Today at the Xbox Partner Preview, we revealed that medieval strategy game Manor Lords is heading to PC Game Pass in April next year, and Xbox consoles shortly after that. This anticipated title seeks to combine intense real-time combat with immersive city-building, and we’re quite excited about it. So excited in fact, we just had to sit down with Abhishek Chaudhry, Director of Marketing at Hooded Horse, to learn more about how Manor Lords is coming along, what we can expect from the gameplay, and why Xbox is the best place to begin your reign.
Manor Lords draws inspiration from city-builders that have come before, but it’s the historicity of the game that drives it. Authenticity is paramount to the experience, both visually and mechanically, which makes for some pretty unique gameplay elements. For example, residences in Manor Lords are made from burgage plots, a medieval term used to describe how Kings and Lords allocated land to their city’s subjects.
“This system fundamentally changes how you plan housing as each individual home – if given enough land – will also produce a variety of resources, from eggs and vegetables to
bread and clothes, and more as your city grows and develops new capabilities,” Chaudhry explains. “With Manor Lords being a city-builder, you can imagine just how much of an impact this one detail has on every other aspect of your city-planning, let alone how much more involved and interesting it makes the process of simply putting down a few houses.”
When it comes to choosing the location of your settlements, assessing the natural landscape is extremely important. You’ll need to consider soil fertility, groundwater levels, and the availability of food sources. There’s no tool to sculpt your perfect picturesque valleys and rivers; what the terrain gives is what you’ll get, just like in ye olde medieval times.
“Building homes and plotting zig-zagging paths up hills has a beauty of its own, and there’s nothing quite like having your manor or a church situated in a scenic location,” Chaudhry says. “Forests, though, are a little different – deforestation is absolutely a thing, and even the densest forest can be thinned down if you tell your woodcutters to focus in certain areas. On the flipside, you can have foresters go around planting trees to develop forests of your own.”
One element that will significantly affect how your settlements operate is seasons. As time progresses, the weather will cycle between lush spring and summer greens, fiery falls and brisk winters, and the patterns of each will shape how your subjects live and fight. The average temperature will fluctuate, and weather such as rain or snow will impact your decision-making, so you’ll need to make sure you’re making the most of crop season so you’re stocked up on supplies during those harsher months. The realistic seasonal shake-ups add a greater depth to what is already a superb immersive experience.
On the battlefield, weather patterns have tactical implications, and your soldiers will feel the impact of difficult conditions.
“Trudging through mud can slow them down, and fighting in the rain can significantly change the likelihood of survival,” Chaudhry explains. “A unit’s past combat experience comes in handy when campaigning in harsh weather to overcome these negative modifiers.”
Out in the Fields
In Manor Lords, the stakes are high when it comes to combat. You’ll take control of multiple units, order them to move into positions, and it’s up to you to seek out the tactical advantage in any given situation.
However, your soldiers are not just infinite resources that can be crafted at will. Units are primarily made up of actual citizens from your city, and they’ll need to down tools at their usual jobs to take up arms. If those people are contributing to resource production, you’ll feel their absence if you send them off to battle, and an even greater impact if you fail to bring them back home.
“Should they fall in battle, your population drops alongside your citizens’ happiness, with semi-permanent damage to your economy as you wait for new people to migrate and pick up the slack,” Chaudhry explains.
Soldiers will also only wield the equipment that you produce locally, or have imported from further afield. If you want to ferry hordes of swordsmen into a battle or have legions of archers perched around the boundaries of your city, you’ll need to make sure there’s enough gear to go around. This is another example of how city-building and combat are intertwined in Manor Lords for a unique experience.
While Manor Lords revels in its epic battles and deep building simulation, Chaudhry says that the level of immersion is exacerbated by all of the singular historically accurate animations and systems that play out as you play.
“I can lose myself watching hunters stalking their prey and bringing the carcasses home, woodcutters felling trees, shaving off the branches, and hitching the logs onto oxen to drag them to storage; fresh-baked bread being carted over to the marketplace for citizens to buy before the foreign merchant comes by to pick up his share,” He says. “Before you know it, you’re watching the sun rise outside your own window and realizing you should have been in bed hours ago.”
The team is proud to be bringing what is often considered a traditional PC experience to Xbox consoles too. Manor Lords offers a fresh take on the humble city-builder with the addition of combat and strategic elements, and Chaudhry highlights that the team will be making a conscious effort to make sure Manor Lords feels great to play with a controller.
“There are so many players out there that we know would absolutely love to get lost in Manor Lords, but play exclusively on console – they shouldn’t be left out, and now, they won’t be!”
Manor Lords launches on PC Game Pass on April 26th, keep your eyes peeled for further details.