Fans of the RollerCoaster Tycoon series have been long anticipating an update to the game that would do the series justice. That answer seemed to come when “RollerCoaster Tycoon World” was announced back in August 2014. Unfortunately, the game was faced with delays and the deadline came and went. Many fans began to wonder if the game was ever going to release or face a development cycle like “Duke Nukem Forever.” Then, out of the blue, an announcement was posted on Thursday, March 24, 2016, that “RollerCoaster Tycoon World” is coming to Steam Early Access and releasing very soon!
“RollerCoaster Tycoon World” was originally supposed to release in “early 2015.” Obviously, that never happened, but it was probably for a good reason. The game underwent a massive overhaul and had shuffled through multiple developers, each of whom was adamant that they would not settle for anything less than a product that truly captures the spirit of the original series. Whether or not that is the case remains to be seen, but we do know one thing about the current developers Nvizzio Creations: They are going to get this long-overdue title in the hands of fans as soon as possible.
To do so, Nvizzio decided to move the game into the Steam Early Access program. This has its advantages and disadvantages. While it may be quite some time before the game hits the shelf in retails stores, eager fans can now get their hands on “RollerCoaster Tycoon World” as early as March 30, 2016.
So why Early Access? Well, in a way, the development process has been treating the game like an early access title ever since the first delay. A series of public betas were announced; however, after the first one, it was clear that the betas also needed to be postponed. In the end, only one of the three planned public betas ever took place. After that, the “RollerCoaster Tycoon World” sat in the dark for a while – for most of us, anyway.
“As some of you may have guessed, we’ve been silently running a large test group with some members of the community since the beginning of the year. We’ve made so much progress with this group – getting invaluable feedback, testing ideas, and more – that we realized how much of a boon letting the rest of the community in would be in shaping our game.”
Thus, the decision to move to Early Access seemed like a no-brainer. There is a whole list of features that are planned for the Wednesday release which you can find over on the Steam Community Page. Some of the highlights include a brand-new coaster builder (which was highlighted in the public beta), freeform object placement, curved pathways, a campaign mode with an initial set of scenarios, and UGC and Steam Workshop support. There was also a sneak peek at some of the planned future updates, which will add a scenario editor, new themes and rides, and the fence builder. If that last one comes as a surprisingly odd highlight to you, don’t underestimate it. The fence builder was actually a primary cause for one of the delays earlier in development.
“People are very passionate about their fences. So are we. Our fencing tool will be improved, allowing you to place fences more quickly, and align them exactly how you want.”
That is a direct quote from Atari back in November 2015. Of course, Atari cited other issues – such as bugs, memory leaks, and optimization issues – but nonetheless, the fence builder has been held back beyond the initial early access release! This had better be the best fence builder RCT fans have ever seen!
In all seriousness, though, the plan for Early Access did cause some concern for those who preordered the game expecting a full retail release. Anyone who placed an order from either Atari.com or RollerCoasterTycoon.com will be able to request a refund, no questions asked, through March 31, 2016. This gives everyone who preordered a day to check out Steam Early Access and decide whether or not they want to continue to fund the project in its new form. Anyone who preordered through Steam or another retailer has the ability to opt out as well, only through their companies’ respective policies.
Last comes the official retail street date. At this time, Atari has decided not to set one and instead focus on improving the game as much as possible during Early Access.
“We will be in Early Access until we all feel the game is ready to be shared with the world as a finished product. Yes, there really is much more work we want to do. This is not about just improving and polishing but also adding new functionalities that the game needs. As Early Access progresses our timeline for final release will become clearer.”
At some point, Atari plans on a physical release in stores even before the game has an ‘official launch.’ However, this physical copy will still be exactly the same as what is purchased on Steam and, thus, requires the same authentication and updates as what is purchased directly through Steam. Think of it as being similar to the cards that could be bought for “Minecraft” in retail stores, despite the game still being in Beta at the time. The product itself will be no different; it merely offers an alternative venue to purchase the game.
If you want to get your hands on “RollerCoaster Tycoon World as early as possible, though, you will have to preorder it through steam. You can then pre-download the game and start playing as soon as possible come March 30, 2016.