Published on July 27th, 2010 | by prime1
What’s the story?
Building a castle is an art form, which more than five million gamers have enjoyed over the past 10 years thanks to the British developers Firefly Studios and their iconic Stronghold franchise, and which still a large contingent of modern gamers are unaware of. That’s about to all change, as the third chapter in the long-running series is set to be bolder, more beautiful and more accessible than any of the games before it, and the developers have promised to return the series to its original charming roots, with the thrill of torturing villagers and catapulting livestock to their doom.
What do we know?
Gameplay will still be the mix of castle building and economy management as fans have seen before, but rather than utilizing the tile build structure, now everything is fully realized in 3D, allowing complete engineering control, and with the ability to build walls, keeps, peasant housing, etc in any direction, forming any pattern possible. 30 missions will feature in total, across two different military and economically centered campaigns set on many different maps, which will be threaded together by what’s sure to be a typically dark yet funny storyline involving the original Stronghold’s signature enemy, Wolf. The original antagonist is back, despite many believing he was dead, and he’s begun besieging and infiltrating castles at night, a big no-no during the middle ages.
Different times of day will feature during scenarios, but the team has just stopped short of implementing a full day/night cycle, so they can implement the strategic implications of fading light much more accurately. Time of day indicates the ratio of fog of war – or darkness of doom as we much prefer to call it – which can only be penetrated by fire via a scout’s torch or a lit hay bale. Battles in the game will hinge on these stealth dynamics, and army numbers will be in the hundreds rather than the thousands featured in the last sequel.
Firefly have once again tried to recreate medieval life as closely as possible, and an extension of this is the ability to look inside buildings. Whenever you spot a structure, a random room will cutaway to show peasants, lords or workers going about their business. Expect to see cows being milked, banquets being hosted and royalty evacuating their bowels – if you’re lucky. Or not, as the case may be.
Socio-economic management has been streamlined, so players can spend more time doing things they like, such as adding new defensive measures to their castle and scoping out local areas for potential raiders. Multiplayer will also feature like the previous games, but interestingly, a powerful editor will be included, allowing fans to build their own maps, scenarios or castles – recreating Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings, for example. Supporting player content was definitely something Firefly wished to emphasis, and whether that’s via a mod support option or some kind of in-game portal remains to be seen. Despite only seeing a pre-alpha build, this is the type of Stronghold we all want to see – less complication, more charm and great-looking visuals. This is a game which will create plenty of interest, and we can’t wait to learn more.