Chilly survival citybuilder Frostpunk 2 is due to release on July 25th, but you technically don’t have to wait that long to get your fingers cold. There’s a beta coming later this month, playable between April 15th and the 22nd, if only you’re willing to pre-order the digital deluxe edition.

The beta begins on April 15th at 7pm CEST/1pm EDT/10am PDT. It contains a “part of the sandbox mode called the Utopia Builder Preview”, according to 11bit’s announcement. It’ll only be playable in English and Simplified Chinese, rather than the full slate of languages coming with the full release.

11bit also encourage players to check the system requirements they announced last month. They’re not overly demanding.

Katharine got to see but not play Frostpunk 2 at Gamescom last year, where 11bit showed off the sequel’s larger cities and focus on “social survival”. Issues like heat, power, starvation have been moved to the background – though they can still kill you – to allow for a focus on tension and conflict with the humans you’re leading.

What’s new is that it’s not just you calling the shots anymore. To pass laws relating to broader issues and tensions relating to the city’s overall equality, such as ‘what to do with the city’s children’ (as some have been roped into working in these Hothouses while others are out playing and studying, we find out from clicking on one of the citizens and hearing their thoughts on the matter), we must pay a visit to the new Council Hall. Stokalski calls this “the most important special building that we have in the game” – even more so, perhaps, than the generator itself. Indeed, the days of being able to justify anything to ensure your people’s survival “are long gone”, he says, and the people now “expect to be heard in how the city is run, what the rules in the city are, and how it’s going to be shaped.”

Uh oh, democracy.

Alas, as mentioned above, to try the beta yourself, you’ll need to pre-order the digital deluxe edition, which at the time of writing is £56.69/$67.49/€67.49. That’s a lot of money on a game that might be bunk when it launches – and which is coming to Game Pass on day one.

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