Planet Coaster: Console Edition Xbox Series X Review

January 17, 2021

Planet Coaster was originally released on PC in 2016. The game was always highly anticipated, largely due to it being developed by Frontier Developments, the same company behind the first three RollerCoaster Tycoon games. Planet Coaster was coincidentally released only a few weeks apart from RollerCoaster Tycoon World, which was handled by a separate studio. Ultimately, theme park simulator fans agreed that Planet Coaster was the better game of the two, and it proved a huge success for Frontier. Since then, Frontier has added various features and DLC packs for the game. Now, finally, console gamers can see what they have been missing out on.

Planet Coaster is all about designing, maintaining and tweaking your very own theme park. Everything including the rides, walkways, toilets, staff, vendors and ticket prices are at your control. If you have played older RollerCoaster Tycoon games then that’s exactly what Planet Coaster offers, except on a bigger and grander scale. Apart from some premium DLC packs (which we assume will be released at a later date) and some customisation options such as using your own music for rides, everything that is available on the PC version has been brought over to the console version.

You can even plug in a wireless mouse and keyboard into the Xbox Series X, though this does somewhat negate the purpose of owning the console version. For those sticking to the standard Xbox controller, menus are navigated by pressing the D-pad and shoulder buttons, and placing objects is handled with the control stick and face buttons. It can get a bit confusing moving between the menus given all the customisation options, but it works well and is in line with similar games on consoles including Jurassic World Evolution and Tropico.

There are three gameplay modes; Career, Sandbox and Challenge. Career mode introduces players to the game’s mechanics through different scenarios. These generally get you to flex your creativity and management skills. Early scenarios focus on the basics such as how to hire new staff and the general controls. But you’ll quickly start learning how to create custom-built roller coasters, the importance of having rest areas for staff and patrons alike, and making theme parks profitable. Sandbox mode is where you are given a blank canvas and can let your imagination run wild. You have no money limitations, you have everything unlocked and can go your hardest at realising your dream of becoming the next Walt Disney. Challenge mode gives you a blank area to build a theme park, but you’ll have limited starting cash, guest happiness drops quicker, breakdowns occur more often and new guests are harder to attract.

The roller coaster building mechanics are some of the most in-depth that has been featured in a video game. Aside from picking the coaster type and various track options, you can also analyse the entire track to see which areas induce fear, excitement and nausea levels for riders. You ideally want to hit that sweet spot where excitement is high but the other two are on the lower end of the scale, otherwise you may find no one will ride your coaster. There are handy tutorials to explain all the ins and outs of coaster building, and once you have grasped this you are limited only by your imagination. For those who aren’t quite up to the task of designing their own coaster, there are plenty of pre-designed blueprints that you can use.

Therein lies one Planet Coaster’s greatest strengths – it’s highly accessible to all gamers. If you’re wanting to tweak the colours, get the footpathing just right or modify firework and ride sequences, then that is completely in your control. But if you don’t want to get into the nitty gritty, then the game is just as fun if you want to place pre-designed rides and set pieces. This game doesn’t punish you for wanting to play more casually, but it’s also more rewarding if you spend the time perfecting your theme park.

Another neat inclusion is the ability to switch the camera to first person mode and actually go on the rides. You can see how fast the drop on your coaster actually is, or marvel at the loops and twists some of the more exciting rides have in your theme park. There is also a day/night cycle, allowing you to experience all the action at night with the park draped in neon lights, or during the day when the sun is out. You can also pause/select the time of day, and speed up how fast time travels.

Visually, Planet Coaster has a vibrant cartoon look. It’s pleasing to look at, looks great in 4K resolution and really makes the park pop no matter what angel you’re viewing it at. There are some noticeable dips in frame rate every so often, but ultimately it’s only a minor flaw in what is otherwise a spectacular package. Great care has been taken to also ensure the game sounds like you’re in an actual theme park. Guests will scream on the rides, vendors chime whenever they make a sale, and the rides themselves make noises when their various mechanical parts are in motion, all the while theme music plays over the top.

Planet Coaster is every bit engaging on consoles as it is on PC. Players will find most customisation options and all gameplay modes have made the transition across platforms, and to top it off you even have the option to use a wireless mouse and keyboard if you prefer. The PC version is still the definitive version purely due to some extra customisation features, DLC and easier access to player mods, but otherwise this version should not be overlooked. Planet Coaster has set the standard for theme park simulators, and it’s going to be a good number of years before it is surpassed.


Planet Coaster: Console Edition was reviewed on an Xbox Series X console with a review copy provided by Rising Star Games. For more information, check out the game’s official website.


- Every bit as engaging as the PC version
- UI and controls works well for consoles
- Lots of customisation options


- Frame rate issues
- Some (minor) customisation options and DLC featured in the PC version are not present here

Overall Score: