Taking a lesson from Manor Lords, Hooded Horse delays Norland to July

Norland screenshot - large-scale battle with numerous medieval knights and soldiers killing each other in all sorts of nasty ways
(Image credit: Long Jaunt)

"Late is just for a little while," a wise man once said. "Suck is forever." Few games embody that mantra as effectively as Manor Lords: It was supposed to come out in 2023, got pushed to April 2024, and ultimately launched to near-universal acclaim and major sales. Perhaps inspired by that success, publisher Hooded Horse announced today that medieval strategy sim Norland—which, like Manor Lords, is putting up big wishlist numbers—has likewise been delayed, and is now set to come out on July 18.

The extra couple months of development time will enable developer Long Jaunt to "include some extra features, and bask in the glory of hitting 500,000 wishlists for a bit longer," Hooded Horse said. Those features will include enhanced world map trading, a province ecology system that will incorporate factors like soil erosion, limited raw materials, and market saturation, new local map mechanics, aging ("no longer will the ruling family be immortal"), mid-game prophecies and disaster, and numerous other features and improvements.

"We've done what we could, but the game needs additional testing and debugging; it doesn't perform as well as it should," designer and studio head Dmitry Glaznev said on Steam. "I’d like to postpone the release for a few more weeks to ensure we deliver a well-functioning game. Norland’s new launch date is set for July 18th.

"I'm sorry about the additional wait, but we will continue to open up the demo version and conduct regular playtests so you can see how the game is evolving and getting closer to a state we can be proud of."

There's clearly a lot of interest in Norland—more than 500,000 wishlists puts it among the top 50 most-wishlisted games on Steam—but publisher Hooded Horse isn't inclined to rush the developers to the finish line. 

"The reason [for the delay] is basically the same reason that we delayed Manor Lords," Hooded Horse CEO Tim Bender said in a separate interview with PC Gamer. "It's just additional polish."

The strategy worked out well for Manor Lords. It's a great city-builder, but it's also surprisingly stable for an early access game. Bugs are rare and performance is good, and while Slavic Magic's claim that 99% of reported crashes are caused by outdated drivers may be a bit of an exaggeration, there's no question that Manor Lords' stability is a big mark in its favor. You only need to look at Nightingale, another highly anticipated early access game, to see the results of being too early to early access: After launching to more than 47,000 concurrent players in February, technical issues saw the player count quickly tumble, and it's currently saddled with a "mixed" user rating on Steam. That's far from insurmountable, but it does make life more difficult than it needs to be.

Bender also confirmed that, like Manor Lords, Norland will initially be an early access release. "We love early access releases," he continued. "Almost all of our games are early access releases.

"The game is looking great. I'm really excited. It plays so well and [in] so many interesting ways ... I'm really looking forward to that one."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.