Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection Q&A

Last week we announced that Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection was available for pre-order and coming to Xbox One and Windows Store on October 31.

We recently had the opportunity to have an in-depth chat with Jorg Neumann, Head of Production, Global Publishing, Microsoft Studios to talk in greater detail about the re-imagining of this game.

Tell us about Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection and what is new and different with this version of Zoo Tycoon.

When we initially brought the popular Zoo Tycoon franchise to Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2013, our goal was to create the most beautiful animals in all of gaming and that is something we believe we absolutely achieved. We are quite proud of that accomplishment.

For this new version, we focused on empowering our fans to do more of what they wanted – specifically the ability to build much larger zoos, increase their control over path construction and enclosure customization. Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection is designed to appeal to traditional Tycoon fans and new players alike, offering the most detailed environments ever seen in the franchise and even more of the most beautiful animals we love, this time from South America and Australia.

Beyond that, we also added ten all-new campaigns in these new regions and we also added another all-new challenge zoo.

 Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection is also by far the prettiest game of the series. On Xbox One X, it features awesome 4K Ultra HD visuals and HDR support. On Xbox One and Xbox One S, the game runs natively at 1080p and features HDR support on Xbox One S. It is also available on compatible Windows 10 PCs.

Lastly, the game features Xbox Play Anywhere, where you can pick up where you left off on another Xbox One device or Windows 10 PC, bringing all your saves, game add-ons and achievements with you.

Are there any new animals in this version?
Absolutely – we love the animals in Zoo Tycoon and added 91 new species (on top of the 100 we originally released in 2013) to give players almost 200 animals total. Thematically, we decided to take all the exotic animals from South America like jaguars, tapirs, and anteaters and from Australia such as kangaroos, koalas and platypuses. It’s awesome to have such a large variety to build zoos with!

Is Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection part of the franchise Microsoft had on the PC?

Yes! Zoo Tycoon was hugely popular on the PC in the early 2000s and first made its debut on Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2013. Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection is a key milestone for that franchise.

If we look under the hood of this game you’ll agree that this is a true simulation – it was developed initially by Frontier Developments plc, a studio in the UK who are experts in simulation games. We’ve combined the strong foundation of a true simulation game with the most detailed environments ever utilizing intuitive yet powerful controls that will appeal to both Tycoon fans and new players alike.

What’s the overall gameplay mechanics and objectives for the game?

In Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection players have to manage the happiness of both the animals and the guests in their zoos.

Players can attract guests by having exotic and diverse animals in their zoos. How happy these animals are matters greatly to the guests, and players can also affect the number of guests who come to the zoo by setting things like the entrance prices, the concession costs, and numerous other factors to ensure that their zoo visitors are happy.

The true stars of the zoos, however, are the animals. Players need to manage the zoos in such a way that keeps the animals happy. It’s important to keep them appropriately fed, to keep them clean and to ensure that they have appropriate companions in their exhibits. For some of these asks, players can hire appropriate staff like zoo keepers and janitors and even specialized breeders. Given that this is a true simulation, there is a robust in-game economy that drives all of this.

As far as objectives, Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection features 30 campaigns (20 from the original 2013 release, 5 new Australian campaigns and 5 new South American campaigns), 21 challenge zoos, as well as a “sandbox mode” where players can freely build zoos in the game’s 21 unique locations all over the planet without the full economy simulation being active.

Are there any multiplayer features to play together with friends and family?

In this re-imagining of the game, we wanted to make sure that Zoo Tycoon fans can easily connect with each other, which is why we include social features including four-person multiplayer over Xbox Live on the Xbox One family of devices and Windows 10 PCs.

What excites me is about that is that players can join in on the fun to create and manage zoos together, trade animals and communicate with their friends via the ZooNews feature – for example if my zoo has the new birth of a female Maltese tiger, I can trade you one my other animals for your male Maltese tiger so they can breed and expand our tiger exhibit.

Did you consult with any animal experts in making this game?

We worked closely with experts at National Geographic to ensure that our animals were well researched and that the game was a scientifically accurate depiction of the real world. When players interact with the animals, they will see that they have likes and dislikes when it comes to food, habitat and social settings based on real animals. All of these behaviors were modelled after the research and information provided by countless animal experts across the world.

Our game also features the Zoopedia, which gives players a encyclopedia of the latest facts on the 190+ animals we have assembled for Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I can’t wait to get this re-imagined version of the Zoo Tycoon franchise into the hands of “Tycoon” fans as well as new fans. You can pre-order now for $29.99 USD and it launches on October 31 at any major retailer, on Xbox.com, or in the Xbox Store or Windows Store.