Manor Lords represents a true quantum leap in the creation of building-strategy games. Developed by single person at its core, this medieval game perfectly combines real-time strategy with city building. But the result easily gives an impression of a much larger studio.
During the Steam Next Fest in October 2022, fans had the opportunity to test the first demo of the ambitious one-man project, and so did we. According to developer Slavic Magic, it was downloaded up to 300,000 times. And the early playable demo caused a real storm of euphoria. And goosebumps.
Manor Lords comforts the building heart and makes clear what the genre has been missing for a long time
There’s a reason why Manor Lords is currently the 6th most wanted game on Steam. This building title wants to be anything but an ordinary sim in a medieval setting. The developer targets a highly immersive and realistic experience with its look and feel, which reminds a little of the Bohemian world in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. You will be able to build in several regions and even connect your cities with each other.
Besides, there are economy, diplomacy, and military functions that seem very promising. Negotiate with your neighbors, strategically plan and even carry out epic battles and experience them in Total War style. With next-gen graphics, thanks to Unreal Engine, a feeling of being part of it. In the demo, the mechanics for diplomacy and trade, as well as the strategy part, were not yet integrated. But the building and village administration part alone, as well as the possibility to walk through the own colony in the third person, were already very impressive. Even though it was still at a very early stage, we now know: This title is extremely serious about its prophecies.
What excited me the most about Manor Lords gameplay
The demo revealed to us an almost limitless wealth of detail. Not only did this game have highly realistic graphics, including dynamic weather, but you could zoom out and zoom in practically infinitely – right down to the blades of grass on the ground.
When I built my first logging camp, I realized how serious the developer Slavic Magic is about realism. Instead of a multilevel building animation, settlers bring in building materials, and you can watch several people erect the building from the foundation to the roof, almost piece by piece. It’s downright meditative to watch the villagers go about their daily routines and equally almost eerie to realize how much heart and attention to detail has gone into this game. Insanely amazing what can be done with Unreal Engine, diligence, skill, and the asset, blueprint, and texture libraries available these days. If you missed the demo, you could get a full picture of the Manor Lords gameplay in the following video:
The city builder not only looks pretty but also has great game mechanics under the hood
While in games like Anno, the management of the city can be tiring and also very challenging, the navigation in Manor Lords is quite intuitive. The game has a very clear interface and provides you with the necessary information and appropriate icons without overloading you.
The construction part is very organic and free, partly following a four-point building system. So you can set the front side of structures or area selections (like villager houses) with the first two points and the back side with the last two points. Buildings, roads, and paths can also be freely drawn and connected to each other. This way of construction creates a highly natural-looking overall appearance of your medieval settlement – and brings back the primal joy of building!
The changing of the seasons not only looks beautiful, but it also poses significant challenges for you as a lord. For example, you need to build enough houses and plant and harvest agricultural crops in time to have enough firewood and food for the winter. You have to assign your workers (here: families) to the production sites and allocate them correctly to get the corresponding resources. Here you can clearly see a little influence of Banished, which is skillfully realized and improved in Manor Lords.
What about the military?
Unfortunately, the demo only included the construction simulation. The second major component, the military simulation, has not been playable yet. But the team promises a very complex military system. There will be several ways to equip and assemble your troops individually and to fight battles with them, including formations and the free change of perspective. In a video, you can already observe this system very well.
Bloody hell, when is the Manor Lords release date
The game has been in development for several years, and the work seems to be progressing well. This is shown not least by the developer’s regular posts on Twitter. You can already add the game to your wishlist on Steam and see the planned release date for the Early Access version: 2023. Even though we all wish for an exact release date, we want to practice humility in view of this fantastic building strategy game and gladly wait. Good things take time. In the meantime, it might be worth checking out the official website from time to time.
A few recommendations for the meantime
Or check out Stalker 2, a beautiful sequel to the survival FPS.
Have you played the Manor Lords demo, and if so, what did you like and dislike about it? Feel free to tell us in the comments below.