The original Frostpunk exploded onto the scene in 2018, a city-builder developed in Warsaw by 11-bit Studios that tasked players with not only building a thriving city but keeping its inhabitants from freezing to death during a volcanic winter. Players would have to scout around their cities as well in order to claim resources and survivors, all while battling against a persistent reminder of the cold that threatened humanity with extinction.
Now, in Frostpunk 2, the team is looking to take the challenge of the first game and expand upon it – the frozen hellscape still presents a clear danger. Still, their goal was to generate additional obstacles for the player from within the civilization they were creating.
The new game will focus heavily on the political challenges of running a city operating on the brink of collapse (and demise), with different factions and political parties all competing to have it their own way. Players will now have to juggle the conflicting desires of their people to survive, and as in any good decision-making game, there will rarely be a clear right and wrong answer.
In the preview build, I watched the developers play through; I saw them navigate a precarious situation that weighed the dangers of putting children into manual labor positions against the health risks of not having enough workers to treat the city’s water. While obviously, the “ethical” choice would be to ensure that children are kept out of danger at all costs, that leaves a significant deficit in something as crucial as ensuring the city isn’t using contaminated water.
The player may be the leader of this civilization, able to make the preliminary decision, but I then saw the various factions reacting in different ways and trying to sway the situation towards their own interests. Each scenario the player could face in their run spreads out into a web of complications, and it’s still not as simple as just picking one side over the other.
The council system was shown extensively, with the player needing to use their influence in order to gain victory for their chosen side. As silly as the comparison is, it reminded me a bit of how the Dark Assembly works in Disgaea, albeit with opposing teams and much more at stake.
And, of course, all of this is still in the background of a heavy-challenge city-building sim that looks to be a lot more free-form this time around. Not a whole lot was shown of the minutiae of city construction, but it still looks to include all of the same difficulties as the original, amped-up as would befit a sequel.
I don’t know who played Frostpunk and thought, “I like this, but I wish it were even harder,” but that seems to be the intended audience for Frostpunk 2, and I’m pretty confident that 11-bit Studio has another indie hit on its hands, provided it can keep them warm enough to keep playing.
Frostpunk 2 is set to launch on PC through Steam in 2024.
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