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Reverse city builder Terra Nil is now bigger and better than ever

The first big Terra Nil update Vita Nova is here, introducing a new world map and plenty of additional content to the city builder for free.

For all their construction, most of the biggest and best city builders and strategy games are inherently destructive in their nature, tasking you with scooping up natural resources and covering the environment in concrete and metal. Against all the industrial sprawl of Civilization and Cities Skylines, then, Terra Nil felt like a quite literal breath of fresh air, and now its first big free update is here packing in plenty of reasons to check back in.

The premise of Terra Nil is quite simple: starting with a barren wasteland, it’s your job to purify the soil, clear the oceans, and restore the world to a thriving ecosystem packed with flora and fauna. Then, once your job is done, you pack up and leave without a trace – in essence, the exact reverse of most city-building games. In its first major update Vita Nova (that’s ‘new life’ in Latin), you’ll get a big chunk of new content and upgrades completely for free.

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First up is a new world map, switching out the old static image for a full 3D globe that gives you a better look at your progress across the various regions. It’ll also show the effect you’re having on surrounding areas, with oceans clearing as you fix things up. Alongside this comes five new levels dotted across various biomes: Hill and Dale, Polluted Bay, Scorched Caldera, Subpolar River, and Continental Outskirts.

Perhaps the biggest change in Vita Nova is a complete rework to animals. “Despite wildlife being an integral part of an ecosystem, we felt that animals entered the game only near the very end and got little screen time,” developer Free Lives explains. “We wanted animals to feel like the custodians of a restored habitat. Instead of scanning for animals only in the final stages of a level, we wanted them to emerge more naturally as their needs were met, which could happen much earlier in the game.”

Terra Nil Vita Nova update - two leopards explore the grass by a riverbank.

Now, animals will begin to show up in your world by themselves if the conditions are at least partly satisfactory for their needs. Should things change and the environment once again become inhospitable, they’ll move away again. Once a group appears, you can click on them to see their various needs, which include all the essentials such as space, shelter, food, water, clean air, and a satisfactory temperature. Ultimately, you’ll need to reach a certain target number of content creatures in your level to meet the victory conditions.

Vita Nova also introduces nine new buildings. These include a Sonic Pulse tower that can be used to drive animals in certain directions and herd them to desired locations. The Wildlife Bridge, meanwhile, can be deployed either as a bridge or a ramp, allowing you to connect various areas of the map to better satisfy the needs of the local animal population.

Terra Nil Vita Nova update - Several deer explore a raised field by the water.

Rounding out the update is an overhaul to the in-game handbook, with new summary pages for all of the various missions in a region and their respective missions, along with a stamp collection to keep track of your progress.

The Terra Nil Vita Nova update is out now, Monday June 24, as a free update for all players. If you’ve yet to give the base game a try, you’ll find it on Steam.

Alternatively, have a look through some of the best farming games to really get in touch with nature, or the best sandbox games if you’re in the mood to create.

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