Stronghold: Warlords Demo Besieging the EastJun 22, 2020 | 1 Votes by Mikhail 10 rate FireFly Studios’ next iteration of the Stronghold franchise brings us to the east where Khans, Chinese warlords, and Japanese shoguns wage war. How does it hold up?
In video games, history is one of the most depicted subjects, especially real-time strategy games. FireFly Studios is a veteran when it comes to history-based strategy titles because after all, they’re the people behind Stronghold: Crusaders. Here, you’ll get to jump into the medieval era in the midst of The Crusades where you’ll get to fight for The Holy Land.
With that said, new creation, Stronghold: Warlords, is about to enter the fray this September 2020. It looks like a promising new RTS with a plethora of new mechanics set in a different place compared to FireFly’s previous creations. We’ve played the demo and here’s what we’ve learned so far:
Imperial China, Japanese Shoguns, Mongol Khans
Instead of fighting against armored knights charging towards you at full speed on their mounts, you’ll get to face the deadly hit-and-run tactics of Mongol horse archers. Meanwhile, Imperial Chinese crossbowmen and archers will try to hold their ground and defend from beyond their walls. Finally, the Japanese samurai will do all they can to hold their castles and slice up enemies with their deadly katana. These are basically the factions present in Stronghold: Warlords. You’re dropped into the tumultuous and violent far east where nomads from the north attempt to raid and besiege the rich cities of the fortified south.
The game promises different eras and campaigns, ranging from the rise of Imperial China to the Japanese shogunate and finally, the great Khans. Not only will you get to use swords and bows and arrows, but also gunpowder weapons like fire lancers and even rocket launchers. After all, these Chinese were the first to use this explosive powder in war.
A steep learning curve
Like most real-time strategy games, Stronghold: Warlords isn’t exactly an easy game to learn. I admit, I’ve had a limited experience playing other Stronghold titles and it took me a while to learn the mechanics on the demo. The way I understand it, you have to build resource nodes and their respective workshops to get to use them. Plus, there are also certain gameplay mechanics you need to be familiar with, including the capture of neutral strongholds and the functions of various buildings.
My experience with the demo
When you play an RTS game for the first time, you’ll surely find yourself saying: ”What in the world am I doing here?” .
This is the experience I’ve had with Stronghold: Warlords’ demo. In it, you’ll get to play as a Chinese warlord going up against the Emperor himself, Qin Shi Huang who sends you snide comments via an envoy. Your goal is to break through his castle and defeat his garrison. There are also secondary goals - like capturing neutral strongholds - outlined on the right side of the screen.
Unfortunately, the demo doesn’t exactly provide an intuitive experience. It would have been a great idea to tailor it towards new players who are playing it for the first time. Instead, you’re dropped into a scenario with outlined goals and with no idea about how to accomplish them. There’s no tutorial or guide which means you’ll have to fend for yourself.
On a positive note, the demo gives you the freedom to try out the game’s mechanics, including a variety of unit types and gunpowder siege weapons. The most notable one I got to try out was the rocket launcher which looked cool and is able to deal massive damage to both structures and enemy troops.
Building and besieging fortresses and...strongholds
One thing Stronghold: Warlords’ demo offers is the chance to actually build huge and impenetrable fortresses that can put the Malbork castle to shame. Although the land area you’re given barely gives you enough room to build a star-shaped fort or anything you can think of creatively, it dishes out a good preview of what the game offers. You can opt to create large multi-layered fortresses lined with large, Chinese-style towers with crossbowmen at to keep the Mongol hordes at bay. It has a huge potential to provide a sandbox-style experience where you can build whatever you want.
Considering that the game also has online PvP, you’ll have the opportunity to either defend the fortress of your creation or attack those of other players. Note that you won’t do so with catapults and other traditional medieval weapons, but you’ll get to use medieval versions of flamethrowers, cannons, and rockets.
If you’re an RTS gamer, Stronghold: Warlords’ demo something you’d definitely want to try out. Although it has a steep learning curve and a bit of an issue when it comes to trying to learn about its gameplay mechanics, it doesn’t disappoint if you’re patient with it. With that said, the demo provides a great preview of what the full game can provide. So if it’s part of your backlog, give it a shot today.