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Frostpunk 2 preview: All the ways Frostpunk 2 kicked my ass

Frostpunk 2 preview: All the ways Frostpunk 2 kicked my ass

Frostpunk 2 wiped the floor with me, yet I still can't wait to play more

Frostpunk 2 is an upcoming city-building survival game that improves upon its predecessor in a number of ways, but it also doesn’t pull its punches.

When I sat down to play a few hours of 11 Bit Studio’s sequel, I was aware of the challenge the first game provided for its players, but as someone who plays practically nothing else other than soulslikes, I felt like I was more than capable of meeting that challenge head-on.

Take a look at Frostpunk 2 below.

I was dead wrong, Frostpunk 2 wiped the floor with me, teased me, laughed at me, and threw me out into the cold - and yet after my preview session had concluded, I was still ready for more.

To put it simply, Frostpunk 2 boils down to a game of putting out fires, but just as you extinguish one, another three set alight behind you. Then as you’re trying to put out those fires, someone runs in with a flamethrower and torches the whole building, and before you can make heads or tails of what’s going on, an angry mob has blamed you for the damages and is stringing you up outside.

Like any city-builder, your civilization depends on resources, but you can’t put those resources to use without a workforce, and you can’t have a workforce without homes, power, heat, medicine etc. You can either play the game as a sandbox and try to keep things running for as long as you can, or play through the story mode, which I’d recommend as it does a great job of teaching you the basics and introducing new mechanics.

The tagline for the first Frostpunk game was, “The city must survive,” as the real threat against your settlement’s survival was the cruel, unyielding force of nature. Now, 30 years have passed since the events of the first game, and that motto has changed to, “The city must not fall,” because this time around, it’s not the weather you’re fighting. It’s humanity.

Frostpunk 2-
11 Bit Studios

As the Steward of your community, the people look to you for guidance and leadership, and you’re given control of just about everything that goes on. This includes where your people will work, how they’ll work, expansion to other regions, and you’ll even pass laws that change how society functions.

All of this sounds incredible on paper, but when you’re thrown into the driver’s seat your blood will boil with the amount of stress you’re put under.

My first priority was acquiring a decent fuel source to keep the heating switched on - after all, we’re living in an arctic hellscape. As I solely focused on that, my people cried out for more food, so I added that to my to-do list. Once those two essential necessities were acquired, I looked at what else needed my attention, only to be met with a notification saying vandals had torn down one of the food depots… because they were bored.

As I was trying to harvest materials to build leisure items so people weren’t bored and destroying their only means of survival, I was told people had grown tired of my leadership and were going to vote me out of power if I didn’t change my ways. This forced me to make deals with the various social groups to get them back on side, promising them things I knew I couldn’t deliver but being voted out is game over so I figured why not?

Eventually I did get game over and had to restart from an earlier checkpoint, which you’d think would give me the advantage, but this is Frostpunk 2, and I don’t think advantage is in its vocabulary.

Frostpunk 2-
11 Bit Studios

After some time had passed and my civilization had evolved with a new research station, I was given more opportunities to exploit the mines for additional coal supplies while I looked for a more permanent solution. While I was experimenting with using dynamite or more advanced machinery, I was kindly informed that my city’s children had gone feral, perfectly illustrated by a picture of some very mean looking kids you wouldn’t want to bump into on a dark evening. My only options were to pass a law that’d prevent their bad behaviour, or let them continue stabbing each other and adults.

In the end, I sent the children into the mines, after all they do yearn for them. Unfortunately, at one point the mine collapsed so that didn’t really help my street cred with the rest of the community.

One last nightmare scenario I’d like to share was managing the health and wellbeing of my citizens. While the endless winter isn’t as much of a threat as it was in the first game, it can still throw a spanner into the works if you’re not prepared for it.

When the temperature drops, your citizens are more likely to become unwell, and if they’re unwell, they’re not working. This means keeping them healthy is vital for the success of society, as I very quickly discovered.

As I said before, my main resource to keep the power going was coal, but coal is finite and there’s only so much you can dig up before the vein runs dry. However, while I looked for other sources, I left my workers to dig, only to discover that one of the mining stations switched off because its workers had fallen ill. This happened to the other group as well, meaning no coal was being dug up, the generator was losing power, and the temperature was dropping.

Frostpunk 2-
11 Bit Studios

Then everyone started getting sick, including the ones in charge of the food, so then people started getting worse because they were going hungry. I was basically powerless to stop this, and at one point my workforce consisted of seven people and a dream, before I gave up, sat back in my chair and listened to my citizens wail “Steward!” knowing I could do nothing to fix it.

Frostpunk 2 demolished me at almost every turn, to the point where once I’d gotten the hang of things and my city was running like clockwork, I was just anxiously waiting for the game to throw me a curveball and knock down everything I’d built. When something goes wrong, it can quickly snowball into several more catastrophes, so you really need to be on the ball if you want to succeed.

Yet despite all of the hardship and complexities, I still came away from the preview feeling like I’d had a great time. While watching an entire community of people get wiped by your own mistakes is devastating, there was a weird element of comedy to it, like seeing everything fall apart, putting your hands up and saying, “Well, I did the best that I could do,” and sitting back to watch the fireworks.

From what I gathered, Frostpunk 2 didn’t feel like a game for casual players, but that’s definitely not a criticism. It knows that the majority of its audience will have come from the first game, and has expertly raised the stakes to provide a challenge to those who knew Frostpunk inside and out. However, it also ensures to leave out enough breadcrumbs so that new players don’t feel too frustrated with its gruelling gameplay.

Frostpunk 2 kicked my ass, yet I’m just itching to play more, and motivated to build a civilization in the cold that I can be proud of. The city must not fall, and by God I’m going to make sure it doesn’t.

Featured Image Credit: 11 Bit Studios

Topics: Preview, Steam, PC, Xbox, PlayStation