The symbiotic relationship between nature and humanity's ability to sustain itself is something that modern humans are no stranger to. Climate change and mass extinctions and other problems plague our modern world and we’re all looking for ways to live in better harmony with nature and the world around us. The Wandering Village may not evoke thoughts of sustainability in everyone who plays it, but after my hands-on time with the game at a GDC 2023 event held by Xbox, I had a lot on my mind.
The Wandering Village may seem like a standard RTS experience at first. You start out with a few villagers, make them gather resources, build them houses and other such amenities that will help them thrive, and do your best to keep society moving in the right direction. However, when you zoom out on the map you start to see how this game offers a unique experience and perspective.
You see, the Wandering VIllage is a quite literal name. Your band of villagers live and die on the back of a giant, wandering behemoth of a creature. All your lumber, stone, and foodstuffs are harvested on the back of this beast. At certain points in the game you will be able to send search parties to explore abandoned villages and search for useful items or other survivors, but all of that is basically just sending them off from a command screen.
The core game is all about making sure that your village thrives and maintains balance with the creature. At some point in the game, players will gain structures that allow them rudimentary communication with the behemoth and be able to direct its path through the larger overworld. However, if you haven’t kept your harvesting balanced and your creature happy and healthy, the odds of it doing what you ask are slim to none.
The overall vibe of the Wandering Village felt like one of whimsy. As far as city-building games go, the concept of having this world that expands from your tiny village, zooms out to be a giant beast, and then has a world on top of that you’re constantly traveling through really makes it stand out.
The Wandering Village has been on my radar for some time now and I’m glad to say my initial experience felt great. I’m not the most experienced when it comes to the genre, but I’ve played my fair share of Age of Empires, and found this game to be easy to pick up and start playing without too much forethought. And I didn’t feel rushed like I usually do in these types of games, I just sort of slowly lumbered my way along the path set before me, much like the giant beast in the Wandering Village.
This preview is based on hands-on time with the Wandering Village at a GDC 2023 event held by Xbox. The game is set to launch for Xbox Series X/S in 2023 and is available in Early Access form now on Steam.
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