GDC 2018: RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride Hands-On Impression

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

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RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride | Logo

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Publisher(s): Atari
Release Date: Spring 2018
Atari Website / Twitter / Facebook / YouTube

When I’ve played prior games in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series, one of the things that I’ve always spent the most time playing around with has been the rollercoaster builder. I mean seriously, its in the name of the game. At GDC 2018, I was able to try out Atari’s first venture into the VR realm with RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride. In this tightly focused title, RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride is purely about building (and then riding in VR) the best possible rollercoaster that you can make.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride | Cart

You won’t just be customizing tracks in RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride. You can also customize your cart as well! (Image courtesy of Atari).

One of the things that impressed me the most about my time with the hands-on demo for RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride was how simple it was to build a track in the track editor (which isn’t in VR but can be played in the PlayStation VR Cinematic Mode). In the track editor, you can just literally pick out pieces, snap them into place, and then be riding your custom rollercoaster in mere seconds. Due to not having to deal with all of the technical simulation building aspects present in prior entries of the franchise, such as controlling for excessive forces and worrying about brake failure breakdowns being absent in this entry (from what I could tell), RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride is purely just that: a joyride experience that focuses on the thrill of riding.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride | Track

If you can dream it, you can build it in RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride. (Image courtesy of Atari).

In addition to riding the track, there is also a shooting gallery experience automatically included with each track in RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride. You are armed with a gun that shoots from the middle of your cart that you use a DualShock 4 controller for. As you roll around the track, there are point targets to shoot, power-ups to shoot to activate, and obstacles to either shoot to deactivate before passing by or to avoid shooting so you don’t suffer a negative effect. This feature worked well, and I was quite pleased with how you could go around a track and feel like the game was not ‘unfair’ or jittery with letting you shoot at targets and building a high score. This shooting gallery reminded me a lot of Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, but fixes that game’s biggest issue of no real replayability due to RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride having the ability to upload custom tracks online. This online capability means that you will hopefully never run out of tracks to play on, experience, and shoot on.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride | Targets

When designing your course, there are a number of shooting targets and obstacles you can include to challenge the rider. (Image taken by me).

As a side note: my first thought, after playing games such as Impulse Gear’s excellent PSVR title Farpoint, is how would this shooting game aspect work with the PSVR Aim Controller and Move controllers? The shooting gun is centered in the middle of the vehicle, and as a result, the shoulder-butt PSVR Aim Controller just wouldn’t make physical-tactile sense for RollerCoaster Tyroon Joyride. The same goes for the Move controllers, as I feel like there would be too much of a disassociation between what you see in the car (a centrally located gun) versus waving a Move around to target.

RollerCoaster Tycoon | Joyride

The gun is centrally located in your cart, and the DualShock 4 controller feels perfectly natural to use as a result. (Image courtesy of Atari).

Overall, I was pleased with the game and I had a lot of fun with it, for it was absolutely thrilling to ride a crazy rollercoaster around a track that was totally custom built. I do however have a few concerns with the game. One of my concerns is that there is a real potential for VR sickness, and the developer has recognized this as it was this particular cited concern that I was only able to try out the simpler tracks during GDC 2018. VR sickness is a concern to really to be potentially expected, however, as Rollercoaster Tycoon Joyride is…a rollercoaster VR game. I mean, seriously. The warning is right there in the title. My second concern is how uploading tracks online work. Rather than just being able to upload tracks and having people rate the tracks so the best rise to the top and the rest sink down to the bottom, it is instead a leaderboard system. As it was explained to me during GDC 2018, if your custom track places high enough on the leaderboard, then other people can find your track through the leaderboard and download it from there. I see a potential for abuse with this system. This can lead to tracks meant to ‘game’ the leaderboard system to appear for download can be built, and more experimental tracks that don’t have necessarily a high point total but innovate the game in unexpected ways will never be seen. This also places a heavy emphasis on the shooting aspect of the game…since no one will see your game outside of it.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride | World

The surrounding world is gorgeous to look at in VR, even if you’re going through loops. (Image courtesy of Atari).

My biggest concern though is what the price point will be versus total content. As of this article being published, there has not been a price point announced, and RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride is purely a rollercoaster building and riding simulation from what I can tell. While there is also a mission mode included to where you build tracks to achieve certain set objectives, it is clear that the heart and soul of this game is building your own tracks and sharing them online.  I hope that Atari will recognize this and price the game accordingly as a result.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride is coming out on the PlayStation 4 in Spring 2018.

If you could design your own rollercoaster track, what would you put on it? Are you planning on picking up this title? 

Let us know in the comments below!