HomeTech What is Manor Lords? The medieval city building game that sold a million copies in a single day

What is Manor Lords? The medieval city building game that sold a million copies in a single day

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 What is Manor Lords? The medieval city building game that sold a million copies in a single day

Launched like a catapult at the end of April, Manor Lords is the latest in a series of explosively successful video games that have been released this year. In fact, the rise of this modest-looking city builder is arguably more impressive than the huge launch of Helldivers 2 or the poker phenomenon Balatro. Developed largely by a single person and released in an incomplete state, Manor Lords sold one million copies in its first 24 hours on sale.

The magnitude of Manor Lords’ success is remarkable, but contrary to what it seems, it has not come from nowhere. Momentum around the game has been building for years, as part of a broader rise in popularity of city-building games in general. There’s also more to Manor Lords than meets the eye, as its mundane medieval exterior hides a tangible, richly detailed simulation of feudal life.

What is Manor Lords?

It is a city builder, the latest in a long line of games dating back to 1989’s SimCity, with more modern examples including 2015’s Cities: Skylines. These games involve building and managing a settlement from an aerial perspective, planning networks of roads, creating homes for people to live in, organizing public services and generally trying to keep citizens alive and happy.

But there are some key differences between Manor Lords and these more traditional games. Most obviously, Manor Lords is set in medieval times and not modern times. You play as a feudal lord who is granted land by the king with the aim of building a city on it. Dirt roads are established, houses are built for peasants to live in, farms and fields are created for them to cultivate, and finally, cottage industries such as blacksmithing are established to support a military force.

That said, there is a greater emphasis on survival in Manor Lords. It highlights the challenge of subsisting in a pre-industrial society. As with real medieval rural settlements, the game largely revolves around the seasons. Your villagers can survive for a time by hunting deer and foraging for berries, but these resources are limited and will be scarce come winter. For a settlement to truly thrive, you must use the land to your advantage, plowing fields, sowing seeds, and harvesting crops at the right times of year, ensuring you have enough stock to survive the lean months. Simply getting the basics right is an organizational challenge. If you don’t plan ahead, your villagers will starve and freeze before the year is out.

The game largely revolves around the seasons. … Stately gentlemen. Photography: Slavic Magic

Manor Lords has been gaining momentum for several years through Steam’s Wishlist system in the PC game store, which allows players to keep track of games they’re interested in and gives developers an idea of ​​what rumors are going around. They surround them. When Manor Lords developer Greg Styczeń revealed the game in 2020, he expected to receive around 14,000 wishlists. The week before its release, it racked up over 3 million wishlists, making it the most searched game on the service at the time.

Manor Lords also rose to prominence during a broader surge in interest in city-building games, particularly those with a survival bent. This began with 2018’s Frostpunk, in which players built a city in an ice-covered world, putting them in the role of a dictator who had to make difficult decisions to ensure the survival of humanity. The success of Frostpunk spawned a subgenre of games that pit players’ urban planning aspirations against harsher climates and situations.

Other examples include Against the Storm (published by the same company as Manor Lords), which challenges players to build a society on a land that is slowly being consumed by rising oceans, along with Timberborn, where players manage a metropolis built by beavers, and the upcoming sequel. to Frostpunk, which is based on the ideas of the game that started it all.

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So is Manor Lords simply cashing in on a trend?

You can form militias to fight the armies of rival lords… Manor Lords. Photography: Slavic Magic

The trend has certainly helped, but given that Manor Lords has been in development for seven years, it would be unfair to say this. Manor Lords also has several distinctive features: its depiction of settlement construction and social simulation is very organic, designing an authentic-looking settlement is easy, and watching villagers live their daily lives is entertaining. As you begin to build a new house, you’ll watch your oxen and their drivers drag logs to the construction site, while villagers chat and murmur among themselves as they assemble the construction board by board. Likewise, hunters will drag a deer carcass to their camp, prepare the meat for consumption, and then take it to the market where other villagers can purchase it.

There is also a strategic layer that allows you to exert your influence as a medieval lord. You can form militias in your settlements, create military units to defend against bandits, and even fight against the armies of rival lords. You can also use your growing power to claim more regions, which will give you access to more resources and allow you to build more settlements. It is this delicate balance between scope and detail that has made Manor Lords so highly anticipated.

Is Manor Lords worth buying now?

Manor Lords has been released to Steam’s Early Access program, meaning that while you can buy it now, the game isn’t finished yet. As it stands, there’s enough to see and do to justify the asking price, but there are clearly areas of the game that need improvement or expansion. While the act of building your city has a lot to keep you busy, the battle system and the strategic layer above have a lot of untapped potential. Additionally, the game’s tutorials are very rudimentary, so expect to learn how to manage your village through trial and error. In short, you probably won’t regret purchasing Manor Lords now, but you also won’t miss out if you wait for the final version, which is expected to release in about a year.

Any beginner tips for players looking to get into Manor Lords?

Create farms and fields to cultivate in… Manor Lords. Photography: Slavic Magic
  • Rain can ruin crops and supplies, including the reserves they give you at the beginning of the game. One of your first jobs should be to build a warehouse and a barn to prevent these initial resources from going to waste.

  • When your supplies are secure, priority buildings are a hunting camp and food gathering cabin, and a logging camp for building materials.

  • Use some of your initial funds to purchase a second ox to haul logs, as this will help speed up construction. You will need to build a second pole to hitch before doing this, otherwise the ox might escape.

  • When you build a house (known as burgage plots in the game), make sure you give it enough space in the back. This will allow you to add a secondary function to the building, such as a chicken coop where residents can raise chickens. Chickens are especially useful early on, providing a small number of eggs to add to your food reserves.

  • You won’t earn any passive income until you have a level two village, so pay close attention to what you need to build to achieve this.

  • You can start plowing a field in June and still receive some harvest before the first winter. Simply wait until November and then check the “Harvest Now” box for farmers to get out their sickles.

  • Many buildings require a family to be assigned to them to function, but not all buildings will need to be used all the time. Pickers can’t do their jobs in winter, for example, so it’s worth moving them to other jobs when the berries aren’t growing. Conversely, farmers don’t work when crops are growing, so feel free to reassign them until crops are ready to harvest.

  • Killing bandits and clearing their camps not only prevents them from stealing your stuff, but also provides a lump sum of cash that can be very useful early in the game. A militia of about 20 spearmen can defend themselves against a group of bandits without too many problems.

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