Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park Preview | Nostalgia with substance

The upcoming Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park DLC takes players, well, back to Jurassic Park. Seven new story missions have you returning to Isla Nublar just after the events of the first movie, and you’ll also visit Isla Sorna from The Lost World: Jurassic Park for good measure.

Jurassic World Evolution Executive Producer Rich Newbold took me through a walkthrough of Return to Jurassic Park highlighted the vast changes and additions that come with the DLC. He played through the first and sixth mission to show the changes to basic building. We also got to see Jurassic World Evolution’s first flying dinosaur, the Pteranodon, and the fan-favorite Compsognathus.

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park Preview | Spinning back the clock

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The first mission in the Return to Jurassic Park DLC brings you back to Isla Nublar shortly after the events of the first movie. Your objective is to reopen the park, which is spearheaded by Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and for the first time in Jurassic World Evolution, Sam Neill and Laura Dern will be voicing Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler.

Because the DLC is set in the early 1990s, this DLC is a bit of a total conversion. The HUD, inventory, dinosaurs, buildings, and even the guest’s clothing reflects the time period of the original movie. Gone are the sterile buildings of Jurassic Park World. Instead, your park has that jungle/tiki motif the original film is known for.

Rich also showed me the myriad of new dinosaur skin options available with the DLC. If you want the Raptors to look like they did in Jurassic Park, you’ve got it. There are multiple new skins for the dinosaurs that replicate their looks in the original film and The Lost World. Even the film grain effect is different to match the feel of a video from the early 1990s.

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park Preview | More than a pretty face.

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As he was taking me through the first mission, Rich pointed out the pains that the development team took to ensure Return to Jurassic Park wasn’t just skin deep. The DLC makes fundamental changes to the building and cloning processes that will keep you on your toes.

Rich said the team looked for ways to logically adapt the game mechanics to the Isla Nublar setting. Part of this is that certain functionalities have been switched to other buildings. The iconic Visitor Center plays the role of dig site management and research center, while the helipad is now the primary means of entrance to your park. Guests are flown in via helicopter, and dinosaurs are as well. Instead of incubating dinosaurs via a Creation Lab, your cloning facilities are kept on Isla Sorna. Once a dino is ready to go, it’ll be flown into its enclosure.

The way guests enjoy your dinos has changed in the DLC as well. Instead of building paths and viewing areas, you have to construct tour tracks. Like in the original film, jeeps run along these tracks, allowing visitors to see the exhibits from multiple angles. Charting out your tours can be a challenge. Guests will enjoy tracks that run through exhibits instead of around them, but you have to keep in mind that some dinosaurs will attack these jeeps leading to some very angry (or deceased) patrons.

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park Preview | When nature calls.

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Return to Jurassic Park also brings two new completely new buildings to Jurassic World Evolution. You’ll now need to build restrooms as a new guest need. It’s just not a park management game without your visitors constantly telling you they need to go to the bathroom, and with this addition Jurassic World Evolution finally feels complete.

On a much cooler note, you also get access to the Aviary. In mission 6, you’ll need to expand your menagerie to include the Pteranodon. However, this flying dino needs a special enclosure, which you must build in order to house them.

In addition to the two key additions above, there are a ton of new scenery items to use alongside the retro buildings. You can really make Isla Nublar comes to life almost exactly the way it does in the movie which is going to make fans of the game and the Jurassic Park series thrilled.

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park Preview | Have it your way

Of course, if you ever want to go back to the original Jurassic World Evolution looks and gameplay, that’s possible as well. The upcoming DLC patch will also add restrooms and an aviary with aesthetics matching the base game’s buildings.

Being able to switch between the base game and the Return to Jurassic Park DLC, along with the new missions and the vast array of changes, both cosmetic and otherwise, makes this feel more like an expansion.

This DLC is an ambitious project and is a love letter to Jurassic Park lovers everywhere. Return to Jurassic Park requires the Jurassic World Evolution base game (it’s not a standalone), and you can purchase it on December 10 for 19.99 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.