Frostpunk on Console: How Will It Work?
11 Bit Studios, the team behind Frostpunk, has announced its plans to port the post-apocalyptic city-builder. But how different will it be from the PC version? Click here to find out.
Frostpunk Console Release
The people of 11 Bit Studios look like really gloomy folks. They seem to have a knack for telling dark stories of hopelessness and tiny vestiges of civilization desperately clinging to the last shred of humanity amid overwhelming misery.
The Polish development team first brought us a sampling of this forlorn storytelling in 2014 with This War of Mine, a survival game set in a fictional war-torn nation eerily reminiscent of sights from the Bosnian war. The gloom stayed with us after playing it, so the studio clearly knows its stuff.
The game takes place in the late eighteenth century, in the wake of a volcanic winter which put the whole world in the freezer. Now the last remnants of civilization clutter around colossal generators in an attempt to make the most of the circumstances.
You take on the role of the leader of a lost expedition party that discovers a derelict generator. Upon establishing a settlement around the construct, your responsibility becomes to manage all of its denizens, from providing shelter and supplies to keeping them just about content enough so that the place doesn’t burn up in rebellious flames.
The game has received accolades from critics, who admired the game’s oppressive mood (the ones who dig that kind of setting, at least) and the challenge it poses. The wider public also took a liking to the game, judging from the 1.4 million copies sold in the first year of release. It was, in fact, named the best simulation game to come out in 2018. This success motivated 11 Bit Studios to give console players a glimpse into the world of Frostpunk.
Challenges with Porting Strategy Games
Everyone familiar with video games knows that strategy games have had a bad run with console ports. The main issue these ports face is the fact that the original games were meant for different hardware. As a PC delicacy, RTS games work great when using a keyboard and mouse, because they can easily deal with complex interfaces. Console controllers, however, struggle to keep up with all those icons, making most games bothersome to play.
Frostpunk has to deal with the same problem, seeing that it falls under the category of RTS — though its developers refuse to call it such. 11 Bit is well aware of this problematic history and realizes that doing what the rest have done will inevitably fail. That’s why their plans are a bit more radical.
How 11 Bit Studios Plans to Port Frostpunk
From the outset, the Polish team’s intentions have been to carry over the complete experience of the game. This means that all of its features, content updates, and customization options will be present in the port. This includes Endless mode and Fall of Winterhome.
As you may have guessed, the controls are the biggest hurdle in the porting process. 11 Bit tried the conventional means of solving the controls, but a virtual cursor didn’t work well enough, and the gameplay felt clumsy and sluggish. The team eventually agreed that they would have to redesign much of the interface.
Keymapping also posed a bit of difficulty. The idea was to make the controls as smooth as possible so that console users can play the game with as much confidence as PC players. The team is still working out the finer points of the control scheme, but the layout is more or less finalized.
These are some of the significant changes you can expect in the ported version of Frostpunk:
- Menus and fonts will be enlarged so that you can read them from a distance;
- Camera sensitivity will be higher to enable faster navigation;
- The cursor will snap nearby objects you can interact with;
- A top-down view mode will be added to give you a better perspective of the map;
- A modifier activated with the left trigger will grant more precision during construction;
- An express menu will give you quick access to important commands.
Another key aspect to porting the game is the graphics. PC games tend to take up more processing power, so they had to find a way to convey the same chilling atmosphere with a little less powerful hardware. For the most part, the graphics will be just as evocative of the despondency we all know and love the PC version for.
All things considered, it looks like the port will be of high quality. It’s evident that 11 Bit Studios is putting their backs into it, which shows their dedication to doing the job right. Members of the team have certainly taken a shine to it. Jakub Stokalski, senior lead designer leading the project crew, claims that the console version has grown on him, to the point where he now prefers playing it over the original.