Stronghold: Warlords

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Firefly Studios
Release Date: March 9, 2021


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PC Preview - 'Stronghold: Warlords'

by Redmond Carolipio on July 29, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Besiege Great Khans, Imperial warlords and Shōgun commanders in Stronghold: Warlords, the latest in Firefly's classic 'castle sim' series.

Firefly Studios and its castle-sim games have taken players into medieval England since the early 2000s, establishing a tried-and-true methodology of assuming the role of a lord and expanding your force and influence years and years into the future. There's a time-consuming, Zen-like quality into investing hours and hours of your time into building up fictional castles the same way some people build model ships.

For the forthcoming Stronghold: Warlords, Firefly is venturing to the Far East — China, to be specific — opening up a completely new universe of castle-building-sim flavors that players can sample. The first thing we noticed in a shorter demonstration of the game at E3 2019 was how the castle economies of ancient China affect every decision one can make. Experienced, more jaded players know this kind of stuff from back to front, but it was interesting to me to see all of the things one needs to take into account.

For instance, it's one thing to build an army, but first, you need peasants. If you have peasants, I'm told, you have pretty much everything you need, along with things like bamboo, grain, metalworks, stone, etc. A glance at a relatively expanded castle and city offers all of the peasants under your watch going about their daily lives in great detail, whether they're training to fight or building materials. This being China, we get to see gunpowder processed and utilized in creative ways, especially when opposing armies come to play. Two words: gunpowder oxen.

Since this is an RTS castle-builder, wall-building is a key part of your existence. The Warlords walls operate on a flexible grid system and can adapt to various terrain. As you'd expect, they're the perfect spots for units like archers and fire launchers. In battle, I also got to see catapults, laddermen, and trebuchets, and siege towers give off a large-scale sense of combat.

Aside from the Asian setting, what will give Warlords even more of an identity is the ability to actually recruit and control other warlords across the battlefield. Each warlord has their own abilities and battle perks, and they are all capable of building their own properties and boosting your fighting presence. They can either be integrated into your form of an industrial network and bolster your production, or you can strategize and have them flank the armies of your foes. Other bits I saw were multiplayer options, which allow players to free-build and ward off invasions from others for some strategic fun.

Stronghold: Warlords, the new Asian dimension of the Stronghold world, is due out in early 2020.

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