Frostpunk does so much that they open up possibilities to do even more. It certainly doesn’t match the level of intricacy and micro-management implemented in city simulators like Cities: Skylines. However, even with the limited environment and scenario presented in the game, a lot more can be added. While playing the different modes including the primary story mode, we realised that the game holds massive potential to take things to the next level. Here are the five things that Frostpunk can implement in the game.
For starters, wages could bring in a completely new element into the game. Currently, you can view the economy of your city and how the expenses are being utilised. It gives you an idea about the resources you’re collecting or have collected and whether they’re enough. If the gathering speed isn’t enough to sustain the expenditure then this tab will flag the relevant resource requiring your attention. This is definitely helpful to cautiously spend your resources but it would have been great if we could decide on the wages all the employees receive. Engineers receive the highest, followed by workers and finally children (if the Child Labour law is passed). With wages, the citizens will have the liberty to spend it on leisure activities which are already present in the game. These activities don’t really charge money since this particular element is absent.
All the buildings and technology upgrades currently cost only resources. Based on where the employees are working, the wages can be decided. For example, high-risk and technical jobs will offer the highest salaries while the menial ones will have the lowest. If the money mechanic is implemented, a central treasury can be formed by which all the expenditure is controlled. The Treasury decides the allocation of money on various technologies and sectors. Eventually, taxation can be implemented where more laws can be introduced. Imagine a scenario where the treasury is running low and you pass a law to suspend all forms of salaries temporarily. Based on the changes occurring in the wages, hope and discontent will be affected. The possibilities are endless in Frostpunk.
Building location consequences
The location of your buildings doesn’t affect anything. You can have a coal mine beside a residential building but there won’t be any consequences. Similarly, cemeteries can be built beside kitchens without any problems. This is another avenue where the game can expand. The way the game currently works is that you start off with the generator at the centre and continue building the city in concentric circles. Adjacent buildings can be anything and they would continue functioning without any problems. The only time proximity matters in Frostpunk is when you’re building certain structures like Steam Hubs, Watchtowers and others. To make it more realistic, the health element can be improved to make citizens susceptible to illnesses other than just the cold. Residential buildings shouldn’t be located near industrial buildings like the Coal Mine or Sawmill or Steelworks. Residents will fall ill and start taking up more beds in Medical Posts or Infirmaries. This will go on to affect the number of resources being used to heal them and naturally, go on as a chain of events.
Repealing and amending laws
Another area where the game can improve is the Book of Laws. The paths of these laws are interesting but what we didn’t like was that every law was permanent. There’s no way you can repeal a previously introduced law nor can you make amendments, something that is far more real. Among all the laws, we are pretty sure that the same idea must have occurred to the rest of the gamers as well, especially for child labour. Once you pass the law, you can’t take it back in the future when you have enough adult workers and engineers. There’s no backward path to the laws and the only next step to child labour is allowing their employment in all kinds of workplaces including risky environments. We agree that certain laws are connected to enabling the construction of particular buildings. In such cases, if the law is repealed, that particular building should simply stop functioning. For example, if you repeal the law of building Care Homes, then these buildings will be slowly abandoned. However, we wouldn’t expect Frostpunk to allow you to switch sides under the Purpose laws. Or maybe we do? Conclusively, we see huge improvements in the Book of Laws.
Attacking and defending cities
As a game exploring an apocalyptic scenario, things can get desperate. You are ruling the last city on Earth and people are pouring in to survive. The game could have smaller settlements or even cities located around you where people are also managing to survive. With the fight for survival, collecting resources will eventually turn aggressive. Since the game already includes a basic form of the military through the Order and Discipline purpose, it shouldn’t be difficult to justify some aggression to capture or loot resources from other settlements. Of course, you can be the benevolent kind and share resources or trade with others and even defend them from hostile survivors. However, with this approach, the game can expand further. More technologies will be available for upgrades to build your army who will protect and attack other cities for loot. You will obviously make these disturbing decisions based on how desperate you get to ensure that your people survive. Or you can collectively seek the ultimate goal of mankind’s survival only rather than killing off each other. After all, you wouldn’t want to mark the beginning of the new age of humans by committing various inhuman atrocities.
If other cities and settlements are added, Frostpunk will have the gameplay elements to implement multiplayer support in the future. With additional cities and settlements, whether real players or NPCs, it will be interesting when you capture enemies after these conflicts. Maybe Frostpunk can raise the stakes even higher by allowing you to pass a law enabling the employment of prisoners as slaves (to save money from the treasury) or integrate them into your city as normal waged employees. It will be your choice and your choice alone. We are open and supportive of additions that will force you to take harsher decisions to ultimately question your own morality.
In our full review of Frostpunk, we already spoke about how the decisions you take don’t really matter at the end. After winning, you’re given a summary of all the choices you made, sometimes trying to make you feel guilty about them. However, in the end, you’re just left with the final outcome which is victory or loss. Gamers might have been conflicted way early in the game when they have to choose whether Child Labour should be implemented. Every decision you take could be given a score at the end. Rather than just judging the player in big fonts, all the choices can be quantified to generate a final score. We know these choices can be subjective and they won’t have the same intensity of ruthlessness to everyone. However, a standard metric to determine how well you performed in the game mode will allow you to find other ways to take the right path to achieving your final objective.
We can go on and on of the things we would love the game to include. Looking at its huge success, 11 Bit Studios is going to push expansions including free upgrades. Currently, there are two additional game modes (apart from the main story mode) and there’s a tab for a third labelled “Coming soon”. Initially, the game was riddled with bugs and frame rate issues. Most of the problems have been fixed for now with consistent frame rates. We do hope that the minor bugs are fixed since the screen lags still persists. It keeps happening multiple times and if you’re playing straight for two to three hours, it would amount to a lot of lags occurring in one gaming session.
We would love a sandbox mode to make its way so that gamers can explore the technology tree and the laws. This will help everyone understand more about the game’s mechanics and plan better in other modes. This is already on its way for release, being called as Endurance mode which is going to be their “distinctive take on this feature”. Apart from that several new updates have already been announced for 2018 including the third scenario called Survivor mode. You know what else will be fun? A custom scenario builder or map builder that could be opened up to the community later. 11 Bit Studios has listed down all their plans in 2018 on their Steam blog post and all of them are free.
Frostpunk has been a great experience and probably one of the best games we’ve played this year. We hope the developers continue building and adding more features to the game with DLCs or free upgrades through time. They also stated that there are upcoming plans for 2019, so we’re really looking forward to those ideas.
So, what do you think about the aforementioned additions for Frostpunk? Completely baseless or do some of them make sense? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.
Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey
This ape-descended life form believed that coming down from the trees was a bad idea until he was introduced to video games. Has spent endless hours playing Prince of Persia, Hitman, Assassin's Creed, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life and Left 4 Dead. This makes it three sentences, Half-Life 3 confirmed.