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As Europe freezes, Frostpunk's endgame looks oddly prescient

"There's a thin line between order ... and despotism."

As the Beast from the East freezes Europe to a standstill, and scientists worry this could be the first of many climate change anomalies to come, 11 bit Studios' imminent city-building game Frostpunk looks oddly prescient. It asks how far you would go to ensure the survival of the last human settlement on a frozen Earth.

We've seen, and I've played, how it begins - the immediate scramble in the opening days to build shelters, fuel the furnace and feed mouths. It's a constant battle. But what will it be like weeks down the line when you're up and running and people no longer fear daily for their lives? That, apparently, is when the dissent begins.

People will group themselves into factions and cause trouble. One group shown in a new developer diary is the Londoners, which is a bit close to home. Maybe they'll protest, maybe they'll riot, and how you deal with them will show what kind of leader you are.

As you progress into Frostpunk's endgame, new options for ruling will open up. New paths like Order and Discipline will become available, providing whole new decision trees to use.

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The developer diary hone in on the Order and Discipline tree, where you can pass laws to establish a Neighbourhood Watch, Guard Stations, Propaganda Center, Prisons and even enact Forceful Persuasion.

"But there's a thin line between order that ensures safety and order that is actually despotism," warned senior game designer Marta Fijak.

"One bad choice leading to the next, harsh conditions, favouring survival over decency - all of these can make your society drift into a dictatorial state," said senior lead designer Jakub Stokalski. "And when you grow power-hungry, using oppressive practices can easily lead you to controlling the city with radical, totalitarian methods.

"Of course," he added, "imposing order might not be your idea of trying to fix things. History shows paths other than ruling with an iron fist. Ultimately our game is about people. How you lead them to survival is up to you."

Frostpunk will be released on PC by the end of March. We expect a specific date any day now.