Frostpunk 2: Exploring Political Influences and Human Nature Through Storytelling

“We moved the second game to thirty years later because we wanted to tell a story about growing ambitions,” Juszczyk tells me. “We wanted to create a white sheet of paper. We survived the storm in [the first] Frostpunk, so now what?” ‘Now what’ is the key question, giving 11 bit room to tell a story that’s bigger than just surviving the elements.

How is it doing that exactly? By zooming out. Instead of focusing on placing individual buildings, Frostpunk 2 has you building entire districts and even zooming in on outposts where you can make mini-settlements. “We didn’t shift the scale to make the game more badass, bigger, just for the sake of being bigger because it’s Frostpunk *2*.

We shifted the scale in order to tell a story about human nature,” Juszczyk reiterates. Instead of scraping the barrel for resources, Frostpunk 2 is about pushing your city in a direction that will allow it to sustain itself. No longer are you the Captain, a single person with the ability to make decisions for an entire city – now that you’re trying to move beyond just survival, they want to be included in the process too. “Your people want to be vocal,” Juszczyk says.

What’s cool about Frostpunk 2 is that citizens have split themselves into different factions, and the laws you pass will either garner their approval or upset them, making it harder for you to get them to cooperate with you in the future. Many of these factions were created with inspiration drawn from history. Juszczyk tells me that a lot of the people involved with the game have a background in humanities, and that he personally studied psychology and sociology, all of which feeds into the heavy political overtones of the game. All of them, for good or for bad, are based on configurations of real worldviews from back in the day.

Sometimes it feels exotic because there’s this Frostpunk amplifier – let’s turn the dial to 11 or 12. But the base is real, like the idea of believing only the strongest should survive,” he says. He’s talking about the pro-adaptation citizens, who want to build the strongest society possible. “They value keeping really close to tradition, being conservative in some areas.

“I was curious to know how he personally played Frostpunk 2. Juszczyk laughed and said, “I suck.” Like me, he tries to balance the approval of every faction – “I’m trying to be a good guy, trying to be like, okay kids, get along, don’t fight, and sh*t always hits the fan, and I’m trying *really hard*” – but he also enjoys a “wild post-apocalyptic playthrough” where he sides with Icebloods, the extremist faction of the Foragers. Because it has a much longer main story that’s split into chapters, Frostpunk 2 gives you a lot of room to figure out what kind of leader you’re going to be. The prologue and first chapter took me four hours to complete, and that was after I switched to easy difficulty after failing the prologue a couple of times.

Instead of the many shorter scenarios of the first game, the main scenario is much longer and broken up into several chapters. As of right now, there aren’t any other scenarios, but Juszczyk doesn’t rule out that more will be added post-launch. And yes, there will be a Survivor mode. This is one of the more interesting aspects of Frostpunk 2 and its predecessor – the games never force moral choices on you, and you can play as a leader as authoritarian or even fascist as you like.

Juszczyk nods vigorously as I express how intrigued I am that the game never punishes or rewards you for doing the ‘right’ thing, nor does it really *have* a right option to choose. Instead, its morality is entirely created within the players’ mind. I found myself flinching from making choices that I deemed evil, despite knowing that it would be a more efficient choice. Like Juszczyk, when I’m not intentionally playing as an evil dictator, I want to be a good guy.

But I’m looking forward to trying both approaches when the game releases on July 26.

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