TierZoo is one of the most creative and brilliant ideas for an educational web series I have ever seen. It’s a zoology web series that analyzes animals and their “skill trees” and “stats” as if they were characters you could choose from in a video game. The series also gives each species a tier rank from garbage F builds to food chain-dominating A and S tiers. I’m sure many of you aren’t convinced that zoology and video games are a perfect combination just yet, but after you’ve watched a few episodes you will quickly find out just how brilliant this idea is for a web series. TierZoo is a wonderful non-fiction web series that will teach you about animals, “biomes” (like the arctic “server”), and “patches” (geological periods), while also keeping you entertained with an almost endless supply of video game jokes.
TierZoo‘s YouTube channel has been live for less than a year and a half but already has over one million subscribers. It’s easy to see why, the concept of the series is brilliant and a wonderful way to teach zoology to those interested in the subject. It isn’t just an entertaining concept, it also makes perfect sense as grading animals via video game statistics actually works extremely well. Pretty much everything about animals and their abilities can be broken down into the six build stats TierZoo uses: intelligence, power, defense, mobility, HP, and stealth. Add up a creature’s stats in each category and you can pretty much tell whether they are going to be a good “build” to play as or a poor one that is constantly griefed by animals that are higher up the food chain. When an animal has a special ability or “move” that doesn’t neatly fit into one of those six categories (like the abilities cats and dogs use to make us love them), the host makes sure to make special mention of it and factors them into his tier rankings as well. The series is usually presented from a video game character creation standpoint (in the great game of “Outside”). For example, if you decide to play as a tiger, would your build be able to hold up to the meta and keep you safe? For less dominating animals, will you be able to carve yourself out a niche or will you constantly be in danger from other players?
TierZoo attempts to educate viewers about animals while also entertaining them and I would say they do a great job of it. I’ve learned at least a few new things from each episode. I am often surprised by some of the picks for S and A class animals but the series always does a great job of explaining why they are so dominant and always manages to persuade me. The only negative I have in terms of the educational content is that because all episodes are in the 5-10 minute range and several different species are covered in each episode, that means that each animal is only covered for a minute or less. Some animals have gotten lengthier follow-up episodes but due to the shortness of the episodes, TierZoo isn’t really the most in-depth zoology series out there. It’s still educational but if you want to learn everything there is to know about certain animals, there are probably better YouTube series out there. However, if you are fine with learning a few neat tidbits about each animal and want to be entertained while learning, this is definitely the series for you.
While TierZoo is certainly educational, the best part of the web series is definitely the comedy. Every episode has at least a few new funny video game references (with Super Smash Bros., Pokemon, and Overwatch being the most commonly used). I thought that the video game references would start growing stale after a few episodes but I’ve watched every episode of the series released so far and the host is still coming up with funny and fresh references. However, at least for me, the funniest bits are the humorous animal videos the channel uses while talking about each species. Sometimes the footage is funny on its own but the host often adds funny text of the animals “chatting” with each other or “trolling” a creature that it defeated or successfully ran away from (for example, “get rekt scrub”). Some of the videos even turn into real-life “Pokemon battles” (with health bars and damage) or Overwatch play of the game montages. It doesn’t happen often, but TierZoo is especially hilarious when presented a terrible build like the water bear. There aren’t a lot of completely useless builds in the game of “Outside” but when there is, he isn’t afraid to lay into the species’ terrible choices. For example, the host notes that “water bears are basically resistant to…everything except for the things that would actually kill them. They’re kind of like Doomsday Preppers actually.”
One quick note, while the YouTube comments sections for most big channels are basically universally terrible to the point of being cancerous, I would actually suggest reading the comments section for TierZoo as the viewers play along with the concept. The highest rated comments are oftentimes hilarious and interesting questions about the game meta. It is easily the funniest comments section for any YouTube channel I’ve seen so far and comes highly recommended from me.
While not as in-depth as some other YouTube zoology/nature series, TierZoo offers a great combination of education and comedy. If you have even the slightest interest in the subject, I absolutely recommend TierZoo. It’s educational, interesting, and very entertaining to watch. I do wish episodes were a bit longer or broken up into multiple videos as I feel like more could be covered and it would still be very interesting but the shorter length does make for good short-form entertainment. However, you will still learn and laugh enough to make the series well worth your time.
Must-Watch Episodes: “Are Waterbears OP?,” “Cat vs. Dog: Best Support Class,” and “Are Humans OP?”
Watch TierZoo: YouTube
More Posts in This Series: #001: Down the Rabbit Hole <- Web Series You Should Watch: The Full List -> #003: ?
Let me know your thoughts on TierZoo in the comments section. Also, if you know about any high-quality web series you think I should check out for a potential post in this series, leave a comment and I’ll check it out.