Park Beyond is just a month away from release when, finally, the general public can get their hands on Limbic Entertainment’s long-awaited theme park sim.
We’ve just had our third – and final – preview of Park Beyond. We’ve played through the first couple of levels of the game’s campaign, and we’ve dabbled in its excellent and deep roller coaster building mechanics. We’ve also dipped our toes into its sandbox mode before, but this latest preview build allowed us to explore it in more detail. And while Park Beyond‘s campaign, teaching you everything you need to know about creating a world-famous theme park alongside an entertaining story, is worth looking forward to, we think sandbox mode is where most players are going to flock to.
Of course, any good theme park sim needs a sandbox. Missions are fun and all, but the real joy of this sort of game is being let loose to create your own park with no barriers or obstacles. Well, you can have some obstacles if you want. There are multiple maps to choose from in sandbox mode, and various settings you can tweak. Opt for unlimited money, worry-free difficulty and no necessary upkeep if you simply want to focus on building the best park ever. Or give yourself a challenge if you want a goal to work towards.
We love that Limbic Entertainment has built in some gameplay challenges to sandbox mode. As much as any developer hopes players are going to flock to their campaign mode – the mode with the story and where its creative ideas have been poured – it knows that, in a game like this, a lot of players will simply want creative freedom straight away. And so, while Park Beyond suggests you begin with its campaign, it accepts that you might not.
Sandbox mode’s ‘Exploration Park’ is the answer. Here, you’ve got unlimited money and a basic park to make your mark on. You can go wild straight away, doing whatever you want to the unlocked area, if that’s your style. But dotted around the park are signposts to interact with, each with a small task to complete. They vary in scope. One might ask you to place some benches around the park. Another might ask you to fix a path. Eventually, you’ll be asked to build a roller coaster. As you complete more of these goals, more of Exploration Park opens up to you.
It feels like a campaign in itself, and undoubtedly we’ve played simulation games with main story modes that equate to less than this. But considering that this is in addition to Park Beyond‘s incredibly fleshed-out campaign, it’s a really nice touch. It doesn’t hold your hand, but guidance is there if you want it. It’s a happy medium between making your way through heavy tutorials and learning the ropes yourself – and we can imagine many players will get a huge kick out of that type of in-game teaching.
Ticking off Exploration Park’s to-do items is a thrill, but it’s the way they’re perfectly blended into standard sandbox play that we love. You can ignore them if you want, focusing on other areas. But if you’re task-oriented, seeing the red ‘!’ signposts turn to green ticks is exceedingly pleasing.
Of course, there’s much more to Park Beyond‘s sandbox mode than Exploration Park. That’s just the beginning. It’s the ideal way to get started, outside of the main campaign, but once you’ve learned the ropes, Park Beyond really is your oyster. There are more than 20 sandbox maps to choose from, all providing unique environments to build a park in. And with settings that can be tinkered to your specific needs and wants – as easy or hard as you like; as open-ended or challenge-oriented – it’s everything you could possibly want from a theme-park building sandbox mode.
We can’t wait to play more of Park Beyond when it lands next month. But with the hands-on time we’ve had so far, we’re confident in saying that it’s going to be the theme park sim lots of us have been waiting for. There’s been a drought in the genre for some years, but Park Beyond is about to change that.
Park Beyond is coming to PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC on 16th June. A closed beta is happening on 9th May: sign up here to try it out for yourself.