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Two Point Studios are back again with another management sim, Two Point Campus, this time swapping hospital scrubs and patients for university students and classrooms. First announced back in June 2021, the game has been a long time coming, and will now be released in August 2022. Ahead of then, I went hands-on with the upcoming title and sat down with its creative director Gary Carr and art director Mark Smart to chat about all things Two Point Campus.
The first-build I played contained two levels: Freshleigh Meadows - a countryside college on the banks of a canal - and Piazza Lanatra, which features culinary students attempting to stomach the perils of fine dining.
Players familiar with Two Point Hospital will feel right at home with Campus, with the same UI making a return, allowing for easy navigation around the menus. Newcomers to the series will quickly learn the basics in the tutorial level Freshleigh Meadows, so there’s nothing to worry about there. Two Point Campus is jam-packed with new creative tools to help you build the university of your dreams - and for the first time players can customise outdoor areas, placing trees, benches and fountains.
The academic year is crucial, not just in real life but also in Two Point Campus. This refreshing take on the calendar year sets Two Point Hospital and Campus apart, and introduces new thought processes when managing your campus. I put this to Gary Carr to explain further:
GB: How important is the academic year in Two Point Campus? Obviously, it's different to having patients walking through the door all year round?
GC: So the first year is your freshers year, they’re in their dorms, they’re going to maybe join the odd society; you then go to year two; and then you get into your graduation year. So you kind of want to get them socialising early on, forming friend groups so they stick around. But towards the third year you want to focus on their academic side, you need to get their grades to pass. Keep in mind that you’ll be juggling after three years of gameplay - first years (freshers), intermediate and people in their graduation year - so you’ve got this constant slightly different flavour between your year groups.
During the summer period, you get the chance to make some serious improvements to your campus: you can level up courses, add new facilities, hire staff, build new buildings and more. While you can improve facilities all year round, it’s worth waiting for the downtime between years to make drastic improvements, to ensure you have the support network in place for your students.
Courses are really important in Two Point Campus, too! Without these, what's the point in going to university! Players unlock courses in a linear fashion throughout the game,. and once you’ve unlocked them you’ll be able to implement them in any of your campuses.
In Two Point Campus, the balance between academic and social activities is paramount. Offer too many social options and your students will flake, causing them to fail their studies.
GB: How important is it to find the right balance between social and academic activities in Two Point Campus?
GC: Very important! It is kind of 50/50, so there is a balancing act. Sometimes I just want to please them all the time - I want to give them gigs, I want have stupid parties in the rooms, I want to go to societies and groups. Then you've still got this timetable, you know, the actual academic side, and you make sure you've got to the best of both worlds, really, because you do need them to stay. But if you overload them with the education side, they start to get fed up and will potentially start to wane.
If they stay, you get paid; if they leave, then you lose that revenue. Obviously if they have too much fun their grades suffer. It's sort of this tension you are constantly fiddling around with. I promise that as laborious as it might sound, because you enjoy doing both things, we’ve made the education quite fun as well. You can build giant robots in the game, and see a robot grow up into this huge skyscraper-size thing. That’s fun - but you obviously enjoy parties and forming relationships, too.
Two Point Campus oozes charm and character, in the same way Two Point Studios nailed 2018’s Two Point Hospital, the spiritual successor to Theme Hospital. It features the same tongue-in-cheek humour that players loved in Two Point Hospital, from funny tannoy announcements around the campus to laughable course options you wish you had back when you went to university. And visually it’s a delight, too, something art director Mark Smart explains more about:
GB: Two Point Hospital has such a charming visual style which is incredibly satisfying to look at, is this something that has been refined or enhanced in any way in Two Point Campus?
MS: We wanted to make it a lot more granular this time. We really want people to care about the students themselves, so they’ve got facial expressions this time - they had very rudimentary ones in Hospital - and [there are also added] interactions between students with relationships. We just want that aspect of you following a student around and seeing how they are interacting with the environment, so we’ve really tried to push that in Campus.
Two Point Campus has a much deeper connection with NPCs, you really get to know each one on an individual level, especially when you are starting out and only have a handful of students. You need to keep them happy with clubs, societies and gigs; you must grow friendship groups and implement pastoral care. It’s up to you whether their every need is catered to, but beware that giving them everything might well distract students from their academic work.
Two Point Campus is an extremely fun and extensive business management sim, with the same charm and character we have come to expect from a Two Point game. It puts a unique spin on an education environment with plenty for players to enjoy come release. Two Point Campus was due to release in May, however SEGA have announced a small delay, allowing for further optimisation for all platforms, and the game will now release on August 9th for PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 and 5. We’ve all been given an extension, then - but don’t be late for class.
Featured Image Credit: Two Point Campus / Credit: SEGA
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