If you, like me, geek out at dinosaurs, then you would have probably watched Jurassic Park. When the movie came out, I was absolutely fascinated by the sheer amount of dinosaurs in the movie. Just like Alan Grant, my jaw dropped when I saw the might of the T-Rex, the dexterity of raptors and many more. With the latest advancements in AR/VR technology and the power of smartphones, Jurassic World Alive brings back your favourite dinosaurs to life and uses them in real (virtual) combat.
Developed by Ludia Inc., Jurassic World Alive was released for both Android and iOS on the 22nd of May 2018. While the actual game is to be released on the 30th of May 2018, Jurassic World Alive was rumoured since early 2018 and those interested (like myself) had the chance to pre-register for the game.
As soon as I got the notification that the game was available for download, I stopped what I was doing and proceeded to download it. Ever excited to see what the game was about, I charged my phone fully and then launched the game.
Setting things up
Jurassic World Alive is a free to play game. It also offers a subscription model for $9.99 for those who want extra features. I’ll talk about those features later on. For now, I was excited to try out the base game. Starting off, Jurassic World Alive offers to link to both your Google Play account and optionally, your Facebook account as well.
Once all that was set up, I was given a brief walkthrough of the game. It is here that I found out how Jurassic World Alive actually works. Similar to other AR games such as Pokémon Go and Draconius Go, Jurassic World Alive lets you explore the real world. Using the Google Maps API, Jurassic World Alive essentially recreates your actual surroundings including roads, byroads, parks and open areas and renders them in the game as well.
Exploring Jurassic World Alive
I take on a role as a brand-new member of the Dinosaur Protection Group (DPG). Following the story of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, dinosaurs have fled Jurassic World which was on the island of Isla Nublar. They have instead decided to make the local neighbourhood their home. So as a member of the DPG, it is my mission to save these giant reptiles from a second extinction.
Whilst walking around the map I came across a number of dinosaurs. I also came across a number of supply drops. With regard to dinosaurs, just like Pokémon GO and Draconius GO, they have to be captured to be added to your collection. This is done by collecting their DNA samples by means of a drone.
Each successful hit on the dinosaur gives you DNA samples. Score enough DNA samples and you can recreate that dinosaur for your own collection. From there, I had to incubate the DNA into an egg which was hatched via an incubator and voila, I had a brand new dinosaur. Any additional DNA that is collected from dinosaurs of the same type can be used to evolve your dinosaur further, increasing its stats making it stronger for battle. Once dinosaurs reach a particular level, their DNA can be fused together to create stronger hybrid dinosaurs (Indominus Rex, anyone?).
As for supply drops, these can be accessed by clicking the stop and spinning the crate. The rewards from these supply boxes include in-game cash and coins and also darts. The darts are what’s used to shot at dinosaurs to collect their DNA. If you don’t have any darts, you will not be able to collect any DNA. So make sure you visit at least one supply crate during your day.
Getting into the game
The app interface for Jurassic World Alive has 5 buttons. The first one is an Incubator that is available every 5 hours. It gives you free supplies such as money, darts and even rare dino DNA if you’re lucky. The collection button next to it is where you can manage all the dinosaurs you have. You can view their stats, evolve them and create hybrids if required. In addition, you can also manage your battle deck as well. Yes, I said battle deck. Jurassic World Alive actually has a PvP combat mode where you can go against real-world players in order to prove that you’re the very best.
The map is the next button in the interface. This takes you to the real world in-game map where you can walk around, collect dinosaur DNA and spin supply crates. Depending on the spawn distance of the dinosaur, you can either reach it from your current location or you will have to travel towards it. If the dinosaur is very close to you, then getting DNA from it via the drone is relatively easy. However, the further away the dinosaur is, the more battery is consumed by the drone, meaning you have limited time to aim your shots towards the dinosaur.
Catching Dinos comes at a cost
If a dinosaur is out of reach of the drone, you have the option to sign up for a monthly subscription to Jurassic World Alive. Costing USD 9.99, the subscription gives your drone 33% more battery and also increases its range by 33% as well. Further, if you run out of darts, you can either spend in-game cash and buy darts, or use real-world cash to then top up your virtual cash after which you can purchase darts.
Depending on your area, you can have anywhere from 1-10 dinosaurs spawning at any given time. If you have experience in playing Pokémon Go and Draconius Go, then it will not be surprising that you have to do your fair share of walking in order to explore and encounter dinosaurs. If you are more of the stay-at-home type, you will probably encounter around 1-2 dino spawns at your location.
Battling with the best of them
This was what excited me the most. As mentioned above, Jurassic World Alive has a PvP mode that pits your team of dinosaurs against similarly skilled players. You are given a battle deck of 8 dinosaurs. What 8 you choose are up to you. Once you choose 8, 4 of them are randomly picked for battles.
Battles are turn-based. Each dinosaur has 2-3 abilities that do damage, lessen opponent damage or stun enemy dinosaurs. In addition, each dinosaur also has a charge attack that can be used once every few turns. Dinosaurs are categorized into Carnivore, Herbivore, Pterosaur and Amphibian. Each type is strong against its preceding type but is also weak to its previous type. So it’s up to you to create a battle deck that takes into account types, weaknesses and moves in order to dominate your opponent.
If you feel that your deck is performing poorly, you can go back to the drawing board and remake your deck. You can also search for dinosaur DNA that you can use to power up your dinosaurs or even create stronger hybrids.
My experience with Jurassic World Alive
Overall, Jurassic World Alive looks to be quite a promising. The sheer fact that I can put my knowledge of dinosaurs to use is a major plus point. Since I travel and do my fair share of walking, Jurassic World Alive has become my go-to app since the date it was released.
For the few days I’ve played it, I’ve actually got out of my house at around 10 PM or even later, simply because an Allosaurus spawned on the lane next to mine. I even walked to the junction which is about a kilometre away, just because a Velociraptor spawned and I needed one to level up my existing raptor. Having watched my fair share of Dinosaur documentaries from childhood, it’s quite a thrilling experience to encounter them in real (virtual) life.
The turn-based ability battle system and the levelling up of dinos is also a nice touch, very reminiscent of a few major games. This was an element that previous AR games sadly lacked.
Does Jurassic World Alive live up to the hype?
That question is a little difficult to answer. For starters, even though the game was made available a couple of days ago, the actual launch is scheduled for the 30th of May, so it’s a bit early to call judgement.
That being said, while the game does work as intended, there are a few shortcomings. For example, dinosaur spawns are unbalanced with my best friend in Kandy having dinosaurs spawning outside her house every 10 minutes or so, whereas I have 1-2 spawns every 2-3 hours. The AR mode is pretty cool as well. What disappointed me was that in order to use the AR mode to share your dinosaur collection, you need to have an Android device that is compatible with ARCore. This means that only flagships and certain high-end devices would be able to use this feature.
In addition, in order to get ahead in the game, Ludia Inc seems to be relying a lot on micro (and not so) microtransactions. This is especially prominent when I run out of darts to capture DNA samples. I have to either visit a lot of supply crates or use in-game cash to refill the darts.
There is still hope
Hopefully, once the game is actually launched, perhaps the developers can increase the spawns of dinosaurs to balance things out. At the same time, they could also work on increasing the amount of darts that can be collected from supply crates, especially if like me, you tend to walk or take the bus and play on the go.
However, for a game that has to go against the bar set by ever-popular games like Pokemon GO, Jurassic World Alive performs admirably well considering it’s still in a beta stage. The differences from the other games set it apart and I already found a growing fan base that runs after dinosaurs shooting darts at all times of the day.
Have you tried Jurassic World Alive? Love it? Hate it? Leave a comment below.