Prepare to get up close and personal with the tiny people of Two Point County, because the latest game in the simulation series is going to add a whole new dimension to the management mayhem. In Two Point Campus, you'll be able to focus right in on any one of your students to monitor not only their academic achievements but whether or not they're living, laughing, and loving too.
"Here we're kind of worrying about educating them – of course, because that's the Campus bit – but that social side, their happiness, is just as important," says Mark Webley, one of the founders of Two Point Studios. "Anyone that went to college or university doesn't just say 'I had some really great lecturers', they talk about the parties and the relationships they had. And we wanted to get into that more than we had done in Two Point Hospital."
School of life
As the boss of Two Point Campus, you'll be busy trying to make your academic institution attractive to fee-paying knowledge seekers, because the more tiny minds you can shape (or wring dry of cash with fees) means more applicants and bigger and better facilities for your college. Your students will need teaching, feeding, housing, and entertaining, and all the staff and services it takes to make those things happen. You'll face invasions by rival schools, outbreaks of bookworms, and students who are doing more partying than poring over books. Of course, good results are key, so it's vital your class is coming out with the kind of grades that their moms will brag about for decades.
You can expect all the same hiring and firing, building, maintaining, and budget-balancing that made Two Point Hospital such a compelling world to rule over, but now you need to worry if Tim the class clown is ever going to get together with that goth girl he likes and if he's even going to pass his Robotics class. It all sounds a lot more complicated than Two Point Hospital, but at least when it comes to Two Point Campus there are fewer scenarios where the corridors will end up full of ghosts and corpses.
"With Two Point Hospital, it was difficult to care enough about patients because they weren't there long enough," explains Gary Carr, co-founder of Two Point Studios.
"Now the students are going to become really familiar. You're going to see them develop and in some cases fail. It's about trying to get you to care about them so that they don't fail and to try and see what the problem is. In some cases it could be a relationship problem, it could just be that they're not fitting in or they're not happy with that course. You'll be able to take time to nurture and hopefully pull them through the process."
Lessons in love
This isn't The Sims though. You don't have direct control over the little people of Two Point Campus, so you'll need to create the right environment to help them succeed. That doesn't mean you can just lock your students in a room with their textbooks and a box of Pop-Tarts and hope for the best. For instance, if your favorite student is lonely, you can influence their world by putting on events for them to meet people or decorate your dorms and corridors with items that encourage socializing, like a two-player arcade machine.
"You're putting on events for people to get together, to try to meet people, and then for them to develop their relationships and get to the next level. So there are some more romantic items like a rose garden..." says Webley, as Carr chimes in.
"We tried to sort of desexualize it all," Carr adds. "So there's a weird one, which is a bubble machine, which seems to make them get romantically inclined as well. It's just really about friend groups, really having people who can keep your students interested enough to get up in the morning.
"So there's a bit of group behavior – if you can get it right – which actually helps you not have to manage every single person in the school. Because you might start with a school year of only, say, 10 pupils. But as you get through the game, you multiply that significantly."
Of course, this all comes with a hearty side of humor, the same dad joke japes that made Two Point Hospital a delight to play even when you were killing patients and plunging into debt. This time around, Two Point Studios has played with the stereotypes cemented in our brains by movies and TV – expect to see goths, posh toffs in tailcoats, jocks, and greasers roaming your halls. The lessons aren't the usual English or Economics either, students can study Robotics, make giant profiteroles in Gastronomy, or join Knight School and run around in armor. There's no Euphoria-level drama either, as the most dangerous substance abuse your students will commit will be hitting the milkshake keg too hard.
In fact, the drama was at Two Point Studios over one of the changes that has been made to the formula; whether or not to give players more freedom over the look and aesthetics of their buildings and grounds. "Mark and I always have a big row on every game about something," reveals Carr. "Customization was one where I was just worried that if you give people more customization – which I love – that they would lose sort of track of the game because they've been making a lovely garden or something."
Luckily the studio found a solution to allow them to add all the new in-depth creative tools to allow players to really make their campuses their own, without worrying about them neglecting the actual students. "When you get to the end of the academic year, it kind of goes into this holiday time, and we turn the clock off. So you can stay in summer mode until you're ready to go back into the next year." That time also allows you to change your course offerings, fiddle around with the figures and, yes, get obsessed with making your new wing look like Hogwarts or getting your ornamental pathways to curve just right.
Two Point Studios has proven it can build management simulations for more than one type of player, so whether you're in it for the accessible antics, deep dives into profit and loss, or just want to spend hours making your college look pretty, there's something for you here. "I think great thing is, I think we've got a game where if you're not hardcore, you'll enjoy it. And if you're quite hardcore, you'll enjoy it," promises Carr. "It should feel like you're mastering the game to whatever level you play to."
Two Point Campus will be released on PC, Nintendo Switch PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Series X/S on May 17, and you can pre-order (to secure some bonus in-game items) from today.