Frozen Synapse 2 Reveals Gorgeous Procedural Cities

We learned that Frozen Synapse 2 [official site] was in development last month and now we know what it is. Yes, it’s a tactical combat game, featuring customised squads controlled using a simultaneous turn-based system. But what about this open-world malarkey that was promised?

It looks like the gorgeous offspring of Syndicate Wars and Introversion’s cancelled Subversion, which was set to feature procedurally generated cities with breachable buildings. That’s true here as well – a new city every time and you can infiltrate every building. The trailer, below, is as exciting as any I’ve seen this year.

There’s a certain kind of hype video that starts small and then pulls back to show the full scale of the thing being hyped. No Man’s Sky had an onstage presentation that’s a good example of the type.

Saying, “Hey, look, space is fucking massive, isn’t it?” is all well and good but Frozen Synapse 2’s trailer doesn’t have space to fall back on. It has cities and tactics and factions and alliances and betrayals. And it manages to do that thing, where it pulls back and pulls back until you think, “This is fucking massive, isn’t it?” Look.

I want to play that right now. The cities look amazing, the tactical prowess of the systems has already been proven in the first game, and it all just seems like exactly the kind of game I expected to be playing in 2016 when I first played Syndicate in 1994.

The devs confirm in their press release that every building and corner of each procedural map is accessible, and I might as well just quote them regarding how the whole thing works because they reference X-COM: Apocalypse and Alpha Centauri, and make jokes.

“Taking some influence from janky-yet-wonderful strategic monolith X-COM: Apocalypse, the player’s initial role is to investigate a series of incursions by a powerful force. However, a number of AI-controlled factions are also vying for dominion. Do factions ever do anything other than vy? Vye? Anyway, these factions do that and they do it extremely well. Each will express its own ideology through its strategic choices; every faction will have a different approach to the incursions.

“The city map is a living system, with factions determining their own goals independently: think Alpha Centauri but with fewer worms that burrow into your brain. You can pick up contract missions from factions or play in an entirely freeform manner, stealing the resources you need to get ahead, like a cad and/or bounder.

“Everything in the game is “on the map”, from money and supplies to VIP’s, hostages and even the player’s own in-game avatar. If a faction is transporting their ill-gotten gains back from a raid, the player can set up an ambush and try to snaffle the bounty themselves. If the player’s base is raided and they are killed, the game will end. Which is nice.”

The tactical layer is receiving a makeover as well.

“Frozen Synapse 2 will add a significant number of new unit classes as well as more detailed individual perks.

“Our new AI enables stealth tactics: if a guard spots your squad, he will then activate the building’s security system, placing defensive teams on high alert.

“Curved level geometry and new objects like trees, rocks and cars mean that we can create much more realistic areas. As before, everything is fully analogue rather than grid-based, so you can adapt your plans perfectly to fit the level. Coupled with the stealth system, breaching buildings feels a lot more realistic than in the original game. Also, there are toilets.”

There’s more. Talk of multiplayer improvements, stealth mechanics and the fact that a functioning build of the game already exists. That’s not for us to play though. Not yet. A beta is expected sometime this year. I want it now.


  1. kwyjibo says:

    Finally, Subversion will be released!

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      Exactly my first thought. Considering that Introversion was driven to abandon that project by the conclusion that the idea was fundamentally flawed, I’m unsure how excited to be. That said, there seems to be a far more cohesive narrative arc here than Subversion had, with all the player agency and “living city” stuff put in service of it, and maybe that’s what it really needed.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        Subversion was a similar sort of generator but a completely different kind of gameplay. Subversion was going to be stealth / heist stuff rather than tactical turn-based action. It was also going to be much more simulation-heavy. As they worked on it, they ended up with a really neat simulation that wasn’t fun to play (or so I’m pretty sure I heard). Frozen Synapse 2 has the advantage of Frozen Synapse already proving the gameplay works.

        It’s still a pity Subversion was never released, but I liked Frozen Synapse, so I’m looking forward to this one too.

      • MrUnimport says:

        I’m marginally skeptical so far about the living city stuff: sure, all your targets are painted on the grid somewhere, and sure, you can take every oblong building and generate a tactical map out of it, but there needs to be something that fills in the interstices, you know? There needs to be territory as well as points of interest. Press release suggests that NPCs will be traversing the city, but hopefully this also means the player will have to as well. I don’t want the city to be just a 3D mission select screen, after all.

    • Cooper says:

      Thought exatly the same thing! The city generator looks so much the same…

    • Frank V. says:

      Finally, Subversion will be released!

      Been out for a while: link to

  2. Neutrino says:

    I want it.

  3. WombatDeath says:

    Oooh, yes please. Perhaps it’s time for the Rock, Paper, Synapse extermination league to rise from the metaphorical and literal ashes.

    Here’s an idea from the Wombat School of Half-baked Nonsense: imagine a multi-player, clan-based version of this open world. One turn per day, all executed simultaneously. That would be awesome, or possibly terrible.

  4. JB says:

    Also of note, Mr. Kilduff-Taylor will be on music duty again. Huzzah!

    (I know it’s mentioned at the end of the trailer, but it’s worth pointing out again)

    • Retne says:

      I too was excited by that. Nice ambient vibe.
      Hmm, when I’m next in the UK I must check out some NTP gigs.
      I can’t remember when I last saw a NTP gig. I just found the date of the gig I co-organised where I gave him a spot, and was alarmed to discover it was 12 years ago. 12! [mutters about time flying. Catches self and reminds self to stop being amazed by that phenomenon, what with physics and all]

      Anyway. Err, where was I? Oh yeah, great games, great music.

  5. Anthile says:

    See that mountain? You can climb it, breach its door and arrest everyone inside.

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    Oakreef says:

    Looks a bit like that bit from Escape from LA

  7. Zephro says:

    I will buy any game which references X-Com Apocalypse, also anything by Introversion.

    I tried doing procedural cube cities as a side project once, it’s really fiddly.

    • klops says:

      I have half-seriously thought about learning to code in order to make something Apocalypse-like (as a hobby, not as a working, commercial product). Good combat + factiony city as the Geoscape, what else do you need?

  8. lagiacrux says:

    im soooo sold. i love the first game, and bounced off of frozen cortex HARD.

    also another soundtry by nervous_testpilot … YES PLEASE!

  9. Houghtezo says:

    Wow. When this was announced I was happy thinking it would be more of the same of the first game, but this looks incredible.

  10. Syrion says:

    I love Frozen Synapse 1, although I still have to get around to finishing it and playing Red. Multiplayer is terrific!

    This sounds terrific, I usually love a strategy meta-layer in any action and/or tactics game. I wonder how that will turn out. I’m also not as excited about the look of the city so far, I think it looks very empty. I hope it will be more lively in some way, maybe also showing your squad moving around if that is part of the game somehow.

    Either way, those two guys are awesome and I’m very much looking forward to what they’re doing!

  11. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    I don’t think it’s going to work, but I’d also like to be proven wrong.

  12. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I do hope it doesn’t look like that in game. Because it’s way too bloom-y. (link to

  13. Alphus says:

    If this has more than 2 player multiplayer with free for all and team deathmatch then I’m in. I loved the original but could never really play it with friends. Multiplayer with 3 to 8 players would make it a mean LAN game.

  14. Mackeriah says:

    Well as long as the Devs have finally decided to fix the FS1 issue, where it was common for multiplayer opponents to stop submitting turns once they felt they’d lost. Thus preventing a game every ending and their opponent being robbed of their win, then I’ll consider buying this.

    This was the sole reason I stopped playing the (wonderful) original. The fact their customers were crying out for this and it wasn’t addressed (or replied to as far as I’m aware) just made matters worse.

    So yeah, if they’ve addressed that, great! Otherwise, nooo.


    • Josh W says:

      That’s strange, because frozen synapse is the kind of game where “all my guys are ordered to stand still and look in various directions crouched” might actually be a difficult tactic to deal with in certain situations, so they could have just had a timeout after which they set everyone without orders to “engage on sight” and otherwise leave static.

  15. Ghargoil says:

    I hope that individual members of your squad gain experience as they survive missions.

  16. Josh W says:

    What a brilliant idea, make a sequel by sticking a strategic layer around the outside of a solid tactical framework. I’m a lot worse at the original than I expected to be, but I’m looking forward to this!