SteamWorld Build is a city sim with lots of layers

The beloved robo-steampunk franchise is back and this time it's giving city building a try with SteamWorld Build.


The SteamWorld franchise has tackled a number of genres during its existence. It started off with a tower defense title and moved on to action platformers and the series even has a turned-based RPG title as well. Now, the team over at Thunderful are getting ready to bring their IP to the world of city builders with SteamWorld Build. I was able to do a little hands-on city planning with a PC version of the game while at GDC 2023 to see if I had what it takes to keep my robot colony functioning at optimum efficiency.

A sprawling city in SteamWorld Build.

Source: Thunderful

SteamWorld Build tasks you with creating a Wild West steampunk inspired town full of robot inhabitants. Like in many building games, players will have to plan out their cities to optimize efficiency. Many structures in SteamWorld Build have a radius of influence. For instance, you’ll want to make sure your convenience stores are placed in such a way to serve as many residences as possible and save some resources. As you might expect, many of the structures will unlock as certain parameters are met or materials become available.

While the core gameplay mechanics should be familiar to anyone who’s played titles like SimCity or Cities: Skylines, there are several ways in which SteamWorld Build is looking to set itself apart. As with most games in the franchise, players will have to dig deep and do some mining. The whole goal of Build is to find several lost pieces of technology that you’ll be able to use to escape the planet you’re on, which happens to be dying. In order to accomplish this goal, players will need to build mines below the surface layer by layer as they search for the lost tech.

Setting up underground mining operations in SteamWorld Build.

Source: Thunderful

Along with the cities being built above ground, there will be a need for things like mining equipment, power relays, and defensive turrets to protect workers from anything that may be lurking. Players will have to keep resources traveling between multiple levels in order to keep everything functioning and unlock new structures for that area. Players should prepare to dig deep if they’re going to get off the planet before it’s too late.

Anyone familiar with the stylized charm of SteamWorld’s past titles should be pleased to know that it appears to be present in Build. Characters look and act like they’re straight out of a spaghetti western with a hefty robot twist. The world itself with its dry desert surroundings invokes that pioneer town setting as well.

Fending off underground creatures in SteamWorld Build.

Source: Thunderful

Between SteamWorld Build’s charm and its unique mining mechanics, the game is shaping up to be an enjoyable take on the sim genre. Much like the solid foundation of a robot town, a game takes some time to build, so as of right now there’s no release date for SteamWorld Build, but we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on its progress.

This preview is based on hands-on time with an early build of SteamWorld Build at GDC 2023. The game is set to launch for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S. and Nintendo Switch at some point in 2023, but does not have an official launch date as of the time this article was published.

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Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

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