City Management Sim Urban Empire Announced

Oh, building a new city is easy. Roads, houses, factories, offices, rubbish dumps, hospitals, schools, foolishly expensive tourist attraction, bish bash bosh you’re done. I could build a city tomorrow, mate. Running a city, ooh that’s a trickier one. Committees, meetings, politicians… no mate, you can handle that side. But if you’d like to simulate the thrills, chills, and coffee spills of a town council, you might want to keep an eye on Urban Empire [Steam page]. Announced yesterday and due to launch later this year, it’ll mix a bit of building with all the political wheeling-dealing and wrangling which goes into keeping a city running, dealing with its changing needs as technology and society progress. Might be interesting?

Urban Empire is being made by Fragment Production, who so far have mostly made emergency services RTSs. But Kalypso, the folks who publish the Tropico games, are publishing Urban Empire, and I’d like to think they’re working carefully to add another urban ’em up to their catalogue. Kalypso say in the announcement:

“Take control of a mayoral dynasty at the start of the Industrial Age. Establish infrastructures, plan city districts, debate political decisions at the town council, bribe or blackmail your opponents, empower the democratic rights of your people or ignore them and reign supremely by yourself – the decision is yours! Master the challenges of 200 years of societal changes: face political struggles, experience world-changing events and pioneering inventions, and eventually, Be a Mayor Player and create your very own Urban Empire!”

Heck, I’m just fascinated by this… it can’t be a tech tree, can it? I’m fascinated by a tree which manages to include outsourcing, automation, pop music, sexual revolution, video games, and electro-optics. Y’know, city stuff.

Urban Empire is due either in autumn or some time from the start of July and the end of September, depending on where you’re looking. Overlapping those two, September sounds likely. Anyway, for now, here’s a trailer:


  1. MrFinnishDude says:

    Oh, It’s made by Kalypso.
    Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the Tropico games, (except 4 because it didn’t work on my computer and steam refunds weren’t a thing) but I think their games are not “serious” enough, in a really convoluted way.
    I mean like, as a person who absolutely loves history, that tech tree is driving me insane.
    Civilization games are also maybe a bit silly at points but they manage to pull the thing off. That feeling that you’re watching true history unfold, that something truly magnificent, graceful and historical is taking place right before your eyes. But these just feel little bit… clownish.
    I don’t know what I’m saying but one mission in Tropico 3 had you building 5 windmills to move the island away from an impeding nuclear strike (yes you move the island with some windmills).
    I’m getting similar wibes from this trailer and I’m pessimistic about the finished game.
    TLDR: Kalypso games have never managed to capture that feeling of grace and importance that I always loved in other history sims.

    • MrFinnishDude says:

      Oops when it comes to Tropico games I meant 4 instead of 3, and 5 instead of 4. (Curse you, lack of an edit button! Curse youuu!)

    • froz says:

      It’s not made by them, they only publish it. But it’s made by guys behind some mediocre game, judging by steam reviews.

      • MrFinnishDude says:

        Well that makes me even less hopeful.

      • Unsheep says:

        They are developers from Finland. I would describe their games as ‘casual sim’ or ‘light-sim’. I’ve actually played their Rescue 2 game, which was OK, it just needed more complexity and managerial depth.

        Their creative director used to work on the ‘Cities in Motion’ games, developed by Colossal Order…who of-course made Cities Skylines. So the experience is there.

    • Canadave says:

      I can certainly understand where you’re coming from, but I feel like the Tropico games kind of need that lighthearted, whimsical feel just because of the subject matter. A Tropico game that took itself seriously would get pretty depressing.

    • Unsheep says:

      City builders should have a uniqueness, and the Tropico games certainly have that. They are to city-builders what Monty Python was to comedy back in the days; silly, humorous and quite absurd. This contrasted the Tropico games against the seriousness and orthodoxy of games like SimCity.

      However I *do* think they repeated the formula too much, there was no real need to buy a new Tropico game if you already owned a previous one, at least at launch price anyway. I would make the same argument for most other city-builder franchises though; SimCity, Caesar, the early Anno games and so on.

      Mechanically city-builders offer pretty much the same thing. Its mainly the sceneries, settings and unit designs that make these kind of games stand out. What “mood” the game has will also distinguish it from others; the silliness of a Tropico game, the chill-out of Cities Skylines, the sense of history in a Caesar game, the epicness of an Anno game, the Steampunk of Lethis and so on.

  2. teije says:

    Sounds interesting, but the trailer provides very little useful info. So impossible to get a sense of how the game actually “plays.”

  3. freedomispopular says:

    More complex management is always something I felt was lacking in SimCity. Sounds like a good expansion idea for Cities: Skylines…anyone over at Colossal paying attention?

    • Artist says:

      “Complex” and “Kalypso” rules itself out if used in a sentence. “Shallow” and “lackluster” on the other hand is default when it comes to Kalypso-concepts – besides Tropico.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Malarious says:

    I was wondering why there were Civ 5 screenshots in this article, so I went to the Steam page, and continued wondering why I was just seeing Civ 5. Then I squinted a bit. Wow. Definitely a derivative UI design.

  5. hatlock says:

    Definitely an interesting idea. I hope to hear more about it once it is actually released.

  6. TobleroneRoloCombo says:

    That tech tree looks like a tech tree for the sake of a tech tree. That is, it doesn’t seem to add anything on it’s own, and it’s too abstract to really represent the workings and policies of urban government.

  7. Unsheep says:

    Cool, I’ve enjoyed the Tropico games, so if this is a deeper version of those games I’m definitely interested. I hope they keep some of the humor though.

  8. LennyLeonardo says:

    Ah, Chris Traeger/ Ben Watt simulator. Cones of Dunshire minigame included?