Frostpunk: Console Edition Preview – Freezing in Greater Comfort
Console players are often crying out for new strategy games, so the news that they'll soon be able to enjoy Frostpunk while sat on the sofa with a controller is pretty great for them. Frostpunk is a real-time strategy that sees players building what they need for a civilization to survive in a cold, desolate world. Building places for people to live, carving out paths through the snow, and collecting the materials essential for survival will all come together to survive the frigid wastes.
But course, Frostpunk is a game we already know and love on PC, so when 11-Bit Studios were bringing it over to console, it wasn't a case of just throwing a cursor on screen and controlling it with an analog stick, it was important to truly ensure the game was designed for an worked well with a traditional console controller, either on Xbox One or PlayStation 4.
When 11-Bit tackled this problem, they decided to do what was necessary to make the experience comfortable using a much less precise method of input. As a result, the usual tiny tricks you would expect are in place, like snapping pieces to a grid and lining buildings up against one another. It's the small but simple touches that make playing on a sofa more enjoyable, like radial menus and button shortcuts, to get the experience closer and closer to the flagship PC version.
This even includes an overhead view, which makes arranging pieces without a mouse much easier. 11-Bit's Karol Zajaczkowski explained to me that the precision of a mouse makes it simple for players to place pieces where they wish, but on a controller, it's a bit more awkward, of course. The overhead view allows players to see where they're placing buildings and such more easily and avoids players making foolhardy mistakes.
In addition to that of course is game optimization. Optimization is hardly the most exciting topic, especially when it comes to console, which won't exactly be offering different graphics options, but in this case it's got repercussions for PC, too. The base consoles are obviously much less capable than modern PCs, and as a result, the game required optimizations which are now carrying across to PC. Background calculations, visual effects and more have been improved to have the game running smoothly across the base consoles, and those improvements will have the make the PC version better than ever, too. If you're currently playing on PC on high, you might be able to bump it up to Ultra next time.
Currently, there are no details on the performance of the enhanced Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, but I've been assured that - yes - they will look and run better than the base console equivalents. As for the Nintendo Switch? Well, of course, we all want to be able to play our strategy titles on the go, but it's not that simple. The folks at 11-Bit don't have plans to port the game to Nintendo Switch right now, although Karol made it clear that they get the question a lot, and keep it in mind when looking at platforms to publish their games on.
Thus far, Frostpunk looks like one of the better strategy titles to be hitting consoles, and I can't wait to freeze to death with the rest of humanity. Frostpunk: Console Edition will launch later this year on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Meanwhile, check out our review of the PC version.
Frostpunk is a challenging city builder where your decisions have dramatic repercussions on the citizens you’re tasked with looking after in a wintery apocalypse. It's a pleasant surprise that is definitely worth your time if you’re looking for something different and brutally challenging.