Foundation - An early access city builder with lots of promise

By Renata Mojola 14 Sep 2020 0

Released for Early Access in February 2019, Foundation is a very pleasant and addictive mix of micromanaging and organic development - a medieval themed sandbox! Assign jobs like in Age of Empires, plan some buildings like Planet Zoo and all with Northgard-style graphics, what more could we ask for?

The game allows you to decide which buildings go where and assign jobs to each villager, no matter how many you end up having as the years go by. It may sound complicated, but the window based system the game uses makes it easily manageable.

The hardest part of playing Foundation is to actually stop playing it. I mean, I lost count of how many times I’ve said, "just until one more villager arrives" or even "just until this construction is finished" and “my army was victorious! I need to welcome them back at least!”.

The best thing, though? It’s apparently only 40% finished, so we have a lot of things to look forward to!

Foundation Job System

Laying good Foundations

As of right now, Foundation has over 30 different buildings you can make and one of my favourite things about the game is that a few of those are module based. Which means that, if you want, you can spend actual hours just setting the foundations to a church or tavern; adjust and build it up exactly the way you want it to be. From walls and towers, to gardens, fountains, banners and more. It’s unfortunate that you can’t do that for all buildings, but the ones you can are really cool to work on. There’s such a variety of bits and pieces to use, that the same building can end up looking completely different each time you have a go at it.

Foundation also has a wonderfully ‘organic’ feel to it - you get to assign villagers to their jobs, and then they carry on with that work in a way that brings your village to life. You mark the regions for them to build houses, but they are the ones that will actually build and upgrade them as they feel it’s needed. Their daily work is quite well done too, so it’s fun to simply watch them as you wait. You can also promote villagers and as you do, other buildings will be available to you; though that’ll make their list of demands rise too. The key is not to rush on any stage, since you have to keep your villagers happy so that new ones will arrive. Villagers don’t have kids at the moment, so it’s really important to keep them happy to attract more and grow your population.

Foundation Modular Building

The system of area designation is so very simple and effective that you’ll have no trouble at all with planning your village the way you want it. The game allows you to choose exactly which areas are to be for wood cutting, food gathering, hunting or even reforestation, so you can create clear divisions. You can also build a military fort that allows you to train soldiers, choose their weapon (spear or sword), and send them on far away missions for the king. You can choose exactly which soldiers are going to which mission depending on how hard it is, or who is wounded from last excursions, etc.

Development Roadmap

All that being said, though, the game does have a few points that it needs to improve on - not surprising at all since it’s still in the Early Access phase. I already have had plenty of fun with what the game currently has, but a few things can be a bit annoying. I’d say the biggest problem is the lack of a proper tutorial. I’ll admit to having to watch a video to help me learn more than just the very basics. Also, there is currently only one kind of event - the storm - which although can make you very desperate the first time it happens, you’ll quickly learn how to prepare for it and it won’t really bother you anymore. It’s been confirmed that more are on the way!

Foundation Building Regions

The buildings do not adjust to the terrain you’re building them, so parts of doors and stairs are often underground. I’m always imagining my little villagers becoming dwarves to get in certain buildings since the maps I tend to choose are uneven terrains - way more impressive to build your fort on top of hills overlooking all other poor souls down under. Also, it’s silly but I quite like talking to the villagers and calling them by their names when I’m playing, so it’s really upsetting how after only a few they start being only numbers - I can’t wait for the update that will let you either rename them all or have more names in the pool.

Buy now or wait?

I personally like learning the basic mechanics of a game before delving deeper, so for me this situation is perfect. Yes, there are bugs and things to improve, but this is actually the time for you to get out there and try to help and mold the game in the way that you think would be better and more enjoyable. Also, there are plenty of mods that you can install to make your city even more impressive. You can find new maps to choose from at the start, add new types of construction and structure such as docks, more decorations, jobs, etc. The Foundation discord channel is brilliant for both finding the mods and solving any doubts you have while playing the game.

Foundation Roadmap

As is, the game is already plenty of fun and has a lot of buildings and little details for you to easily spend way too much time on! It’s good to keep in mind, though, that this is a sandbox game. It does not have a campaign, nor a plan to add one. It’s a game about creating an ever developing and expanding city, and managing your hundred little villagers to help you build whatever strikes your fancy. If that’s not your cup of tea, maybe you’ll be better off with Northgard or the well loved Age of Empires, both of which have a clear objective.

In Foundation, there is no goal other than building to your heart’s content. If you enjoy that, brilliant! So, get into the Medieval Sandbox and let’s see the most impressive fort and manor you can make!

Foundation released into Steam Early Access on February 1st, 2019. At the time of writing, it was due to remain in EA for approximately one year. It was still in beta as of September 2020. 

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