua trees and cacti by the score. I employ gun-slinging entertainer Miss Elly, which I doubt makes much difference in the scheme of things but the kids seem to like watching her twirling and fanning her six-shooters. 

I’m asked to construct a coaster 1,000 metres long, which I custom-build from steel with relative ease. Further coaster-based objectives reveal themselves so I keep reconfiguring that first American Arrow to incorporate the new requirements, which include building progressively longer coasters and providing five or more seconds of airtime. Eventually, I have a 3,000- metre-long creation that’s ugly and has a footprint the size of Utah. I reduce the fear and nausea ratings using the excellent track smoothing tool while the test results show that I’m up to nine seconds of airtime.

Another notification pops up: “Many guests need the toilet”. Well what if I don’t want to build one? Will desperate guests relieve themselves against the stanchions of the nearest ride? Will their Bermuda shorts add a new meaning to the term ‘motion capture’? 

Planet Coaster’s Challenge mode cleverly alternates the objectives between the practical (rides and facilities) and the aesthetic (themes and scenery) until a few hours in, surprise surprise, you find you’ve built an amusement park that’s vibrant and densely packed with lots of colourful features. Sitting back satisfied, I’m just about to save and exit when it happens again: “Many guests are thirsty”. What is wrong with these people?