I have finally found a medieval/renaissance-themed city builder that provides a balanced experience that is neither super challenging nor offensively simple. The first time I launched Pioneers of Pagonia, I felt like I was in an MMORPG because of the adventurous background music. I have a feeling that it’s inspired by the Ragnarok Online OSTs.
For an early-access game, it almost feels like a full release. I judged it based on the variety of scenarios that you can choose from at the start of the game. You can build in peace, defend your village against hordes of enemies, or have total control of your experience using the game’s Sandbox mode.
Not only that, the devs have a comprehensive 2024 roadmap that we can also look forward to including co-op which quickly piqued my interest. Let’s take a look at my first impressions of the early access release.
Graphics & Presentation
Pioneers of Pagonia went with the bright and vibrant art direction which I find quite charming. When I immersed myself in Pagonia, I immediately felt like I was playing The Sims in late medieval times because of the expressive character designs.
Building menus are well organized and you’re never lost on what to construct next. The only gripe that I have is the way they implemented the game speed. You can only adjust it to either 1x or 5x but you can’t pause in-game aside from pressing the Esc button on your keyboard.
You start the game with a population of 401 pioneers on a galleon ship with resources ready at your disposal. There are helpful tooltips that can guide you throughout your playthrough.
Settling down usually starts with building an Explorer’s Hut that lets you scout the undiscovered places on the island and Guard Towers to expand your territory. I’m not sure if other city-building survival games have done this, but I find it interesting how Pioneers of Pagonia implements territory expansion.
The game enhances immersion with its realistic approach to terrain as well. I noticed this after I placed a few farm plots. Seeing them uneven feels weird at first but I think that’s also where the game shines.
Pagonia’s adaptability to build on any environment along with its procedural map generation is a nice touch. I felt like they took a page off the Tropico playbook. The first time I placed farm fields, my brain couldn’t accept what was happening because I was placing them on uneven terrain and I have gotten so used to structured placements over the years playing different strategy and base-building titles. But as I watched the diggers level out the terrain, I was amazed by the level of detail.
The Settlement Feels Alive
I love the game’s vibrant environment. Whenever I zoom in on the buildings, I can see the attention to detail the devs have done for Pioneers of Pagonia. Watching the villagers go from point A to point B and then do tasks like planting crops, baking bread, building structures, and crafting tools is a joy.
The only micromanaging that I experienced in this game so far is more on crafting the tools, weapons, and armor you need for your pioneers to do their specified profession, which I often forget.
The current combat mechanics in Pioneers of Pagonia are a bit rough around the edges. You can’t control your soldiers directly, and it’s not as stellar as what we see in common war games but it’s enough to keep you immersed.
Watching my soldiers fight bandits and thieves felt like they were playing rock-paper-scissors. Whenever they duel, it’s always a three-hit sequence and one of them dies.
For instance, I witnessed bandits just casually exploring the city and stealing from the markets and I didn’t see any of my guards roving around the area. I learned later that I have to access the Guard Tower or Garrison menu and then set up a patrol area where my units can roam around.
After playing for around five hours, I can recommend Pioneers of Pagonia even in its early state. The relaxing atmosphere of Pagonia is enough to keep you hooked regardless if you play at normal or fast speed. You’ll enjoy how much your settlement grows over time, and the game caters to both the casual and veteran city-builders. Just don’t expect it to be as comprehensive as Cities: Skylines or Tropico.
We hope you enjoyed reading through our first impressions of Pioneers of Pagonia. If you like to play this game, get the game on Steam.
This preview is based on the PC version of Pioneers of Pagonia. The key was provided by Envision Entertainment.