In a number of months it will be 5 complete years since survival metropolis builder Frostpunk was launched, difficult gamers to construct a working metropolis in a freezing post-apocalyptic world and thoroughly handle the society taking refuge inside its borders. 

And whereas we wait to listen to when Frostpunk 2 will arrive (fingers crossed for 2023) it is attention-grabbing to take a look at the town builders which have been popping out extra not too long ago, and what number of of them might have been impressed by Frostpunk’s mix of story-driven administration, society simulation, and survival programs.

We’re in a little bit of a metropolis constructing increase lately, which is thrilling. Whereas Fraser precisely identified that nobody appears to be gunning for Cities: Skylines’ city metropolis builder crown, that is left loads of room for all method of totally different sorts of metropolis builders. We’re seeing metropolis constructing video games that happen on the backside of the ocean, in outer area, on the edges of mountains, on the backs of big creatures, and even on a fantasy ringworld populated by cube.

There’s often one thing occurring in these video games in addition to simply constructing fairly cities, managing cash and assets, and easily ensuring there are extra completely happy faces than frowny ones within the civilian inhabitants. There are echoes of Frostpunk’s programs in so, so many current metropolis builders.


One of many earliest buildings you may unlock in Frostpunk is the beacon, a tethered sizzling air balloon that may stand up above the town permitting a lookout to identify locations of curiosity far past the central generator. Scouts can then journey out into the world to discover new areas (which regularly result in the invention of even further-flung areas) and return utilizing the beacon as a guide. 

Typically these expeditions offer you not simply extra assets however narrative decisions, additional selections to make, and loads of stress whilst you wait to see how issues play out. Expeditions additionally excel at making you are feeling like your metropolis is only a small a part of a a lot bigger world going down offscreen.

The Wandering Village (Picture credit score: Stray Fawn)

I have been completely happy to see extra metropolis builders embody programs just like Frostpunk’s expeditions, to permit us to peek past our personal borders. In The Wandering Village, where you construct a settlement on the again of an enormous, lumbering, dinosaur-like creature, you are in a position to ship scavengers out into the world as your mighty beast slowly stomps via it. Scavenging is not simply pleasurable and helpful, it may be completely essential—since your metropolis is on the move, it could wander into biomes missing sure assets and gathering additional provides is extremely essential to survival.

I have never performed Ixion myself but, nevertheless it’s set in outer area on a large touring area station. Together with the inside and exterior views of the station, there’s additionally a star system map, and as soon as you’ve got constructed shuttles you may ship them out to analyze and discover the photo voltaic programs the station visits, gathering provides and managing encounters. 

Ixion (Picture credit score: Bulwark Studios)

That feels similar to Frostpunk’s expeditions. Aquatico, the undersea metropolis builder arriving in January, additionally has expeditions. You can construct submarines and use them to discover the ocean round your settlement, which may embody new sources of essential supplies and doubtlessly even undiscovered sorts of ocean life.

Actual world politics and insurance policies

Frostpunk is not nearly constructing a functioning metropolis, however managing the society inside its borders. Maintaining residents completely happy is not something new to metropolis builder video games—usually, it is the overarching aim, or individuals will move away and the town will fail—however society administration and the insurance policies and legal guidelines you may go in Frostpunk felt deeper and at instances troublingly actual. It explored programs like youngster labor, propagana, censorship, and authoritarianism. That is a far cry from deciding what sort of ads you may placed on blimps in Cities: Skylines.

We noticed extra of these real-world insurance policies in survival metropolis builder Floodland, which launched in November. Floodland is about in a world devastated by local weather change, and incorporates choices to enact social insurance policies which are shockingly acquainted to us following the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents in Floodland can contract airborne ailments and to fight their unfold you may enact insurance policies like mask-wearing, social distancing, and even lockdowns.

Floodland (Picture credit score: Ravenscourt)

Metropolis builder Urbek, which focuses on utilizing pure assets as a substitute of cash as a solution to construct a functioning metropolis, has different examples of social insurance policies like decreasing work hours in your labor forces (unsurprisingly, this makes individuals happier, and it will be good if the actual world would take notice) and producing higher high quality meals. (On the opposite finish of the spectrum, you should use bugs as a meals source. This positively does not make individuals completely happy, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a viable resolution to meals shortages.)

Making you an precise particular person

One purpose I are inclined to drift away from technique video games like Civilization is that I by no means actually really feel a connection between myself and what’s occurring on this planet. That is why one of many few technique video games I’ve actually gotten sucked into was Crusader Kings 2, as a result of not solely does it simulate a large world full of nations and other people and occasions, however extra private programs. I’ve a personality, who has a character, attributes, flaws, a household, and all the private drama surrounding these issues (like when my son falls in love with my aunt and so they type assassination plot towards me).

Whereas I get pleasure from metropolis builders like Cities: Skylines, I’ve a little bit of the identical problem. I do not actually need to be a god making selections from the sky, I need to really feel like I am part of the town, too. A resident. Frostpunk did an excellent job at making me really feel like I used to be actually there, particularly as a result of if individuals acquired too sad they might merely take away me from energy and kick my butt out into the snow. Ixion takes an analogous method, casting you because the short-term supervisor of the area station till all the pieces goes incorrect and also you’re compelled into an important management place. As with Frostpunk, in the event you do a poor sufficient job you are eliminated out of your place. 

Medieval town

Manor Lords (Picture credit score: Slavic Magic)

It is an effective way to really feel some connection between your self and the individuals you are lording over.

The upcoming Manor Lords, which had a wonderful playable demo (and hopefully can have one other one quickly) thought up an particularly enjoyable solution to make you are feeling extra like an actual particular person than a deity sitting behind a keyboard: you would truly spawn your self into the village and stroll round in third-person mode. It is a small contact—you could not actually work together with anybody—nevertheless it’s an effective way to really feel some connection between your self and the individuals you are lording over. 

It is an thrilling time to be a metropolis builder fan, with a lot of new video games popping out now from the massive to the very small, and it is much more thrilling to see them rising into experiences that transcend simply plopping down buildings and connecting them with roads. Whereas we wait to see what Frostpunk 2 delivers, it is good to see the unique Frostpunk remains to be having an affect, practically half a decade later.