Between Manor Lords and Frostpunk 2, as well as promising new works like Millennia and Ara History Untold, 2024 is looking like a very good year for strategy games. Whether you like the grand scale of a historical 4X, or something lower key, that focus on a small band of survivors making daily decisions, the genre epitomized by the likes of Civilization and Age of Empires is stacked this year. One new medieval strategy game, which also features RTS combat, feels like a blend of some of the most promising up-and-comers of 2024. Mixing Manor Lords’ Middle Ages setting, the consequential choice making of Frostpunk, and Command and Conquer-style real-time-strategy, if you want to try it, it’s playable right now thanks to a new demo at Steam Next Fest.
Thrive: Heavy Lies The Crown is a new medieval strategy game from Zugalu Entertainment. A mix of historical realism and high fantasy (the buildings and castles look true to life, but there are also monsters and dragons), Thrive has a setup similar to Frostpunk. Leading a small group of survivors to a new land, your job, initially, is to provide the basics and keep everyone alive.
From the beginning, your choices carry significant weight. If you want to push your people hard and expand rapidly, you’ll find yourself carried down the path of Tyranny, which provides unique options when it comes to deciding how you lead. Take it a bit easier and treat your people better, and you’ll walk the path of Benevolence, which also offers bespoke abilities and choices.
The map is gigantic, resembling at times a sweeping 4X game, but combat in Thrive is more like an RTS. Neighboring villages can become either allies or enemies, or otherwise forge allegiances against you behind your back. Perhaps you want to be diplomatic. Or maybe exert your iron will with a vicious military campaign. Either way, you can play Thrive solo or via four-person competitive multiplayer. And it’s available to try right now thanks to a new Steam Fest Demo, which you can get right here.