After ten long years (not to mention several different developers) the fourth major installment in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series, RollerCoaster Tycoon World, will arrive on December 10. Prior to launch, there will be two beta weekends for those who pre-purchase the game to get an early look.
I spoke on Monday with Atari CEO Fred Chesnais, COO Todd Shallbeter, Senior Director of Marketing Tony Chien, and RCTW producer Matt Labunka. While RCTW's multiplayer mode will not be ready in time for launch, they told me it is planned as an free update in the future. In the meantime, there will still be some online functionality when the game is released. You'll be able to visit your friends' parks and utilize other social features like sharing screenshots and videos.
They also confirmed that RCTW will include Steam Workshop support at launch—which has certainly done wonders for extending the lifespan of city-building sim Cities: Skylines. RCTW will allow players to upload and share the coasters they build, custom scenery, and other assets, along with saved games and parks. According to Atari, creating your own scenery and "peeps" (park visitors) can be done with any 3D editing program compatible with Unity. Atari couldn't quite confirm there would be deeper mod support in the future, to allow custom-made rides or other changes to the core gameplay, though producer Matt Labunka told me it is "certainly something we're looking at."
Atari initially took some criticism back in March for their first RCTW gameplay trailer, with many fans finding the visuals underwhelming and voicing concerns about low framerates. Since then, however, Atari has upgraded to Unity 5 and the videos released since then (at least in my opinion) show a good deal of improvement.
RCTW will ship with a scenario mode in which, similar to previous games in the series, players build parks to reach certain milestones before moving on to start a new park. I personally always hated having to leave a park just to start over with a new one, so I was relieved to hear there will also be a campaign mode that takes place in a single park, where players unlock new rides and buildings as they progress. Naturally, there will be a sandbox mode where players can build without restrictions or milestones (and with infinite money).
As in RCT3, you can also ride all of your attractions in first-person mode, and in addition to the free camera you'll be able to use an isometric view if that's your jam. RCTW also features gridless object placement to allow players to position buildings and rides at any angle they choose, though there will be an option to 'snap' things in place for more casual players (like me).
RollerCoaster Tycoon World can now be pre-purchased at its official site, and may also be found in the Steam store. There are a few editions to choose from: the standard edition, or for $10 more, a Digital Deluxe version which comes with a digital art book, two extra maps and a few cosmetic items. There's also an 'Ultimate Tycoon' version which includes the Digital Deluxe edition plus all of the previous games (and their DLC) from the RollerCoaster Tycoon series.
Pre-purchasing any version of RollerCoaster Tycoon World will grant players access to two beta weekends prior to the December launch. One beta weekend is planned for the end of October, the other for the end of November. Taking that pre-purchase leap is a risk we're always going to be wary of, but we'll look to the beta weekends for early impressions.