The sequel to the hugely successful Slime Rancher arrives in Xbox Game Preview and as part of Xbox Game Pass today with Slime Rancher 2, and to coincide with its release, we recently had a chance to speak to the CEO of developer Monomi Park about what players can expect from this highly anticipated follow-up.
Along with providing details about the game and plans for its future, we also got a little more insight into the team's decision to launch on Xbox Game Pass, as well as the reason for skipping a native Xbox One version this time around...
Pure Xbox: Hello! Firstly, could you introduce yourself and your role on the Slime Rancher 2 team?
Nick Popovich: Hello! I’m Nick Popovich, Co-Founder and CEO of Monomi Park, and Slime Rancher Series Director.
Pure Xbox: The first Slime Rancher has been a huge hit on Xbox - what can fans expect from the sequel?
Nick: The first thing you’ll notice when you play Slime Rancher 2 is the substantial graphical upgrade over the original. Our team worked very hard to develop a visual style, unlike any other game, featuring a beautiful pastel color palette like something out of a painting, or a dream, or a very dreamy painting. But it all still feels like the Slime Rancher you already love, just better.
Though we will be launching into Game Preview, there is already a big open world to explore however you choose, new slimes to wrangle, resources to collect, gadgets to build, and the beginnings of a mystery that you will solve further along in the future when Slime Rancher 2 is complete.
In future updates, we have a lot of new and exciting things planned that will change up how you play, as well as more worlds to explore and the slimes that come with them. We’re going to stay very busy!
Pure Xbox: Why did you decide to partner with Xbox Game Pass for Slime Rancher 2? How has the experience been working with Microsoft, and what are your thoughts on Game Pass in general?
Nick: Microsoft has always been a great partner for us and really seems to ‘get’ Slime Rancher so it was an easy decision for us. With Game Pass, I think it’s a great mechanism for especially smaller indies to reduce risk by taking a Game Pass deal, but for us, I think the model compliments our games, which we run a long time.
So, keeping up an active player base allows us to keep finding an audience as we release one content update after another over a period of years. In my opinion, one of the single best ads you can get for your game is those little notifications on each platform that tell you “Your Friend Jane is Now Playing Slime Rancher”. That’s hard to beat.
Pure Xbox: The setting for Slime Rancher 2 is Rainbow Island - can you explain what's different about this island compared to the first game?
Nick: Rainbow Island is intended to feel quite different from Slime Rancher’s corner of the Far, Far Range. The original was meant to have more of a dusty, old west vibe given that it was a story about frontier life and ranching (but also that necessitates a somewhat barren landscape which is perfect when I was responsible for the environment art in those early days!). Rainbow Island on the other hand is lush, colorful and feels much more like a magical island vacation.
There is a joy to Slime Rancher that was mainly expressed by the slimes in the original, but for Slime Rancher 2 we wanted that joy to be found in every corner of the world. And I think our team really delivered here. It’s a place that I personally just love to spend time in, even if I’m not really playing. I want to just lie in the prismatic grass and stare at the clouds.
Pure Xbox: Slime Rancher has come a long way over the past few years, so what have you learned over those years that helped you when building Slime Rancher 2?
Nick: In many ways, I had designed the original to try to produce moments of chaos and panic as you played as I thought that would make the game interesting for players. But after we released it, we soon came to realize that despite the game being able to produce these moments, most players played Slime Rancher as a means to relax and do things at their own pace. So, that has been a guiding principle for us since. Anything we add now, we try to lean into building on the experience but not in a way that will force the player to change how they’ve grown to enjoy playing the game. Everything needs to be able to be experienced at the pace the player chooses.
Pure Xbox: We know that Slime Rancher 2 will be Optimized for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. What can players expect on those consoles?
Nick: Xbox Series X players can expect up to 60fps in 4k (upscaled) and Series S players can expect up to 60fps in 1080p. However, keep in mind that we’re still in Game Preview and actively optimizing the experience, but also that these targets are always flexible given the nature of the game. Slime Rancher allows players to fill their ranches with slimes and gadgets beyond a level that is even practical, and you will see performance affected when you do. Just like Minecraft, you need to gauge these things a bit yourself, not unlike having a world filled with a lot of redstone or tons of monsters.
Pure Xbox: Could you explain why Slime Rancher 2 isn't getting a native Xbox One port this time around?
Nick: Slime Rancher 2 is exclusive to current-gen hardware because just like with Slime Rancher, we intend to develop it and add content to it for years to come, so by being current gen only it allows us to be future-proofed in a way and ensure that we can deliver the same quality to all our players throughout those years.
But beyond that, we’ve built an incredible team since we launched Slime Rancher 6 years ago, and there are all sorts of things that this new team wanted to try. It didn’t make sense to have them playing with the same tools that we developed years ago.
Pure Xbox: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to share for the Slime Rancher and Xbox fans out there?
Nick: I’d like to say thank you for all the incredible support we’ve received for Slime Rancher from Xbox players over the years. We’ve been blown away by the staggering number of hours we see clocked into the game every month and it makes us incredibly excited to know this new world will be receiving the same. I truly hope this world and the slimes within it bring you some joy, and I can’t wait to have you all join us on this journey as we develop Slime Rancher 2 through Game Preview and beyond. Stay wiggly!
We'd like to thank Nick for taking the time to talk to us. Slime Rancher 2 launches today (September 22nd) as part of Xbox Game Preview and Xbox Game Pass for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC and Xbox Cloud Gaming!