Next city-builder from the creator of The Settlers is looking pretty good in a new demo

City-building game Pioneers of Pagonia has a demo out as part of this October's Steam Next Fest, and it's looking pretty dang good. The fantasy strategy city-builder will release into early access on December 13, 2023, but the demo's showing off some real interesting bones and very understandable, smooth mechanics for growing your city.

We've been paying attention to Pioneers of Pagonia because it's an indie by a studio run by a real genre veteran: Volker Wertich, who's famous for his role in the original The Settlers and on The Settlers 3. Wertich's clearly not done with the genre yet, as he was involved with Ubisoft's The Settlers: New Allies before leaving over creative differences.

Pioneers of Pagonia certainly is something interesting and new. Fueling the expansion of your city is an atypical focus on requiring resources to expand and build new things rather than resources required to upkeep your existing population and buildings. I was a bit skeptical of that, but the demo had a really well-scripted checklist-style tutorial that helped me understand that it really freed you up to focus on the best parts of Pagonia.

In no time, by focusing on acquiring new resources and providing the food and facilities my people needed to prosper and multiply, I was able to build up a pretty big city on just a fraction of the map. The demo doesn't have outside pressure from enemies, but I was still devoting people to military pursuits so that I could more quickly expand my available territory.

"In a quite common situation it can happen that you have 500 units on screen," Wertich told PC Gamer earlier this year, saying players will "definitely have multiple thousands of inhabitants in your overall city."

I very quickly had over 500 villagers tottering about my town, with most every single few dozen types in the demo built, but the hunger to expand my village's boundary stones was definitely still there. I can see myself sinking perhaps too many hours into this thing once it has bandits, werewolves, and other villages to contend with.

You can find Pioneers of Pagonia on its website and on Steam. You can play the demo until Steam Next Fest ends on October 16.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.