Microsoft has announced the next games that will reach the Xbox Game Pass on PC.
The Frostpunk strategy and survival game, which will also be included in the next Game Game console update, will be available alongside FTL, the classic strategy and roguelike hybrid of Subset Games (Into the Breach).
The company has taken the opportunity to comment on the latest update of the Xbox application on PC (still in beta), which includes more customization options and easier to see achievements.
As usual, the exact date on which these two games will enter the Xbox Game Pass has not been indicated:
Frostpunk sends us to an icy world where the survival of a city depends on us.
In 1883, the volcano on Krakatoa Island (Indonesia) exploded. It is estimated that it ended the life of more than 30,000 people and that it altered the temperature throughout the planet during the following years. This type of event is known as volcanic winter: the gases and ashes expelled by the volcano alter the atmosphere, leading to various global meteorological phenomena. But what would have happened if the temperatures instead of returning to their original state had continued to fall?
11bits Studios is the team that launched This war of mine in 2014 , although it has also published games such as Beat Cop (Pixel Crow, 2017) or Tower 57 (Pixwerk, 2017). In This war of mine you controlled a series of civilians who were trapped in their city in the middle of a civil war. Fuck the war , they told us as soon as we started; You are not a soldier, you are simply someone trying to survive. In Frostpunk we move to an icy stage with touches of steampunk , where you play the captain of a group of London refugees who congregate around a generator in the middle of the ice.
We are facing a city management game that can remind us of Banished (Shining Rock Software LLC, 2014), but we soon realize that comparisons remain in the genre. And maybe not that, because Frostpunk is about surviving in extreme conditions; City management games also tend not to set a deadline or that once the main plot is completed we can continue playing, and this is not the case.
The game is about what we become when survival is at stake. We are not referring to personnel, but to the survival of an entire settlement. We are the captain or captain of a group of refugees who have to keep the generator alive to produce heat. There are resources to collect, research to develop, territory to explore and decisions to take to govern. Will you accept a group of refugees even though your resources are scarce? Will you put the children to work? What will you do with the sick? Because the game does not let you forget that it is people who are there. They have children, get sick and miss work if it’s too cold. They don’t make it easy for you. You will be placed in visceral situations, and you will have to decide what is best for each case and bear the consequences.
One of the most interesting mechanics of the game in relation to this is the population status bars. Every decision we make will affect them, and determine certain events. But it is not only our decisions that affect them, but also events that occur without our being able to avoid it. I will not deceive you: my first game lasted seven days of the game. The second was twelve. In the third I managed to reach twenty. While the difficulty can be changed once we have completed the first game (regardless of whether we have overcome the days or not) and we can customize the maps, even in the easy version it is a challenge. Its difficulty curve does not give you a break: when you think everything is going well, the game will remind you of what is at risk.
Frostpunk adds independent game modes to the main story, with its own goals. But we must not fear the monotony: each game is different from the previous one. Not because there is a lot of randomness in the objectives, but because every time you will know more, you will be able to predict what technology to develop before, or what decision to make and when to do it. In Frostpunk you can see your citizens moving slowly and laboriously through the snow. And so we can also feel, learning in each game what we neglect in the previous one to be able to improve in the current one.
As for narrative, Frostpunk separates the staff. We will not know much about who the survivors were before arriving here, or what their tastes or aspirations were. Some are engineers / specialists and others are workers. There are also children. It is not clear what has happened to freeze the world, although there is a nod to the event that we narrated at the beginning. But none of this matters when what is at stake is the present, to survive. That is what we should focus on, that is the objective.
When we explore we can find out what happened to the rest of the refugees who came with us. This is the part where I think the game stands out more at the narrative level, even if briefly, because as I said before, not many explanations are given. Discovering other places and knowing what happened in them has been one of my favorite parts, although the maintenance of the city made me have to spend less time than I would like.
And what about the city. Even when we build it, we wonder what is the most efficient way to maintain heat and productivity. The artistic section is detailed, mixing elements of Modernism and industrialization that make us look at these small buildings and their details. In the musical, feelings of helplessness, uncertainty and restlessness are accentuated, which marry the atmosphere.
With the industrial revolution and the rise of factories, the sky of London filled with smoke, covering the sunlight. The stories of the lower class are full of gray, unhealthy, narrow and crowded streets. In Frostpunk there was a time when the smoke that didn’t let me see the city. The cold was silent, it was deadly. The factories worked twenty-four hours to keep warm. And in this little world where so many depended on me, I struggled to distinguish the figures of their inhabitants among houses that looked like dolls.
The spiritual sequel to FTL stands out for its own merits, being more accessible but still penalizing mistakes very harshly.
For the diehard fans of the strategy genre, the following situation is likely to sound: a game that apparently was well on its way suddenly takes an unexpected turn because a shot that had an 80% chance of hitting ends up not hitting the target, unbalancing the situation against us. For better or worse, this is a situation that we will not have to face in Into the Breach: the game seems to have a devout commitment to transparency, refusing to make use of hidden percentages or rolls of dice at almost any time. Make it feel as if the situation is not completely in our hands. Our attacks don’t fail, and those of the enemies don’t either;
Into the Breach – like his spiritual predecessor, FTL: Faster than Light- combines features of the roguelike genre, such as permanent death and the use of random elements in progress and confrontations, with some RPG nuances that will condition the improvement of our pilots and equipment. Its pixel art style is simple, almost minimalist, and it does not boast too much technical or narrative display in its structure and its scenarios. It is a turn-based strategy game, with a high difficulty, and in which our goal is to protect humanity from a terrible intergalactic threat. For these three elements, it is relatively simple to compare it with the previous title of the study, but there is a clearly differentiating nuance. It is no accident that all the battles we fight take place in an 8×8 grid:
On the board we will have at our disposal three units, three robots directed by our pilots, each of them with predefined and unique movement and attack patterns that condition the way they move around the map, and the possibilities of counteracting the enemy attacks they possess. It is a simple solution, but in a way, that is where its charm lies. It will take some time to internalize the way in which each of the units approximates each situation, and even more in defining our style of play and in optimizing the interactions between the members of the squad to make the most of them, but going to a common place , the strategy game par excellence, we will not need to make the previous effort to familiarize ourselves with the dynamics of the game because, to some extent,
That will not save us from having to think very carefully about movements in almost all situations we face, of course. As cliché as it may sound, in Into the Breach there is no small enemy, and the mixture of random elements and the numerical inferiority in which we find ourselves on most occasions will cause our mistakes to be penalized very hard. But, at all times, we have in our hands the necessary information to neutralize the enemy threat, and in cases where we do not get it the error will be – almost always! – our fault.
Although it is not one of the most striking factors of the experience, there are also things to highlight in the narrative section, scripted by Chris Avellone (Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol). The developers commented in an interview in Gamasutrathat the idea of the game arises in response to the superhero cinema, where large battles between monsters and heroes usually take place, in which cities are destroyed with impunity, with little or no regard for the citizens who inhabit them. In Into the Breach we handle a military squad specifically designed to save the lives of civilians while an interplanetary war is happening. Around this, a science fiction plot is built that uses time travel and divergent time lines as mechanics to let our surviving pilots move from each raid from one game to another. Thus, we have some notion of progress in general lines even if our mission fails, and permanent death does not constantly leave us in the same exit box.
However, the most fascinating element of the narrative is perhaps one of its mechanics. The basic premise of the game is that the Veks want to destroy the buildings on the map, and we want to protect them; every time they manage to tear down one of them, we will lose a point in the total health of the energy network. When we lose all the points, the Vek take control of the map and finish the game. This “grid” is represented by an orange life bar that occupies a good stretch of the upper left of the screen, and the interesting thing is that this indicator is common for all fighting. It is the perennial reminder of all the decisions we have made during the game, of mistakes and successes, misadventures and blows of luck. The indicator that our actions have consequences, and that a couple of battles in which we have proceeded in a particularly skillful way will allow us to relax a little more in the following meetings, and that, on the contrary, we have chained several false steps, we will have to be more conservative to remedy it. While other strategy games condition us to think that losing our units or our weapons is the worst thing that can happen to us, here the fuses are replenished in the next match in case they weaken us, but the damages that the opponents do to our space colonies are paid much more expensive, and if the indicator reaches zero, we can not continue playing. We will have to be more conservative to remedy it. While other strategy games condition us to think that losing our units or our weapons is the worst thing that can happen to us, here the fuses are replenished in the next match in case they weaken us, but the damages that the opponents do to our space colonies are paid much more expensive, and if the indicator reaches zero, we can not continue playing. We will have to be more conservative to remedy it. While other strategy games condition us to think that losing our units or our weapons is the worst thing that can happen to us, here the fuses are replenished in the next match in case they weaken us, but the damages that the opponents do to our space colonies are paid much more expensive, and if the indicator reaches zero, we can not continue playing.
That said, it sounds like the units we drive don’t have great importance in the course of the game, but it’s not true. One of the best-designed design features of the entire game is that each of the elements is interconnected with others. For example, executing concrete actions with our wicks will unlock achievements, which will also provide us with in-game coins that we can use to buy – surprise! – more wicks. Once we unlock them, we can no longer lose them even if we die a million times. In addition to being a good incentive to continue playing and feel progress outside our failures, they are also, in a way, an incentive to get out of our comfort zone and try new strategies. There are purely aggressive squads,
And it is precisely in this fact, in the act of constantly changing the type of strategy we use, where we see that we are really facing a complex title with many nuances and details that condition the experience, in which each situation can be approximate in different ways. The game leaves in our hands a variety of different tools, including the possibility of creating our own customized squads, but no combination of piloted robots is better than the others per se, but each one has its weak points and its virtues, and we We will have to decide which one best suits us. Each battle lasts about ten minutes, and an entire campaign can take an hour, and as in chess, there are no absolute answers here: it will be a duel to the death between us and the AI, a fierce fight to save the universe, as we have done so many other times in other games. One of those titles in which the situations surpass us, and the decisions have a lot of weight, and in many occasions, we are fighting not to win, but not to lose; but when we get out, we do it in a way that feels more fair, as if we had really fought it with our own effort.