Thinking Bigger with the Release of Frostpunk 2

“Every utopia ends up being a dystopia for someone else”

By Jake Dekker on May 27, 2024 at 6:00AM PDT

If Frostpunk was about survival, then Frostpunk 2 is about stability–or at least the pursuit of it. Survival is still at the heart of Frostpunk 2’s gameplay and themes, but 11 Bit Studios wants its players to think bigger this time around. How do you create a thriving, expansive metropolis in a frigid and unforgiving wasteland? According to co-game director and design director Jakub Stokalski, “With that type of story, the scale needed to change, and with that came different city building mechanics [and] different depictions of society.”

If you’ve followed Frostpunk 2’s development or checked out the recent beta, then you probably know what Stokalski means by scale. Frostpunk 2 moves at a much brisker pace than the original. Rather than managing your city hour by hour, Frostpunk 2 moves day by day. Production, as long as your factories are properly staffed, moves at a constant pace. That’s not to say you don’t need to manage your workers and citizens. Like in the original, they still need food, shelter, and warmth in order to survive, but these issues come and go at a quicker rate. To give some perspective, I burned through nearly 200 weeks with a population of over 10,000 in just two hours.

You need a javascript enabled browser to watch videos.

Want us to remember this setting for all your devices?

Sign up or Sign in now!

By clicking ‘enter’, you agree to GameSpot’s
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy


Now Playing: Frostpunk 2 Director Breaks Down Biggest Changes

In order to match the scope and pace of Frostpunk 2, 11 Bit Studios needed to rework some of its fundamental city building mechanics. Rather than constructing facilities on a radial grid, Frostpunk 2 lets you create entire districts inside of hexagonal tiles. This gives your city a more freeform structure as different districts spill out from the city center and expand across the frozen tundra.

You can’t just build anywhere, though. Every tile needs to be frostbroken before districts are erected, and that requires resources and a small workforce. Additionally, you can only frostbreak tiles adjacent to other frostbroken tiles. This means if you see a natural resource in the distance, you must first carve a path through the ice before you can build an Extraction District and start harvesting its resources.

The frostbreaking mechanic introduces a natural tension to Frostpunk 2’s growth and urban expansion. Despite the opportunity to concentrate solely on frostbreaking nearby regions for expansion, if you fail to prioritize building homes, food and resource extraction areas, your city’s lifespan will be short-lived. To prosper, it’s crucial to find the delicate balance between expansion and progression. These adaptations breathe a new lease of life into the Frostpunk universe, and offer a unique set of challenges, at least in the initial stages.

The human element is integral to the dynamic tension between expansion and progression. From the get-go in Frostpunk 2, you are governing a considerably larger population and, in tandem with that increase, come fresh factions, regulations and hierarchical structures. There’s an option to enforce more factory shifts to amass more resources, yet that could instigate discontent, illness or even death. If you let these issues escalate, the city could collapse. However, if you’re too lenient, meeting the city’s burgeoning needs could prove an insurmountable task. Much like its predecessor, managing Frostpunk 2 is a tightrope act constantly questioning the extent of your sacrifice for a common cause. Will you exile the elderly demographic for ration conservation? It appears I can.

Crucial to governing Frostpunk 2’s population is engaging with the council to ratify laws. The Frostpunk days of captains at the helm are over, replaced by a council of 100 representatives and a Steward tasked with proposing and implementing laws. The council meets frequently, providing you the opportunity to propose and, potentially, enforce a law. Echoing the original game, these laws span a range of issues, from child labor to workforce compensation. However, to enforce a law, you need the majority backing of the council. While voting tends to be based on your governance, there is room for negotiation or even pressuring when desperate times call for desperate measures. If your rule is woefully inadequate, the council has the power to vote you out. On the flip side, Frostpunk 2 integrates Twitch, allowing viewers to step into the shoes of the council – an element that could significantly sway the game’s difficulty, dependent on the community’s involvement.

With the ambitions of Frostpunk 2, 11 Bit Studios saw the necessity to overhaul some intrinsic city-building mechanics.

Your performance isn’t the only thing the council factors into their decisions. Your relationship with different factions can also play a huge role. If you abuse the Frostlanders, don’t expect them to back you during the next town hall. Factions are much more than just political pawns, though. Each faction has its own set of beliefs that can inform your play style and shape your city. Some laws and research might directly support one faction while simultaneously harming another.

As Stokalski puts it, “Every faction has a vision that ends in something they would call utopia: a set of ultimate technologies [and] ultimate laws that for them is the ideal world. The trick is […] that every utopia ends up being a dystopia for someone else. The core meaning of the game lies in you trying to navigate these different visions, and trying to find your way through it [to] build a society that you, as a player, leader, and human being, are comfortable with.”

However, Stokalski stressed that these difficult decisions aren’t built around shock value or gratuitousness. Choices designed to simply shock or frustrate the player have a short shelf life. The key, as he puts it, “lies in the fact that every step we [try] to include you, the player, and your values, worldview, and outlook into the game’s system itself.” It’s not always about picking the lesser of two evils, but filtering these decisions through your own beliefs and trying to make sense of the immediate consequences and the eventual repercussions.

Going into Frostpunk 2, my biggest concern was that the shift in scope would overshadow the intimacy of the original. Your meager population and how they reacted to your decisions brought that world to life, and that back and forth between you and your citizens gave Frostpunk character. It felt like the pace and mechanics of Frostpunk blended perfectly with its difficult decisions and tactile consequences. In theory, the more 11 Bit Studios zooms out and expands on that original idea, the more it could trivialize those intimate moments, but that isn’t the case here. Based on my preview, it seems Frostpunk’s cold, icy heart is still intact, despite its many shake-ups.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Article

Elon Musk’s xAI Gears Up to Build Supercomputer for Next-Gen Grok Powering

Next Article

Enjoy a Great Deal on the Original Sonic The Hedgehog Animated Series at Amazon

Related Posts